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).

Suing the bastards — ERDC gets certification

By Op-Ed Editor | April 16, 2009

Excellent news from The Electronic Rights Defence Committee of Montreal

After more than a decade, the Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) has received authorization from Quebec Superior Court to proceed with a class action suit against some of the biggest names in Canadian media.

At issue is electronic use without permission or compensation for work by freelance writers in The Montreal Gazette. The defendants are the Montreal Gazette Group, CanWest Global Communications, Hollinger Canadian Publishing Holdings, CanWest Interactive, Southam and Southam Business Communications, Infomart Dialog and Cedrom-SNI.

In February 2008, the Honourable Eva Petras, J.S.C., heard three days of arguments from Mireille Goulet – the ERDC lawyer, and a team of lawyers representing the defendants. The Justice’s decision was rendered March 31, 2009. It authorizes the ERDC to institute class action proceedings with writer and translator David Homel as its official designated member. The class action group includes all freelance writers whose articles, originally published in The Gazette, have been allegedly illegally reproduced on the Infomart data base since 1984.

The next steps will lead toward a trial on the merits of the case, a process which may take several years to reach a conclusion.

The ERDC case is one of several in North America seeking compensation for unauthorized electronic use of freelance writers’ work. In October 2007, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled five to four in the Heather Robertson vs. Thomson case that freelancers do indeed hold copyright on their work reproduced in electronic data bases. The US$ 18-million class action settlement in the United States which followed from the Tasini vs. New York Times case is currently before the US Supreme Court, which has agreed to decide whether a lower court has jurisdiction to approve settlement agreements. The Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec (AJIQ) is also currently in the process of undertaking a class action against several Quebec media providers.

For more information: Mary Soderstrom, ERDC president, 514 276-9257, David Homel, ERDC class representative, 514 288-6690 Link to judgment (in English) http://www.jugements.qc.ca/ (Search for Superior Court decisions in March 2009 (cour superieure, keyword: ERDC)

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Ivor Tossell on the Google settlement

By Christopher Moore | March 27, 2009

Ivor Tossell has some thoughtful coverage of the Google-Authors Guild settlement in today’s Globe & Mail entertainment. As he says:

What we’re looking at here isn’t, at the heart of things, yet another online effort to post free content and pay for it with ads. No, Google is using a somewhat older business model: offering a product, and asking people to pay for it. That marks one sensible retreat from the free-for-all world of tomorrow we’ve been promised all these years.

Ivor only goes thuddingly wrong once in the piece, when he declares copyright-holders were “nonplussed” by Google’s project. Actually, the copyright-holders were years ahead of the web gurus here. They were ready to licence their works to Google (or others); they just wanted to get paid proportionally to the value they were providing. It was clear for years (hell, I wrote about it years ago, and I was not the first) that licencing their content was the point of the authors’ lawsuit. That’s what Google has now conceded.

The only people nonplussed, I’d say, were experts like Lawrence Lessig and Tim Wu, who feared that a licencing deal between Google and rightsholders would undermine their everything-must-be-free-for-the-taking approach to digital content. The “sensible retreat” Ivor hails is what many creators have been promoting all along: access and licensing.

The television analogy seems to be looming larger and larger. When television was “free,” it was mostly that “vast wasteland.” Now people are actually prepared to pay for television, and hey, there’s some good stuff being made and offered. They say things move faster in the digital universe, so maybe we won’t wait fifty years for this one.

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Songwriters… getting the message through

By Op-Ed Editor | March 24, 2009

The Songwriters got lots of flak just over a year ago when they proposed a blanket licence at a nominal fee for downloading. But their ideas and the principles behind them seem to be gaining traction, even in unlikely quarters. Today Michael Geist gives grudging respect to the proposal in an essay published in The Tyee.

There are no links in Geist’s piece, but you can see the Songwriters proposal for yourself at their site here.

