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1. How do Canada's copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
As the owner of a software business, and as a musician/songwriter, I'm intimitely aware of copyright law and its protections on my creative works. And I value these. But as a music listener and as someone who contributes to community-oriented software projects like the open source movement, I'm also aware of the need for limits on overbearing rights for artists or industry that limit other rights we used to enjoy as listeners.
For example, it's considered fair use to make duplicate copies of a creative work for your own backup, or for enjoying your purchases on other formats (coverting old vinyl LPs to computer for example). Yet new formats like DVDs or DRM-encoded audio files prevent me as a listener from doing this without circumventing their protections. These protections are basically extensions to their existing rights that infringe on a listener's rights, motivated by the fear that listeners won't buy any more if a free alternative is available.
This is a false assumption, demonstrated for decades with things like recordable cassette tapes, VHS, and CDs not having destroyed the music or movie industries. And people seem to be purchasing more than ever from iTunes, despite the existence of free but legally-questionable alternatives.
However the laws are modernized, a fair balance that recognizes the rights of listeners and consumers needs to be struck.
2. Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time
Preservation of our culture occurs through the arts. But most artists are small-time folks, not the ones making millions from their work. Any changes that benefit the top tier of artists at the sake of the smaller ones will hurt our culture, especially so since the major music and movie industries are predominantly not Canadian.
Many of the new online services are actually used by smaller artists to increase their exposure. These new technologies represent not a threat but an opportunity for the majority of artists. And artists, creative by nature, are finding ways of profiting from these or continuing to profit from their work. So in order to preserve Canadian cultural interests, our copyright laws should reflect this spirit of embracing new technologies as new opportunities, not as threats.
3. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
Increased protection for consumer rights. Increased protection and clarification in the law regarding "remixing" and creating derivative works so the boundaries are more clearly defined as to what's allowed regarding remixes, "mash-ups" and source code sharing such as open source. The more clearly defined these are, the less hesitant smaller innovators will be since they won't be afraid they might be stepping on someone's toes who might squash them later, so to speak.
4. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
Competition is best fostered through openness. Creating additional protections for existing businesses may increase their investment in Canada initially, but inhibits smaller competitors (who are really the ones who shake things up and move things forward) from participating. The smaller opportunists and entrepreneurs of the arts will simply go elsewhere to more forward-thinking places.
5. What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?
I actually don't think our system is that bad to begin with. Combined with the strong privacy rights we enjoy, which help protect individuals in Canada from RIAA style organizations and their blanket lawsuits, our current copyright laws should be able to easily serve as a foundation to build on. But we could strengthen rights by requiring open formats that are accessible for things like duplication for backup or archival, or transferring across machines as we upgrade our technology.
It strikes me as absurd that music I can acquire for free has no trouble being transferred, and yet music I've paid for can't be copied from one machine that I own to another that I also own. Half-baked DRM ("rights management" what a ridiculously misleading term!) should not be tolerated if they prevent consumers from exercising their rights.