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).

Creators: an unnecessary financial expense

By Op-Ed Editor | June 27, 2008

John Degen’s exemplary blog looks at the position of the Film Studies Association of Canada on Bill C-61 and finds them setting out the anti-copyright position of so many academics in a nutshell. Actually paying the people who produce the work they study, they declare, is “an unnecessary financial expense” for their employers the universities.

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By Op-Ed Editor | June 24, 2008

the literary website Bookninja noticed the copyright bill and responses to it. And that got some intriguing responses. The usual “oh, you should be glad to give your work away” blather that normally passes muster in the blogsphere here gets a vigorous taking down from a whole crew of writers.

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C-61 in the Star

By Op-Ed Editor | June 19, 2008

The Star today has a rather calm and comprehensive survey of Bill c-61, by an Osgoode Hall law professor.

Late Update: And a second Star article here, covering reaction from publishers at the BookExpo in Toronto. Note publishers’ rep Jackie Hushion declaring there are no differences between publishers and writers on copyright. CanWest would say the same thing.

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Creator Orgs Responding to C-61

By Op-Ed Editor | June 18, 2008

ACTRA has a response to Bill 6-61 here and a package of earlier material related to copyright legislation here

The Writers’ Guild of Canada (the screenwriters) had a first response here the day the bill was made public.

This was Access Copyright’s preliminary response.

The Songwriters Association of Canada response is here

The American Federation of Musicians has a response here

Writers’ Union of Canada analysis of C-61 is here.

SOCAN: preliminary response is here.

And here is CARFAC Ontario’s response.

A lot of CCC member orgs are still doing their due diligence on this thing. More links as they come in.

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Straw in the wind: the mindset behind C-61

By Christopher Moore | June 17, 2008

The idea of copyright is that it adheres in the created work itself; respect for the work of others ought to be presumed.

Bill C-61 creates for schools (but not others) a new special exemption from copyright, for PAM (publicly available material). If you are a school, you can just take and use stuff you find on the internet; the usual presumption of respect for the work of others is waived. Then it hedges this privilege to plunder with complications. Not if it’s under a TPM (a digital lock). Not if the school “should have known” it’s made available without the owner’s consent. And not if the creator has attached to the work a notice saying “schools, no plundering please.”

Consider the difficulties of a school attempting to honour all these limitations upon its new right. Then consider the difficulties of the creator, and consider reverse onus. A creator who does not want his or her work appropriated by schools is obliged to post a notice to that effect right on the work. And it cannot simply be the internationally recognized copyright symbol, the c in a circle. No, it must be a “clearly visible notice — not merely the copyright symbol.” At some future time, the government may declare what constitutes a clearly visible notice.

This hedging about of the principle that rights should be respected is all contrary to the principles set out in the Berne Convention, but then the government is not planning to honour its WIPO obligations at the moment anyway.

It’s as if the drafters of C-61 are telling us, don’t make your work available, don’t provide access. Lock it up. Hedge it about with warnings, threats, and notices. And if you don’t, it’s your own fault.
And at the same time it is telling users, even privileged ones like schools, that copyright will be an endless headache for them, that compliance will always be difficult and time-consuming and fraught with uncertainty.

Bill C-61 is twenty pages longer than Bill C-60, its predecessor from the Martin government.

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Early reaction to C-61

By Christopher Moore | June 13, 2008

Everyone says it is complicated — but the anti-copyright community hasn’t let that stop it from unleasing a torrent of abuse. (Michael Geist links to most of the “Kill C-61″ forces.) Creator organizations and producers seem to have been a little more cautious, but there may be a “not as bad as we feared” response developing.

Striking: the things the anti-copyright lobby is basing its fury on. Here’s Jim Turk of CAUT, waxing furious — well, that universities are not given a free hand to block digital locks. That seems to be only thing Jim can find to be furious about at short notice. Universities will be denied access, he says, seemingly meaning the $40 billion a year education sector won’t be free to appropriate anything it wants. Licensing rights still seems a tough sell for university administrators — and for CAUT, the profs’ union.

Striking: the labelling war. “It’s a Canadian DMCA” was effective for the anti-copyright cause last December. The government trumpeted “made in Canada copyright policy” very loudly yesterday, and listed the many differences. The critics are continuing with last winter’s meme.

Striking: several of the critics are angry that the bill is not in the spirit of the Supreme Court’s 2004 CCH decision. And it isn’t. The Supreme Court tried to move into the legislative vaccuum by micromanaging copyright policy in the guise of interpreting the law. The law makers seem to be striking back; in the end Parliament gets to make laws.

