Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.
To Whom It May Concern:
I have been working as a professional screenwriter in Canada for the past 10 years. I have been fortunate to have 3 television shows (Living In Your Car, TMN/MC; The Line, TMN/MC; This is Wonderland, CBC) and 1 feature film (Niagara Motel) produced. As a writer and creator of original material copyright laws have a significant bearing on my livelihood and until this process was initiated I was actually unaware of how significant the modernization of copyright laws are to me. As a Canadian screenwriter we are paid for the primary use of our material but not for any secondary uses. In other countries, eg. the U.S., writers are often employed by studios, they are paid a handsome salary and any material created during their employment is the property of the studio. As a freelance writer and creator, I, ostensibly, own what I create and in the digital age it is necessary for secondary uses to be regulated.
As outlined by the WGC, "the solution is to maintain copyright protection in the case of commercial uses and to allow, through collective licensing, for the commonplace non-commercial uses to which consumers have become accustomed. The solution for non-commercial use is collective licensing. This system already works for certain Canadian creators through the private copying levy — a modest fee on blank cassette tapes and CDs paid to the owners and authors of the sound recording. For instance, SOCAN collects funds from the private copying levy and distributes them as royalties to composers and music publishers. A similar levy can be added to ISPs, PVRs, hard drives and more, effectively licensing consumers to freely copy works for noncommercial purposes — they've paid for the right. No policing or enforcement necessary, and no criminalizing of common consumer behaviour. A win-win for consumers and creators."
Since I am not an expert in copyright law I have included the answers to these questions as outlined by the WGC below. The arguments are sound, valid and very fair.
Thank you for your consideration,
Question 2: How should existing laws be modernized?
Rather than criminalizing commonplace consumer behaviours, we can use the Private Copying regime as a model for a new copying regime for personal use that more fully reflects consumer practices in the digital age. Pairing something like a new private copying regime with a collective licensing system would match the consumer's desire with the creator's due. Canadian copyright law should recognize international standards in copyright by ratifying and implementing the WIPO Treaty.
Question 3: Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time?
Canadians are nothing if not fair-minded — they understand that the creators of the film and TV they enjoy should be paid for that content, that they have mortgages and bills to pay as well. There could be no professionally produced content otherwise. In order to withstand the test of time, Canadian copyright law should be technology neutral — it should in this sense be based in general principles rather than on specific technologies. Enshrining the principle of access and remuneration through collective licensing will allow us to apply it to a wide variety of technologies, current, emerging and future. Fair Dealing: there has been a lot of talk out there about expanding fair dealing. Right now, fair dealing allows copying some or all of a work for research, private study, review, criticism or reporting. Advocates for expansion of fair dealing, particularly the library and education sectors, wish to avoid paying licence fees to play movies or make copies of books and other materials for students or researchers. While it is understandable for education and library professionals to want to save money, they are salaried staff. Screenwriters and other creators are unsalaried and, while they want wide distribution of their work, they cannot afford to give it away. Such blanket extensions of fair dealing would be done at the creators' expense, eliminating for them an existing and fair revenue stream.
Documentary producers too are calling for an expansion of fair dealing to allow them to reproduce copyright material in their documentaries without having to clear and possibly pay for rights. While it is understandable that documentary producers want to save money and time spent clearing rights, documentaries are, like other commercial productions, created with the intent to make money, and to reproduce another creator's work for commercial gain without paying that creator or at least obtaining their consent is not fair.
Other than amending fair dealing to allow for parody and satire (which is currently not included), we are recommending the government avoid the general weakening of fair dealing.
Question 4: What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
Creativity and innovation thrive in a culture where they are rewarded. Fair compensation for creators means that they have the resources and incentives to continue to create and further innovation. Consumer desires for easy access and use find a match in creators' desire for wide distribution and audience. A culture that supports this exchange rewards both consumers and creators. We can achieve this through collective licensing, and thereby create in Canada a sustainable culture of creativity and innovation.
Question 5: What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
Canada should ratify our international WIPO treaties so that we can live up to our international obligations. The WIPO treaties contain important rights and protections for creators, and act as an international standard around copyright.
Canada should avoid copyright legislation that mirrors U.S.-style DMCA which imposes stiff penalties on consumers. Maintain stiff penalties for commercial infringement, but open up consumer use through collective licensing.
Question 6: What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?
Canada needs a National Digital Strategy, and creators need to be part of the discussion that informs it. To date, the chief voices at the table in the conferences and brainstorming sessions around the Strategy have been bureaucrats, academics and representatives of technology companies. Innovative content is a key component of the Canadian digital economy. It's not just about email and ecommerce. Content is king.
Canada can lead the global digital economy by rewarding innovation and creativity. Fair compensation to creators through collective licensing will encourage creators to be on the forefront of innovation, and ensure Canada produces the kind of compelling, professional content that will draw international audiences.