Copyright

Obama embarrassing himself on "Copyright"

The following is a letter I wrote to my MP:

Mr. McGuinty,

I know Canadians love Obama, and I have to admit that I fell for this great speaker as well, but his decision to include Canada on the priority watch list in USTR's Special 301 shows how little he knows about this key legal and economic issue facing the global economy.

(link to press release of report)

isoHunt case could change Canadian web landscape

"It's a huge can of worms," said David Fewer, acting director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa. "I am surprised that this litigation has gone under the radar as much as it has. I do think this is the most important copyright litigation going on right now."

Read the full article n the Vancouver Sun.

China's IP regime supports innovative music business models

You know how the music and movie industries are always saying that they need legal protection for DRM to "allow them" to try out different business models, and how Canada's copyright laws need to be changed to grant them more rights so that they can offer Canadians different products ? Well, now we know what they mean, with the news that Google is launching a free, ad-supported music service. So which country is it that has tough enough copyright laws to actually support this ? China, of course !

Copyright and classical music

Techdirt has an article about the effect of copyright on classical music. Classical music tends to straddle the time when copyright was invented, so there should be some good evidence for the value of copyright in achieving its aims of increasing the incentive to create cultural works. The latest research from Harvard, though, apparently shows the opposite.

Minister’s PVR use highlights need for clear copyright rules: expert

A Canwest News Service article by Sarah Schmidt discusses how Canada's current Heritage Minister's more modern technology usage makes him likely an "Infringer" under our current backward-facing Copyright law. What remains to be seen is whether he takes the time to understand what copyright reform needs to really be about, and not what the old-economy incumbents have been claiming in lobbying that it is about.

Obama: Change that may take your computer from you?

I think it is obvious from what I've written before that I'm of mixed feelings about the new Obama administration. While there are many positive things he appears to represent, it seemed likely that he would be terrible on the most critical technology and economic policy question of our generation: who will ultimately control the means of production and distribution in the knowledge economy. This conflict wasn't entirely surprising given I've spent much of the last decade+ fighting bad Clinton/Gore policy (DRM/etc) even though on some other issues (IE: climate change) I have some agreement with Gore.

For some of the latest on the damage that Obama may inflict on our technology property rights and the global economy, check out RIAA Takes Over DOJ, by Alan Wexelblat. Some of the comments have suggested that those of us who are worried have no reason to be, but for this we will just have to wait and see.

Checking your own copyright moral compass

I just finished listening to "This week in Law" episode 20, which is subtitled "Ethically Cleansed". This is a group of lawyers talking about various issues of the day, and music copyright came up. I found that my idea of fairness is closer to the position of the recording industry than these lawyers were expressing, but not surprising my views were still closer to these lawyers than the industry. It was an interesting opportunity to think about where my own moral compass is on the issues they raise, and compare this to where society appears to be going.

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Public Domain Day 2009

One of the wonderful things to celebrate each year is January 1'st: Public Domain Day. This is the day when the excessively long term of copyright expires, and works are recycled back into the public domain to be built upon and made valuable again by current and future generations. It is also a day to reflect on the importance of the public domain, and to reject out of hand special-interest calls to either extend or obfuscate this recycling date.

This is especially important a message for creators who are members of a self-called "creator group" which lobby to greatly harm the interests of working creators by extending and/or obfuscating the recycling date.

Connecting the dots: legacy entertainment focused on "enablers", not infringers

Many people will have heard that the RIAA is going to be doing in the USA what they are doing in Canada: not suing individual music copyright infringers, even if copyright law enables them to. Their primary target has always been "enablers" (IE: providers of multi-purpose and predominantly legal technology, communications services, and software), but in the USA at least they have been launching massive lawsuits against everyone from single mothers to dead people.

A techdirt article Big Guns Come Out In Effort To Show RIAA's Lawsuits Are Unconstitutional may clarify why the change in tactics in the USA. It may be that the courts will confirm that the RIAA's lawsuit intimidation tactics are not legal after all.

CAUT releases IP Advisory on Fair Dealing

A recent addition to the CAUT site under "Intellectual Property": Fair Dealing (No. 3) (Intellectual Property Advisory, Dec 2008).

From an announcement:

This advisory is significant because it combines both the internals and externals of copyright policy-making; it links together the federal legislative agenda with policy-making at the local institutional level. In this piece, CAUT is calling on colleges and universities to codify robust fair dealing practices in their institutional policies, and they are also setting forth a four-part legislative program to insure that any new copyright amendments enshrine the CCH principles.

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