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1. How do Canada's copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
As an undergraduate student attending University, I am affected by Canada's copyright laws every day. From the articles in my textbooks to the music I listen to, to the videos I watch on YouTube, copyright is involved in my life in some way or another. I've happily supported artists by buying their albums and I have also downloaded music for free. I've paid to go to the movies innumerable times but I've also streamed old movies off of Google Video as well. If I download an album online, and I like it, then I have no problem buying a tangible copy of the album (usually a Vinyl) or paying for a ticket to see that artist in concert.
In regards to my education, I have paid substantial amounts of money for the required latest edition of textbooks that are only slightly different from their previous editions. This allows the publisher to continue to profit, and it prevents students from following the more affordable avenues of second-hand sales. I have also found all my required textbooks online for free, and some professors that I have had intentionally put such free online readings on the course syllabus out of protest of the inflated publishing industry.
In short, I am a regular consumer who at times happily follows the old paradigm of copyright and at other times follows the new paradigm that is unfolding with the Internet Age. I think the reactionary policies of our neighbours to the south are setting a poor precedent for handling copyright law and Canada should resist following suit. Corporate lobbyists would have the government believe that conceding to the consumer will lead to some sort of economic catastrophe. But capitalism thrives on the decision-making power of the consumer, and shouldn't we consumers get to decide how much we think an album is worth and how we want to go about getting it? This is especially the case when an album today can be no more than some data on a hard drive. Radiohead released their latest album on their website and allowed the consumer to decide how much they wanted to pay for it. It was like they were busking their album on a street corner with a "Donations" hat left open to the public.
As a Canadian citizen who believes in the values of my country, I am not suggesting that we should get whatever we want for free. Everything comes at a price, and as we are currently in the transitional period from one copyright paradigm to another, how copyrighted work is priced and consumed is changing. Therefore, the government should not be guided by the pressures of some lobbyists protecting their tired business model. Imagine the government protecting the interests of companies who sold VHS tapes or 8-track players! Buying plastic CDs in record stores distributed by major record labels is becoming a thing of the past just like any other dated medium. Thus, the government's policies should be shaped by balancing the trends of how the public consumes copyrighted material and not by what reaps the greatest profit for big businesses. This only stifles artistic endeavour.
I think their are two sides to the issue and perhaps both are misrepresented. The corporate side thinks that the consumer just wants to own or have access to any television program, movie, or album for free, and because the internet virtually allows this to be the case, the consumer circumvents the entire system in place.
Therefore, the consumer should be punished for "stealing" copyrighted property.
The other side thinks that technology now allows copyrighted material to be distributed and viewed for little to no cost whatsoever. PVR technology, Google Book scans, YouTube, etc., allow us to read books that we could never find at our populist local Chapters, watch recordings from old television broadcasts that we would never find on primetime TV, or even listen to music from some local band on the other side of the world that we would never have access to in our major label record store. Consumers are gladly willing to pay for services that give them such freedom, but what we don't want is for this freedom to be taken away, forcing us back into the old business models that are counter to prevailing technology.
One would be hard pressed to find a consumer who is entirely a "pirate", meaning they never pay a dime for any copyrighted work whatsoever. One would also be hard pressed to find a consumer who has not in some form or another embraced the benefits of the new paradigm of media sharing, whether they have streamed an album online, watched a copyrighted video on YouTube, or read a PDF scan of a book.
The consumer should not lose the freedom to enjoy the diversity and freedom of media on the internet. They should obviously not get it all for free as well.
However, letting the over-saturated industry control the price and distribution is not the way to go about it. For what is the internet but a massive library in every home?
At my local library, I pay an annual fee and have access to as many books as I want. The new media paradigm could follow a similar model.