Welcome to the website of the Creators' Copyright Coalition. We at the CCC are committed to access to our creative works just as we are committed to copyright: we work for copyright legislation that ensures both. Here on our op-ed pages we will be posting opinion, commentary, links, and news of interest to creators and others engaged in copyright reform. Elsewhere, you'll find our archive of studies, handbooks and press releases. And while we're not currently hosting a discussion forum, comments sent to us may be posted or noted here (unless you ask us not to).

Mozart’s Copyrights

By Christopher Moore | January 27, 2006

Today is Wolfgang Mozart’s 250th birthday. His German biographer Wolfgang Hildesheimer wrote that Mozart “was not the first poor musical artist, but he was the first free one, and he was poor because he was free.”

In Mozart’s day, musicians worked in the retinues of wealthy patrons. They composed what their patrons requested of them and they were treated as household servants. But in the cities, audiences for music were growing and musicians were finding new ways to reach them. Mozart tried to make a living serving an audience rather than a master.

It was not easy. He got a fee to compose “Cosi fan tutte” in 1789. But in 1790, when “Cosi fan tutte” was taking the concert halls of Europe by storm, he was begging a Vienna theatre manager to lend him a little money so he could afford work on something new. He was successful; he just could not get paid for the value of what he was providing.

To be an artist without a patron, Mozart needed a copyright regime. The concept of copyright did exist; Mozart did earn some copyright income. But in the midst of cultural and technological change, the dissemination of music was running ahead of the systems by which creators were rewarded.

Mozart ran with the changes. He promoted his own concerts, and he appreciated the recently invented piano (pianoforte, he called it) not least because it was cost-effective: it allowed a solo artist to play virtuoso music loudly enough for the large new concert halls. But despite his successes, a secure income always eluded him, and he faced the usual criticisms artists receive. He should compose for love, not whine about money. He could get a teaching job. He could get grants. If he couldn’t make it in the market place, it must be his own fault. Even his first biographer, the scholarly Otto Jain, thought Mozart should have accepted his station and lived within his means.

We live in a moment when cultural and technological change are once again challenging us as to how to encourage access to creative work and to sustain creators at the same time. I think Hildesheimer’s take on the situation is still closer than Professor Jain’s.

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Quoting and the Public Domain

By Op-Ed Editor | January 24, 2006

We don’t run a discussion forum on this website, but we get mail.

“We really need to open dialog between the diverse creator communities,” said one, disagreeing with a recent post.

True, for sure. The Creators’ Copyright Coalition spans a wide spectrum of creator communities. And it and its members have had constant discussions with many who reject some of its basic premises about the importance of copyright to creators: among others, Creative Commons Canada, Professor Murray’s faircopyright.ca, digital-copyright.ca, various academics, and other exponents of particular views about copyright. Hope it continues. Hope it continues respectfully. Let’s talk policy instead of waving accusations about who is on the take.

One of our readers complained:

“I write. I publish. And in order to do so, I need to make use of other people’s work. Quotations. Citations. Comments and criticisms. Allusions. Extensive use of the public domain.
“All of these are VITAL to my creativity.
“Yet you, the self-styled voice of creators, want to take that away from me.
“You want a copyright act without exemptions? There goes fair dealing for comment and criticism. There goes the doctrine of SUBSTANTIAL vs. INSUBSTANTIAL use of work.”

Take that away? This is the kind of misunderstanding that generates such heat. Keep writing, friend. Quoting, citing, commenting, criticizing, and alluding are vital to everyone’s creativity.

The CCC has been deeply engaged with the vital role that fair-dealing uses play in our careers as filmmakers, poets, musicians, and the problems some many of us experience in securing permissions. Copyright and the public domain should reinforce each other; it’s not a zero-sum game. See the “Who We Are” statement at the top of this website for our commitment to access. See the essay Creators’ Rights and the Copyright Debate for a constructive engagement with open source and copyleft ideas by Susan Crean and Virginia Jones. You might glance at these op-eds, but the really vital material on this website, in fact, is in its documents.

Artists have to be committed to the thriving of the public domain. But the principle holds: there’s a boundary between fair dealing and uses where licensing is appropriate. The CCC doesn’t support putting exemptions in the Copyright Act on behalf of organizations that resist rewarding creators for the value they provide.

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Vote arts 2006

By Op-Ed Editor | January 17, 2006

Here’s a notable link: Vote Arts 2006 — The Canadian Arts Coalition website on the federal election scene.

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Copyright debate gets dirty

By Op-Ed Editor | January 16, 2006

Canadian copyright policy is suddenly the focus of dirty smear politics, the kind developed by those Republican American lobbyists who are now beginning to face criminal charges for their US operations.

The target of the smear is Toronto MP Sarmite Bulte. Sam Bulte has worked in theatre and the arts all her life. Anyone working for the arts knows Sam has been one of our best resources in Ottawa since she became a Liberal MP in 1997. She was parliamentary secretary to Sheila Copps and closely involved in the International Cultural Diversity initiative to support Canadian and other smaller cultures, including indigenous cultures, in the global marketplace. She’s long been a strong voice for Canadian culture and the arts in the House Heritage Committee.

She’s also a strong voice for copyright. She understands the link between copyright and creativity, between copyright and creators’ incomes. There are strong forces in Ottawa that would sell out creators rights just to pump content into the digital pipeline. Sam has always advocated for the rights of the creators who bring that content into being.

Now the website boingboing.net is flooding cyberspace with crude claims that Sam Bulte is a copyright extremist, a sellout to American corporate interests. It’s crazy and false, but mud often sticks. The piracy lobby has been harassing Sam in her riding until The Toronto Star, Maclean’s and national media have begun repeating the smear campaign.

Sam’s no newby. She knows people fight dirty in politics, and she can defend herself. She knows the copyright issues, and she knows creators need to be rewarded for digital uses of their works. On the issues of the arts and creators’ rights, she will win. What a shame to see her (and the whole political process) subjected to crude smears about money and foreign interests. Particularly when they come from the American lobby group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is rich but ignorant of Canadian issues, and by the Canadian creators’ most implacable foes, the academic apologists for piracy.

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The Bordered Internet

By Op-Ed Editor |

The online site of the American journal Legal Affairs has a thoughtful piece on how cyberspace, once widely considered a lawless frontier where norms might prevail but laws had no application, is rapidly submitting to the rule of law. The more important digital information becomes, the more it becomes clear that is is going to submit to the rule of law. Bad when Chinese law means censoring the net. Good when rights can be enforced.

The story by Jack Goldsmith and Timothy Wu is available at :
http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/January-February-2006/feature_goldsmith_janfeb06.msp

Another straw in the wind. The Globe & Mail reported on Jan 6 how large telcos are “laying the groundwork” for making Google and other large internet content providers pay for their use of telecommunications networks. “The phone companies envisage a system whereby Internet companies would pay a fee for their content to receive priority treatment.” Hey, if we are paying for the transmission, we can pay the rightsholders, no.

Just to confirm the fading of the freedom of the net: you cannot even read the Globe’s story now unless you are a paid online subscriber.

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