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- How do Canada's copyright laws affect you?
- I am an independent recording artist/composer. On one hand, having received residual revenue as a result of my copyrighted compositions, I absolutely support the rights of creators to be compensated for their work. However, as a jazz musician, my main concern is with respect to the concept of public domain. Part of our role as jazz musicians is to re-interpret standard repertoire in our own fashion, by adding our own unique voice to strengthen and advance the jazz tradition. Many standard songs were written decades ago, by artists/composers who were often coerced into unfair contracts with large record companies and publishing houses. This is where we must make a distinction between "copyright holders" and "content creators". They are often not the same.
- 1a. How should existing laws be modernized?
- Copyright length should absolutely not be extended. 50 years after the death of a composer is sufficient to ensure that his/her heirs benefit from his/her work for more than a generation. A longer copyright term than this will only inhibit access to and advancement of culture.
- Also, rights should not be legally allowed to be purchased by a third party after the fact; they should belong solely to the creator and anyone he/she chooses to share these rights with while he/she is alive. Otherwise, by allowing copyrights to be purchased by corporate entities and extended at their whim, only a small number of executives will benefit from the use of these works to the detriment of society at large.
- Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time?
- Because technology moves so quickly, any legislation should not be technology-specific in wording. It should be mandatory that independent (ie: not associated with any particular corporate entity that may pose a conflict of interest) experts in the IT field be consulted extensively prior to making any legislative changes that may be technology-sensitive.
- Any references to specific technologies must allow exceptions for fair dealing in circumstances including but not limited to education, parody and archiving.
- Canadians value free-speech and political discourse/dissent. We also value access to our culture and to education. Any changes must reflect these values, not those of foreign corporate interests.
- What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
- Innovation feeds on existing culture. A healthy public domain, as well as comprehensive, easy and affordable access to copyrighted works are two things that are absolutely crucial in order for innovation and creativity to occur, and therefore for Canadian cultural identity to continue to evolve.
- What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
- Education is the backbone of business/economic activity. If educators can be assured that they will be protected from legal action by way of fair-dealings clauses in copyright legislation, students and researchers will have access to the tools they need in order to participate in growing the economy.
- What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?
- Laws and policies must be able to keep up with the fast pace of digital technology. Effective systems must be implemented to ensure easy and affordable access to copyrighted works. For example, the CMRRA administers replication rights for copyrighted works on physical units; the same affordable comprehensive system must be made available for digital distribution of said works. As it stands now, there is no structure of remotely comparable efficiency; all entities involved are scrambling to keep up with the technology at a great cost to artists and copyright holders alike.
- Another example is that broadcasters are now having to pay many times over to broadcast the same content; quickly-changing technology is forcing them to change formats or make several available at once (CDs, MP3s, etc.). Legislation should mandate that broadcasters need only pay for one license per copyrighted work and be legally allowed unlimited rights to shift among formats according to demand.
There must also be laws to protect consumers; no copyright holder should ever be allowed to revoke a product that a customer has already paid for, or prevent said customer from using a product they have rightfully purchased (ie: allow circumventing regional encoding in order to view a legitimately purchased DVD from another country). Again, I reiterate, copyrighted works must be made available easily at an affordable rate. Consumers are willing to pay for reasonably-priced quality products, and this is a very important factor in a healthy economy.