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Copyright laws affect me on a daily basis. In fact, they probably affect a greater percentage of citizens today than they did decades ago. The Internet, for one, has radically changed how we consume, distribute and create content. Copyright laws need to take these new technologies into account and create legislation that balances control for the content creators and owners with strong fair use provisions that allow us to use content from the commons of our culture and create new, derivative content.
We are not clairvoyant and, therefore, can only guesstimate what the technological and creative landscape will look like decades down the road. With this in mind, copyright legislation should not talk about specific formats or distribution mediums. They should be broad and be adaptable to *any* sort of content. Whether we are talking about a book or a video is mostly irrelevant. We need to assess the ways that information is shared electronically today and develop legislation based on that.
Strong fair use laws would be a good start. To create a parody of protected content should not be an infringement of the law. Secondly, strong fair use provisions for the education community should be enacted. Finally, as a consumer, I should have the right to do whatever I want with the content that I have legally purchased. Anti-circumvention laws should be reconsidered. Format-shifting laws need to be progressive and liberal.
Copyright already rests strongly in the favour of the content owners. Lengthy copyright terms and strong patent laws have put the balance of power in the hands of large corporations – giving individuals very little recourse when they are sued for large monetary sums. Balance needs to return. Competition and investment stems from creativity, and one needs to provide copyright laws that allows derivative works to be built upon existing works. Mash-ups are a good example of this.
It's not copyright law that will strengthen Canada's position in this area. That said, by allowing some of the provisions I have already discussed, we can give our citizens the tools that they need to create new works without infringing on abstract concepts of copyright.