James Moore Has Just Made Himself A Big Target

We all know that a new copyright bill that will supposedly update copyright for the twenty-first century is in the works. Several of the usual suspects (Barry Sookman, Michael Geist) have written articles about it. Sookman’s article reads like it was written at the minister’s behest. Geist’s article suggests sending your comments to the minister to let him know what you want in a copyright bill.

I lean towards Geist’s position this time. While I’m in disagreement with both of them about what a good Canadian copyright bill should have, Geist’s position is closer to mine than Sookman’s. But they both miss one big point.

James Moore now has a big target painted on his back. No matter what he does, someone isn’t going to be happy. In fact he, and the Conservative Government would have been far better served to have ignored the issue. The current Canadian copyright regime has problems, however it’s better than what the United States or Great Britain have implemented, and far, far better than what South Korea has implemented.

Currently Canada has one of the best copyright systems in the world. It isn’t as flexible as it should be, the copyright term is far too long, it’s corporate friendly features are too strong, and it’s artist friendly features are far too weak. In fact the change that would most help creators could be made easily, would attract the support of a wide spectrum of Canadians, and incidentally bring us closer to the WIPO copyright treaty. That is to make it illegal for a corporation or anyone else to buy a copyright. Oh, they should be allowed to lease copyrights, but for a period of no more than five years, and automatic renewal should be illegal. The only method of changing ownership of a copyright would be through inheritance.

The Canadian Government talks about protecting the artists. I’m calling on them to prove that they do want to protect the artists, by implementing my suggestion.

Wayne Borean

Monday May 17, 2010

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11 Responses to James Moore Has Just Made Himself A Big Target

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  3. AndreiMincov says:

    It is beyond me how you find Canadian copyright law to be one of the best. In all honesty, I think it is possibly the worst copyright act among all more or less civilized countries – common law or civil law.

    It does not have the flexibility of the U.S. Copyright Act and it does not have predictability of European copyright acts. What’s so good about it then?

    As a teaser to the next paragraph, I want to say a few things. Copyright laws are NOT and should not be written for the benefit of “average citizens”. They are and should be written to protect the rights of the people who create something that only comes to exist because they created it. We do not prohibit murder for the benefit of killers. We do not protect private property for the benefit of the homeless. We do not protect copyright for the benefit of users.

    I explain these ideas in my recent article, Copyright and the Great Socialist Degradation, at http://mincov.com/articles/index.php/fullarticle/copyright_and_the_great_socialist_degradation/

    • Andrei,

      As an artist, I read the copyright acts of Canada, the United States, and the European Union, and evaluated them. The copyright acts of the United States and the European Union are heavily weighted to favor the content distributors (i.e. the RIAA and MPAA member companies) over the content creators (artists), whereas the current Canadian Law does not favor the distributors, and if the Government takes my advice, Canadian Law will favor the artists more than it does now. Because of the way that the political system works in the United States, it is unlikely that copyright law there could be changed in this way. The political situation in the European Union is slightly better, and I know that there are people there who are trying to get similar changes considered for European law as well.

      You claim that copyright law should be written to protect the rights of the artists – but then in your article you state:

      For greater clarity, I do not differentiate between the need to protect the rights of authors and of subsequent owners of copyright, as long as the authors were not compelled to assign their rights by force.

      Allowing the purchase of a copyright is not to the advantage of the artist. Allowing a corporation to own any copyright is not to the advantage of the artist(s) involved in creating the work. Copyrights should only be transferable as an inheritance. Leasing of copyrights, for a limited time (no more than five years, with no automatic renewals allowed) would allow the corporation access to the copyrights to produce material (compact discs, digital video discs) for sale.

      As you may have gathered, I am a champion of artists rights. If the Rolling Stones could not get paid by their record company, something is wrong with the current law, and it needs to be changed. My suggested changes will empower artists. Since the distributors have claimed for years that they are working in the best interests of the artists, they should back my suggestions.

      Wayne

  4. I strongly oppose any artificial limitations on parties’ contractual freedom – be it for the purpose of protection of the artists or distributors.

    Many corporations would not want to invest if they only get 5 years to exploit the property. Also, many artists would be really upset if they could not get more money for trying to sell their property for a longer period of time.

    There is really no need to intervene with government protectionist measures. Government does not know how to run things better than the free market. Moreover, it is not the government’s job to tell parties what contracts they are allowed to enter into and on which conditions.

    • Andrei,

      The entire field of law is made up of artificial limitations on parties contractual freedoms – an example being that my sister-in-law had to wait 6 months before she could marry (until she was 18). Her and her husband have been married for twenty-four years now, and a happier couple you will never see.

      As to corporations not wanting to invest if my suggestions are adopted, that’s their choice. If they don’t want to invest in one thing, surely they will find something else. If they can’t find something else, well, think of it as ‘Evolution in Action’.

      As to your third paragraph – it makes no sense at all. You are arguing that we shouldn’t have speed limits, that we shouldn’t have spousal abuse statutes, that we shouldn’t have legal ages, that we shouldn’t have disclosure rules, that we shouldn’t have rules blocking corporations from lying on their prospectuses, etc., etc., etc. Government tells parties what contracts they are allowed to enter into and on what conditions all the time. Government’s job is to assure a level playing field, however that they do it. You and I might not agree with specific regulations that government enacts, but when we don’t agree with those regulations, we are free to lobby the government to change those regulations – or to not change those regulations, depending upon our viewpoint.

