The latest I have read is that by-elections for Guelph,Westmount–Ville-Marie, and Saint Lambert will be called on July 20 witha vote set for Monday, September 8. Those of us that consider faircopyright to be an important election issue are already excited by thecandidacy of Tom King, a celebrated Canadian author, broadcaster, andUniversity of Guelph professor (Read his “About me” for details — you will very likely already know of him)

Mr King has indicated he will make copyright fairness an issue during the by-election, and has already announced an event in Toronto on July 24, 2008 to meet with regional artists, activists and academics who are opposed to the Conservatives’ Bill C-61.

The following is my Q&A with him.


Russell: I wish to apologize if the preamble to any of thesequestions is leading. It is hard to get at the views our community ismost interested in without providing context. If these are toodetailed, or too long, please answer what is interesting to you or whatwould best convey your own perspective on this complex topic.

The government suggests that Copyright is about striking anappropriate balance between creators and consumers. While we allbelieve that creators should be fairly compensated, creators have beendivided on how to modernize copyright.

For instance, compare the stated views of the Creators CopyrightCoalition (CCC) and those of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition(CMCC) or Appropriation Art (AA). While CMCC and AA members are alsocounted (sometimes more than once) as CCC members for statistics, theviews they express are very different.

One area of discussion is the impact of technology. Some creatorsbelieve that allowing citizen control over communications technologywould be a great benefit, and other creators see this as a threat.

Q. Where do you stand on the benefit or threat of new media/technology?

Tom King: Digital technology has transformed our world inways that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. Peopleall over the world have access to ideas, information and each other.This technology has created a virtual public “commons” that needs to benourished and developed.

From an arts point of view, we see more and more artists taking control of their own outreach, networking and distribution.

But these new technologies also expose artists’ works to massdistribution without compensation. This is not fair. I firmly believethat there is work to do to find ways to remunerate artists for theirwork in a digital age.

But it doesn’t seem to me that the proposed legislation, C-61,tabled by Conservative Industry Minister Jim Prentice last month,achieves this. No artists are going to benefit by legislation that goesafter citizens who break a digital lock so they can watch their DVD ontheir video I-pod.

Balanced copyright legislation would be able to tell thedifference between commercial bootleggers and private citizens whosimply want to listen to a CD without being worried whether or not thedigital lock will allow it to be played on a car stereo. Jim Prenticemissed the mark by a mile.

Russell: One way to reduce the “threat” from new technologyis to reduce the ability of individual citizens to control technology.While this may reduce copyright infringement, it also reducescreativity as the tools used to record, edit and distribute and accesscreativity are the same whether it is used for creativity orinfringement.

Locking down devices so that their owners are less able to controlthem is one of the policies we have seen recently (1995 USA NationalInformation Infrastructure task force, 1996 WIPO treaties, USA DMCA,Canadian Bill C-60 and Bill C-61).

We created a petition to oppose this policy direction http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition…

Q2. Do you believe that the tools which provide the primary means ofproduction and distribution of knowledge should be under the control ofprivate citizens, or some third party? If a third party, who shouldthat party be? If citizens, would you endorse our petition?

Tom King: At the end of the day you can’t make technologyillegal. You can’t stop innovation because it threatens a particularbusiness model. If this were the case the monks in the medieval ageswould have been able to eradicate the printing press or Hollywood wouldhave been successful in its war against the VHS machine.

The issue with copyright is how these technologies are utilized.I don’t support anyone’s “right” to massively transfer movies or music.But I don’t support trying to stamp out new technologies just becauseit upsets a traditional corporate business model.

There is a larger philosophical fight that is taking place here.Corporate interests are actually using digital locks to prescribe allkinds of personal use which was never part of copyright in the past. Ifyou buy a book it doesn’t catch fire after five people have read it.Neither should the digital locks being applied on legally purchasedcontent be used to limit your personal use of such works. We have to bewary of attempts to use digital locks to actually radically rewriteCanadian copyright policy.

Russell: One way to make copyright less complex and far lesscontroversial is to have it focus on public activities, and less onactivities (such as the creation of personal copies) which moderntechnology has made private. Private activities such as time, deviceand format shifting of lawfully acquired content, could be carved outof copyright though a living fair-use regime.

Q3. Would you support or reject the idea of carving out private activities from copyright?

Tom King: If I buy a CD and wish to put it on my iPod,computer and make a copy for the car, that seems to me to be areasonable or fair use of my legally acquired material.

