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How do Canada's copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
Copyright laws affect every Canadian – from pharmaceutical patents to music downloads, copyright is incredibly important to everyday life. Existing laws should take into consideration that current laws favour large corporations that do not have the interest of the general citizen in mind but take into consideration profits of things that were created by people that have, in some cases, died. A good example would be Michael Jackson's music catalogue – many people profit from his entity but perhaps five years after he's died, the property should become public domain.
Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time
Copyright laws should take into consideration that the creators of ideas should benefit from their ideas in a "knowledge economy" but those ideas should not be leveraged by large corporations for large sums of money. For instance, if I download a song and and am charged with stealing it, I should only have to pay back the amount that I "stole" – if a song costs $1 on iTunes, I should be charged with that amount. Not a ridiculous sum of money to pay for record companies major losses. In a perfect world, downloading for personal use would not be actionable. I understand that piracy – selling other peoples' property for money should be illegal. But downloading a song? I can listen to that song on the radio or stream it on youtube.com – what's the difference if I download it or not? The consumer should not be responsible for the changing climate resulting from the digital revolution.
What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
Copyright laws do not foster innovation nor creativity. Those are intangible elements that come from a creative plight. Leonard Cohen never said, "I wrote Beautiful Losers after I broke a copyright law" This is political jargon.
That being said, public libraries should have something like Google books available – I sign in, download a book or movie or CD and it is recalled after 48 hours – something like that. Sure, you could illegally copy the material. But what's to stop you from you illegally copying something you physically borrowed from the library?
What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
I suppose if you made copyright laws more lenient in Canada, digital companies would feel better about operating in Canada. Sooner or later, the big companies would catch up like they did in Sweden with The Pirate Bay.
What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?
We already have an upper hand, being one of the best connected countries in the world. Teaching media literacy in schools is the first step – it should start in kindergarten. A more literate society is a more successful society. Britain says in its Digital Economy report that the internet is as necessary as a telephone these days. Canada should state the same if it hasn't already.
More tax money should go to news and media outlets like the CBC in their digital media departments. Universities should more willing teach programs that include digital media not just from a programming point of view, but from a cultural point of view. It's not just a science, it is a reality of our everyday culture, and it should be treated as such.
Please feel free to contact me for more information, or further discussion.
Nicolle Weeks, Toronto (currently living abroad in London, UK)