      As to the Five Year rule I’ve suggested – I have specific reasons for this. I know of all too many cases where the artist wanted to reprint a work, and was blocked from doing so by the distributor. The distributor wasn’t making any money from the work, it was out of print. The artist might have been able to make money, if they could have reprinted the work, but were blocked from doing so. I admit Five years might not be the best choice – possibly Three years might be right, or possibly Ten years. However unlike you I’ve at least made suggestions to improve the system.

      Regards

      Wayne

  5. Well, that’s the thing
    I don’t want to have an argument about the pose in which the government is going to rape my individual rights.
    I want the government to only do what is appropriate for the government, i.e. police, military and the courts, that is the only things where the government can and should exercise physical force over people.
    I don’t want the government to take away my right to fail. I don’t want the government to deprive me of responsibility for my own actions. I don’t want the government to tell an author that they have no right to sell their music for $0.01 forever. I want the government to stay away, stop robbing people of achievement and redistribute their wealth among the undeserving.

    • Andrei,

      You really need to look at what you’ve written, it looks very confused. But hey, I’ll take it one sentence at a time:

      I don’t want to have an argument about the pose in which the government is going to rape my individual rights.

      You need to explain why the government wants to ‘rape’ your individual rights, before this sentence will make sense.

      I want the government to only do what is appropriate for the government, i.e. police, military and the courts, that is the only things where the government can and should exercise physical force over people.

      I know a lot of people who would disagree with you about the military, a lot of people who believe that the police should be restrained, and a lot of people who believe that the courts have a negative impact on the country, and that therefore those things are not appropriate functions of government. I personally believe that government has other functions, a good example being regulation of financial institutions – the Americans lost a lot of banks in the financial meltdown, Canada lost none.

      I don’t want the government to take away my right to fail. I don’t want the government to deprive me of responsibility for my own actions.

      Why should the government take away your right to fail? Think of it as Evolution in Action.

      I don’t want the government to tell an author that they have no right to sell their music for $0.01 forever.

      I don’t either.

      I want the government to stay away, stop robbing people of achievement and redistribute their wealth among the undeserving.

      That’s what I want too, which is why I want artists to retain their copyrights. It’s just that our definitions of undeserving are different, I consider the ‘content distributors’ as undeserving.

      Wayne

  6. I will give my last comment here.

    I stand by my statement about the government raping my individual rights every time it regulates something, because it deprives me of the freedom to make MY choice, by limiting my options.

    Today it tells me on which conditions I have to license my works; tomorrow it will tell me which car to drive and how much salt to consume; in a month it will tell me whom to marry and what to think; in a year it will tell me if I could please justify whether I have a right to live.

    Government has no right to deprive someone of the right to fail at someone else’s expense.

    Everything that limits my freedoms for some mythical public good is an attack on my individual rights.

    That’s what the monstrosity about social justice is all about. It requires that in order to give the unearned to the undeserving, the government use force to extort value from people of achievement.

    And the best part about this discussion that we’re having here, is that you are simply proving my point. Those who want to limit the monopoly that copyright grants to its owners (be it first owners or subsequent owners) they tend to think that social justice is a virtue. Whether it is a virtue or dangerous evil (as I think it is) is immaterial for the issue. The issue is simple – attack on copyright is a quest for social justice, aka socialism.

    The point of my article was to show how one is intrinsically linked to the other. What to do from there – is a separate issue, something that everyone should decide for themselves.

    • Andrei,

      I stand by my statement about the government raping my individual rights every time it regulates something, because it deprives me of the freedom to make MY choice, by limiting my options.

      Today it tells me on which conditions I have to license my works; tomorrow it will tell me which car to drive and how much salt to consume; in a month it will tell me whom to marry and what to think; in a year it will tell me if I could please justify whether I have a right to live.

      Um, it already tells you what car to drive, and how much salt can be included in foods. It tells you who you can’t marry. Again, think about what you are saying.

      Government has no right to deprive someone of the right to fail at someone else’s expense.

      So I should be able to sell you a car that is improperly designed, and make a profit, even if it kills you. That’s an interesting concept.

      Everything that limits my freedoms for some mythical public good is an attack on my individual rights.

      Your right to swing your fist ends before it hits my nose. Think about it.

      That’s what the monstrosity about social justice is all about. It requires that in order to give the unearned to the undeserving, the government use force to extort value from people of achievement.

      I gather that you aren’t religious.

      And the best part about this discussion that we’re having here, is that you are simply proving my point. Those who want to limit the monopoly that copyright grants to its owners (be it first owners or subsequent owners) they tend to think that social justice is a virtue. Whether it is a virtue or dangerous evil (as I think it is) is immaterial for the issue. The issue is simple – attack on copyright is a quest for social justice, aka socialism.

      I don’t remember limiting the rights of the copyright owners. I do remember arguing for a limit on the rights of the content distributors, which is a different thing.

      The point of my article was to show how one is intrinsically linked to the other. What to do from there – is a separate issue, something that everyone should decide for themselves.

      Again, your logic is strange to say the least.

      However you didn’t reply to one of my most important points – why didn’t you take part in the copyright consultation?

      Wayne

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