In terms of protecting artists, I support the blank levy that hasbeen in place for artists. This allows some revenue stream to return tothe artistic community. I am very disturbed that Minister Prentice hasput aside the issue of the blank levy on new technologies. It seems tome that the government is walking away on a “made in Canada” compromisebetween personal use and copying which is balanced off against therights of artists.

Russell: Many people see Copyright in terms of a balancebetween rights articulated in the United Nations Universal Declarationof Human Rights: 17. Property (tangible), 19. Expression , 26.Education, 27. Cultural and Creators’ rights.

4. As a human rights activist, how well do you feel we have balanced these rights so far?

Tom King: Copyright is a balancing act. The Canadiangovernment is sliding away from this balancing of public interest andartistic ownership. Instead we seem to be moving towards the U.S. modelwhich provides heavy legislative hammers to be applied by largecorporate interests against private citizens. This is not the Canadianway.

5. Is there a specific balance that makes sense to “harmonize”internationally, or is there a right balance for each country, or foreach different stage of development?

Tom King: There are many standards for intellectualproperty that are international. Canada has always followed thesenorms. But the American model isn’t “international” in any degree. Itis a protectionist model that puts the interests of the U.S. corporatesector ahead of national and cultural standards. Canada doesn’t need tobe bullied by the U.S. trade lobby. Other countries are moving forwardwith balanced copyright. We need to be doing the same.

6. Domestically, do you believe that Canada has had the rightbalance in the past, and the right balance with recently proposedlegislation?

Tom King: Finding the right balance is exactly whatlegislators should be seeking to find right now. That can only happenwith extensive consultation with all stakeholders – including artists,educators, consumers and innovators. I don’t know what MinisterPrentice was thinking by failing to consult in any meaningful way withCanadians before tabling this bill. By most accounts you needed a U.S.passport and to be employed by an industry giant to be consulted onC-61.

This bill has missed the mark by a wide, wide margin.Criminalizing personal use and paving the way for big companies to sueordinary Canadians for perfectly reasonable, non-commercial, privateuse of legally acquired material is no balance at all, in my opinion.

7. Do you believe that Canada’s position on these issues has beenhelpful or harmful to other countries, especially majority-worldcountries?

Tom King: Canada has worked to live up to its obligationsto stop counterfeiting and the illegal bootlegging of intellectualproperty. But the DMCA model turns ordinary citizens into criminals. Ittreats personal use the same as it does counterfeiting operations.There is no upside in Canada rubber-stamping the misguided approach ofthe DMCA. It is a waste of resources.

8. Do you believe that copyright discussions should be moreinclusive of creators beyond creators of art and entertainment? If so,how would you encourage fellow parliamentarians towards a betterbalance?

Tom King: Everyone is impacted by copyright. Students,teachers, artists and innovators are all part of the copyright debate.The NDP has been consistently calling for wide-scale, comprehensiveconsultation with Canadians before tabling any new bill. If the peopleof Guelph elect me to be their representative in the House of Commons,there is no question that I would add my voice to the united chorus ofall NDP MPs who are calling for a more balanced approach.

Russell: There are many mechanisms to compensate creators.The debate around enforcing compensation appears to come down to aquestion of locks (locks on content, locks on devices), levies(compulsory licensing) or lawsuits (suing those who infringecopyright). Locks remove choices from software authors and technologyowners (including creators), and levies only support a single businessmodel for creators (collecting royalties). Only enforceable andenforced (via lawsuits) contracts can support a full spectrum ofoptions for methods of creation, distribution and funding for bothcreators and their customers.

9. Should Canada be providing legal protection or other encouragement for digital locks on content and/or devices?

Tom King: The biggest problem with Bill C-61 is not thefact that legal protection is given to digital locks. It’s that thesedigital locks are able to override all other rights, including commonsense. Every single “consumer friendly” provision of the bill isoverridden by the provisions that protect the supremacy of the locks.To me this seems ludicrous. If the government tells me it’s legal to dosomething, there is no reason that a multi-billion dollar,profit-driven industry should be able to tell me that it’s not.

10. Should we be using more or less compulsory licensing in Canada?Should we reserve this option only for extreme situations? Whatcriteria would you propose?

Tom King: This question is something that we need to discuss at a greater length.

