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I am a concerned Canadian that feels that changes to Canada's copyright laws have to take into account the needs and wishes of Canadians.
The Government of Canada is the peoples representative. The Government of Canada is not the representative of business or special interest groups. Individual Canadians vote for representation of our interests. I do not see any way for corporations or special interest groups to register to vote in any election.
I hope that as representatives of the Government, thus the people, you will listen and take the citizens of the country as your number one priority.
Copyright has changed over the last couple of decades to become a tool of major corporations to form monopolies and stifle innovation. It isn't in the public's best interest any more. Even many artists are saying that it isn't even in their interest. The present extensions to copyright have provided a monopoly on thoughts and ideas.
Throughout history, writers have borrowed story lines and plots from previous authors in their own works. In some cases, great masterpieces have occurred from these, using today's terms, copyright violations. Many of the works of Shakespeare would be illegal if our present copyright laws were in place in his time.
Look at the aspects of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the United States. This legislation has been used to stifle fair competition and free speech. It has tied companies up in court, costing them large amounts of money to defend themselves from companies trying to stop competition. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has looked at the consequences of the DMCA and presented a paper available from here.
Unintended Consequences: Seven Years under the DMCA http://www.eff.org/wp/unintended-consequences-seven-years-under-dmca
Canada should make sure we don't fall into the same trap that has been foisted on citizens of the United States by business groups seeking greater powers to control peoples actions through legislation.
Anti-circumvention provisions within copyright can affect users and researchers. In my case, I look at a time I went to purchase a CD from a local artist. I brought it home and I couldn't play it in my home computer system due to Digital Restrictions Management. Yes, I know that many call it Digital Rights Management, but the main purpose is to restrict access, not permit access. I had to return the CD as it was not playable. In order to listen to this artist, my only option was to download music that was stripped of the restrictions.
Look at the cost to consumers due to changing technology and changing business plans. There are thousands of consumers of digital music that has been controlled with DRM technologies and when the companies folded, their legally purchased products become useless. They have lost access to a legally purchased product. Only in the digital domain can this be done. Anti-circumvention techniques can be used to recover and keep a legally purchase product.
Sony, in their drive to control consumers access to media ended up opening up their customers computers to major attacks with their software. This affected both Sony's business and their customers in a very negative way. The Sony Root-kit issue is still looked at as a big reason why DRM is bad.
HDCP, as implemented by the media companies is affecting many consumers. They have spent their hard earned dollars on new equipment only to find that the media companies are restricting their usage because they didn't get the latest, greatest version with the best consumer content control hardware. They purchased a new media centre for High Definition content only to find that it won't output the HD content to their two year old HD TV. Anti-circumvention technology is available to these customers to enable them to enjoy the best of their technology but it could become illegal.
TiVo customers in the USA have found that their digital recorders erased recorded programs under the control of the media companies. Digital E-book customers have had digital books that they purchased deleted because of a copyright mistake.
Lets not fall into the corporate trap of making Canadians hard earned dollars spent on digital content or hardware be wasted to appease some business. This is where the Government of Canada is supposed to represent the people and find a balance in the legislation for the country of Canada, not the companies controlled by the United States.
Copyright extensions are another issue. The original terms of copyright were to allow individuals to recover there costs on their work. Not to generate generations of income from one work. The recent extensions to copyright have created an atmosphere that stifles many types of innovation and creative processes.
How many people can earn an income for work that they did 20 years ago? How about 40 years ago? How many people can earn an income and not have to do any work due to something that they did 20 years ago?
Copyrights are necessary but the time limit needs to be reasonable. We have to be careful about copyrights and who benefits from them. As with Patent Trolls, we have copyright trolls that are just purchasing copyrights to base their business on. They are not contributing to the betterment of society from their purchases, they are only doing this to make money.
Copyrights should only be for the creators and not businesses that are not involved with the creation. Copyrights shouldn't be able to be sold or transferred like cows or cars. They should remain the property of the family and descendant's of the creator.
A song like "Happy Birthday" has been around since 1924 and you can still end up in court for singing this song in a restaurant to your little child on their birthday. Do we extend the copyright on this song for another generation? The people who wrote this song have been dead for decades. What benefit is there to the author?
Under the WIPO the maximum term for recording (Article 17) states 50 years minimum. This is actually too long in my opinion but it is much better than 95 or longer terms.
Fair use. This is a term that most media corporations would love to be totally removed from the public. They would like fair use removed so they can control all media access.
Schools need fair use to allow them to teach today's current events. Material that is necessary for teaching current events and news related subjects require the ability to use copyrighted material.
Students need access to copyrighted material under fair use for various reasons. Music for class room presentations. Video's for home work on current events. Pictures and statistics for school reports. The list can go on to cover almost every type of media. In some of these cases, DRM circumvention will be necessary.
Handicapped need fair use to produce material that can work with various tools to help. Text to voice translators. Voice to text translators. Scanners and magnifiers.
Fair use for media conversion. Convert from Video Tape to DVD. Convert from DVD to a home media server. Convert from DVD or CD to digital music for portable digital players. In all the above cases, methods of getting around DRM or anti-copy techniques need to be allowed.
Another area of fair use is when the media companies do not support your method of playing. Look at the computer market. There are three main operating systems in use right now. The main one is Microsoft Windows but there are also the Mac and Linux users. There are many examples where the media companies put digital restrictions on their products and they can only be used in Windows. Mac and Linux customers do not have an option to use this media. The only way that they can be used is to open up the media restrictions. An example of this is DeCSS for Linux to allow the playing of DVD's on Linux. The next domain is the Blu-Ray. Only circumvention is allowing Blu-Ray disks to be played on Linux.
Fair use is also the domain of independent documentary producers. Many of them have used clips from movies or TV shows to illustrate a point during a production. Without fair use, many documentaries may never be released.
Fair use for bloggers is a very big issue. Many companies are using DMCA and copyright legislation to stop bloggers from releasing information that companies don't want released. Apple has used these tools to stop many from releasing rumours or information gathered about new and upcoming products or information on file formats or software security risks.
Again, fair use needs to be protected. If I listen to a radio at work, I shouldn't be libel if someone else can listen to it. I shouldn't have to fear that some copyright police force is going to come in an write me a ticket.
Public performances are one thing, playing a CD in my work place is not a public performance, even when it can be heard by others. There is a difference. When it is run through a PA system, that makes it a public performance.
Radio signals need to be looked at as well. If I run a business and run a local radio station through the PA system that is just an amplification of a public signal. It isn't really that different from each customer from having a radio on.
I could go on and cite many examples of how legislation in the USA has been shown to over reach the benefits to the public. The Government of Canada needs to learn from these lessons. They need to read the news and see the businesses and families destroyed by false and far reaching application of laws.
The Government of Canada needs to do their own studies on the "facts" that the USA media and their Canadian partners are presenting for the need to change the laws. Many of the statistics have already been shown to be hyped up and wrong to win the corporations battle. Not based on facts.
The people of Canada need our Government to act on our behalf to protect our rights and to represent us. We need a government that looks at the good and bad copyright laws made in other countries around the world and choose the best plan for Canada.
My Government should look at any international treaties and see if they are actually good or are they being influenced by corporations for their benefits. Are the actual creators of the works being protected the real benefactors of these changes or corporations that say that they are acting in the best interests of the artists. Corporations that have many times in the past fought with these same artists over copyright payments and usage. If the international treaty is wrong, then the government will work to change it.
A good Government will do what is best for it's voters.
Medicine Hat, Alberta