Update (Mar 25): Michael Geist points out he should not be considered an “unlikely” supporter, having “consistently supported the SAC’s efforts (even if disagreeing with elements of the proposal, some of which have now been addressed).” He invites us to look again at his posts on the SAC proposal:

http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2435/125/

http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2714/125/

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Writers’ Union on e-rights

By Op-Ed Editor | March 17, 2009

The Writers’ Union recently released the following recommendation to its members:

WARNING

It has come to the attention of the Contracts Committee that a number of publishers have been launching electronic book and print-on-demand initiatives. These publishers are encouraging writers to participate in their projects and are offering royalties for e-book sales at rates from as low as 10% of net sale price.

The Contracts Committee thinks that 15% or 25% of net or even of retail is unacceptable.

The Committee’s additional concern is that these initiatives may lock up both your electronic and print rights for your book with the publisher more or less forever.

We strongly recommend that, right now, you do not sign new agreements, letter agreements or addenda to current publishing agreements that authorize e-books and p.o.d. without first consulting the TWUC office.

The Contracts Committee

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Another copyright conflab

By Op-Ed Editor | March 13, 2009

*Thursday, March 26, 2009
* Speaker: Richard Owens*
* **_Who Says It’s Fair? The Politics of Fair Dealing and the Artist_*

This talk will examine the nature and extent of the right of fair dealing under the Copyright Act (Canada) and the debate on using the implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty to radically enlarge fair dealing rights. Is any such enlargement justified, especially after the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in CCH? The issues will be explored from the perspective of the creative artist and, in particular, with reference to photographers and their creations.

Date: Thursday, March 26, 2009
Lunch 12:00 pm
Program 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm
Place: Heenan Blaikie
Royal Bank Plaza, South Tower
23^rd Floor, 200 Bay Street
Toronto, ON
In the Terry Fox and Pearson Boardrooms
Cost: Non-members – $35.00 Members – $25.00 Creators – $15.00

For details email Rita [at] hebbsheffer.ca.

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Copyright conflab

By Op-Ed Editor |

Attached: notice for a copyright conference in Toronto on Wednesday, March 18 that Olivia Chow is hosting. With Michael Geist, Charlie Angus, and a librarian on one side, can’t help thinking Stephen Waddell of ACTRA and Don Quarles of the Songwriters may set up for another one of those “balance means you give and we take” onslaughts here — but they’ll endure. (h/t to Slaw.)

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Monetizing digitizing, part 1,000,000

By Op-Ed Editor | March 2, 2009

New York Times on monetizing the process by which blogs and online aggregators excerpt published work. If Google News makes a business out of referring readers to others’ work, and Google collects ad revenue from the process, does it owe a slice of its take to all the sites it’s referencing?

Yup, probably.

And here we are linking to them too. This gets self-referential real fast.

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Darnton on Google

By Op-Ed Editor | February 5, 2009

There’s been much linking-to of Robert Darnton’s essay Google and the Future of Books in the New York Review of Books

He does give much information and much to ponder, but it all seems suffused with what might be called the Librarian’s Fallacy: that access that is not free (as in unpaid) is access denied. And the fears about some particularly dangerous Google monopoly seems Chicken-Littlish. Digital technology has indeed been a tremendous creator of near-monopolies, but technology has a way of overcoming them too. Two words: WordPerfect 4.2 (How many words is that?). Remember all the litigation over Internet Explorer’s monopoly? IE certainly killed Netscape Navigator, but now Firefox and the others seem perfectly capable of replacing IE should users be inclined to change.

The root fear of this article seems to be of new evidence of how flexible copyright actually is, how it can adapt to new technologies and situations, how respect for creators’ rights can actually coexist with digital technology without the sky falling.

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Imagine working in magazines and trying to hold your head up….

By Op-Ed Editor | January 21, 2009

…when the state of the business is like this.

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Daily smile

By Op-Ed Editor | December 15, 2008

..courtesy of Lawrence Lessig’s site

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