During July-Sept 2009, the Government of Canada held public copyright consultations, with an eye to writing new copyright law. They asked for submissions addressing five topics. Here’s one of my submissions, on “Copyright and you“. It’s hard to tell what will become of these consultations, because the government may fall (again) before Parliament gets a chance to pass a new bill. My submission may eventually show up on the official submissions page. Until then, here it is, for the record. I have two more submissions which I’ll dribble out in the coming days.
Q: How do Canada’s copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
A: This topic should not just be about copyright, it should also be about culture. I absorb culture, some of it through copyrighted works, some through public domain or non-copyrighted works. I also create works: essays, blog posts, musical performances, even submissions to government consultations. Thus I am *both* a producer and a consumer.
All culture is built by mixing and innovating based on previous culture. Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” was based on German folks tales written down a few centuries before.
The purpose of copyright is to strike a balance: to allow a limited right to prevent copying, in exchange for a larger social and cultural good. In today’s Canada, this balance has been greatly distorted, in favour of the publisher and the corporation, against the vast majority of artists, against the public, and against the culture. Digital technology, extra-long copyright terms, and aggressive policies by industry groups mean that publishers have greatly expanded their power to prevent copying. The public interest and the culture are harmed.
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