It’s not the bill we need, let’s say that. Every news item seems to start with, “It’s very complicated…” And as Prof David Vaver was arguing (noted way below), the copyright bill is already so complicated that even judges and legislators don’t understand it. An ideal copyright bill might just start over, with a setting-out of copyright principles and a much shorter shopping list of privileges and exceptions.

Instead, once again we get a bill which reaffirms the idea of copyright on one hand, and on the other (“balance”) creates a lot of new special privileges to override rights, with the privileges then hedged about with new conditions. Once again the government’s drafters show themselves as inclined as the judges to micromanage copyright. These drafters seem to have lost interest in the collective licensing system that was a fundamental aspect of copyright thinking 15-odd years ago. Too bad: most of the special conditions and circumstances could be negotiated as needed through licenses. Instead the government goes on trying to cover every need and interest in a clause of the Copyright Act (always suitably hedged by the next clause).

Of course, the failures and shortcomings of the collective licensing system have to answer for some of that. If Access Copyright had done what it needed to gain the trust and support of creators (and users), for instance, governments might be building on collective licensing today, instead of seeming to work around it. But access and rights is what we should be aiming for, not a system of endless litigation over the interpretation of arcane subclauses of a jerry-built copyright act. And well-run licensing systems still have lots of promise.

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Copyright bill.. for real this time, so far at least

By Op-Ed Editor | June 12, 2008

Given it is the 27th time we have been promised imminent release of Copyright Act revisions, we’ve been holding back on the breathless announcement. But maybe there really is one, and it will not be withdrawn next Tuesday. The hard work begins. Keep a raincoat handy — there is going to be a tropical storm of nonsense poured on this one.

Later update: And here is the Bill, C-61, and government documents on it.

*Government is not ratifying WIPO (!), but claims harmony with international standards;
*here comes PAM — special exemption for educational uses of “publicly available materials” on the internet;
*Digital interlibrary loan — libraries can now loan a digital copy of their holdings rather than a physical book;
*”Notice and notice” for copyright abuse on the internet, rather than “notice and takedown” and limited liability for ISPs;
*Confirmation of private right to copy materials between formats for one’s own private use, but no expansion of “fair dealing” definitions;
*Educational institutions with licences can make digital copies, subject to payments;
*”Making available right” confirmed;
*Protection for TPMs, and circumvention outlawed (with exceptions).

And more. Let’s take time to read and digest this.

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The Hockey Song? Blame Michael Geist

By Christopher Moore | June 7, 2008

Browsing CBC News online and reading the Globe & Mail’s letters page, I was impressed by the near-unanimous opinion of letter-writers (hundreds at the CBC site) that the CBC should keep using the iconic Hockey Night in Canada theme — and pay the songwriter what she was due. Canadians seem to agree: the songwriter deserves to get paid; the CBC should not be cheap and stupid about a song they would otherwise love to keep using. It’s a heartening reminder that many Canadians support artists and believe they are entitled to be paid in proportion to the value of the work they provide.

It’s the CBC attitude that is striking. Like so many producers and publishers, the people running this large organization have cottoned on the dubious new ideology that creative work should be freely (freely as in unpaidly) available — and turned it to the service of corporate cost-cutting. Why should we pay some songwriter, they say, like a kid downloading mp3 files.

The largest beneficiaries of Michael Geist’s anti-copyright arguments, turn out, again and again, not to be ordinary users — most of whom seem to agree that Dolores Claman is entitled to her licensing fee — but CanWest and Rogers and the CBC and all the rest, who use it as an argument to appropriate even more of creators’ rights and incomes.

The CBC has announced that if it loses the familiar theme, it will hold a “contest” and offer a prize of $100,000 for a new song: Songwriter Idol. And then they will get millions of dollars of value from the song, and the creator will be able to say, “Gee, I once won a contest” and “Do you want fries with that?” (Update: the CBC has now said it intends to offer royalties as well as the prize. Oddly, it has promised half the royalties to minor hockey — isn’t that the prerogative of the rightsholder?)

The Globe makes one good point in an editorial — this is not the national anthem. A program theme need not last forever, and there’s nothing wrong with introducing a new one. But they go wrong in criticizing the “expatriate” songwriter for expecting to go on being paid. Dolores Claman has been writing songs since the 1960s: she’s entitled to retire where she chooses. The editor of The Globe will not doubt one day have his winter place if Florida, and will not be sneered at as an expatriate journalist. Why the double standard for artists?

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