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I am an independent software and scientific consultant, as well as a writer and poet. As such, I've had to look at copyright laws from multiple perspectives.
As Canada attempts to modernize its copyright laws, a few issues loom large in my life:
The absolutely vital need for all Canadians to be practically able to exercise their right to fair dealing in a work, which means I stand strongly against any legislation that would include anti-circumvention of technological protection measures. Such laws create a de facto sphere of private copyright law, in which citizens are prevented from exercising their fair dealing rights by copyright holders, which is precisely what fair dealing is intended to prevent.
The abject failure of the DMCA in the United States to achieve any of its objectives. It has not supported independent artists, but rather studios and other middle-people who are using it as means of rent-seeking. Ergo, any attempt to impose on Canadians anything resembling the DMCA's notice-and-take-down process, for example, cannot be seen as based on anything other than political corruption at the highest levels of government: an act of war on Canadians by a government that has been (briefly) captured by American corporate interests.
The importance of reasonably short copyright terms — certainly no longer than the creator's lifetime.
Ideally, it should never be possible for copyright to be held by corporate entities — although of course corporate entities could own (possibly exclusive) licenses to copyrights held by individuals. The reasoning behind this is simple: only individuals create. Corporations only "create" what the individuals within them create.
Since copyright should only protect creators, it should only protect individuals. All corporate dealing in copyright should be permitted only through licensing. Only this kind of focus on individuals will properly live up to the government's claim to be concerned with the rights of artists, writers and other creators, rather than the intellectual property rents of corporations.
I am, unfortunately, extremely cynical about the interest of this government in listening to the voices of Canadian business-people such as myself, despite small and medium sized businesses being the economic engine of this country. I none-the-less look forward with hope that the sham town-halls packed with music-industry shills of the kind recently held in Toronto will not be used as a lame excuse to try to foist upon Canadians another egregiously offensive Act of the kind this government and its Liberal predecessor both tried to bring forward.
Strong and fully exercisable fair dealing rights.
No DMCA-like notice-and-takedown provisions.
Short copyright terms.
Strong protections for public domain works.
And ideally, copyrights to be held by individuals only, with licensing to deal with corporate holdings.
These are what I'd like to see enshrined in the upcoming law, and if the government behaves well on this it might even be enough to lure me back into the Conservative fold as voter.
Tom Radcliffe, Ph.D., P.Eng.
President, Predictive Patterns Software Inc.