Russell: There are alternative methods of production anddistribution, such as peer production and peer distribution, which donot rely on counting copies or collecting royalties. This reducescopyright infringement by royalty-free licensing what citizens want todo, leaving a few commercial companies as potential infringers. Whilethese methods do not work for all creativity, there are some such suchas software (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) andeducational/scientific/medical knowledge (Open Access) where this isthe fastest growing part of that sector.

11. Do you think Canada should be supporting and promotingalternative royalty-free methods of production and distribution wherepossible?

Tom King: My expertise in the specifics of royalties,production and distribution is not as great as I would like it to be,and I would have to spend time with smarter people than myself, lookingat this issue.

Russell: For other ridings I have asked about the incumbent,and how the candidates views compare to that person. In this case thereis no incumbent, and the past MP didn’t seem to have anything to say onrelated issues.

12. For any candidates where you are aware they have expressed viewson copyright or other technology law issues, how would youdifferentiate your views on copyright from them?

Tom King: I don’t know what the other Guelph candidateshave to say on this issue. You would have to ask them. For my part, youcan count on me to push for fair usage for Canadians.

Any analysis of C-61 shows that the Conservatives don’t believethey need to balance the interests of everyday consumers or artistsagainst the U.S. corporate lobby – who has been working flat out tosmuggle this DMCA knock-off into the House of Commons.

I am an artist and a broadcaster. I care about these issues. Ihope we’ll have a chance to debate some of these issues in the upcomingbyelection.

Russell McOrmond is a self employed consultant, policy coordinator for CLUE: Canada’s Association for Free/Libre and Open Source Software, co-coordinator for Getting Open Source Logic INto Governments (GOSLING), and host for Digital Copyright Canada.

The latest I have read is that by-elections for Guelph, Westmount–Ville-Marie, and Saint Lambert will be called on July 20 with a vote set for Monday, September 8. Those of us that consider fair copyright to be an important election issue are already excited by the candidacy of Tom King, a celebrated Canadian author, broadcaster, and University of Guelph professor (Read his “About me” for details — you will very likely already know of him)

Mr King has indicated he will make copyright fairness an issue during the by-election, and has already announced an event in Toronto on July 24, 2008 to meet with regional artists, activists and academics who are opposed to the Conservatives’ Bill C-61.

The following is my Q&A with him.


Russell: I wish to apologize if the preamble to any of these questions is leading. It is hard to get at the views our community is most interested in without providing context. If these are too detailed, or too long, please answer what is interesting to you or what would best convey your own perspective on this complex topic.

The government suggests that Copyright is about striking an appropriate balance between creators and consumers. While we all believe that creators should be fairly compensated, creators have been divided on how to modernize copyright.

For instance, compare the stated views of the Creators Copyright Coalition (CCC) and those of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition (CMCC) or Appropriation Art (AA). While CMCC and AA members are also counted (sometimes more than once) as CCC members for statistics, the views they express are very different.

One area of discussion is the impact of technology. Some creators believe that allowing citizen control over communications technology would be a great benefit, and other creators see this as a threat.

Q. Where do you stand on the benefit or threat of new media/technology?

Tom King: Digital technology has transformed our world in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago. People all over the world have access to ideas, information and each other. This technology has created a virtual public “commons” that needs to be nourished and developed.

From an arts point of view, we see more and more artists taking control of their own outreach, networking and distribution.

But these new technologies also expose artists’ works to mass distribution without compensation. This is not fair. I firmly believe that there is work to do to find ways to remunerate artists for their work in a digital age.

But it doesn’t seem to me that the proposed legislation, C-61, tabled by Conservative Industry Minister Jim Prentice last month, achieves this. No artists are going to benefit by legislation that goes after citizens who break a digital lock so they can watch their DVD on their video I-pod.

Balanced copyright legislation would be able to tell the difference between commercial bootleggers and private citizens who simply want to listen to a CD without being worried whether or not the digital lock will allow it to be played on a car stereo. Jim Prentice missed the mark by a mile.

Russell: One way to reduce the “threat” from new technology is to reduce the ability of individual citizens to control technology. While this may reduce copyright infringement, it also reduces creativity as the tools used to record, edit and distribute and access creativity are the same whether it is used for creativity or infringement.

Locking down devices so that their owners are less able to control them is one of the policies we have seen recently (1995 USA National Information Infrastructure task force, 1996 WIPO treaties, USA DMCA, Canadian Bill C-60 and Bill C-61).

We created a petition to oppose this policy direction http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition/ict/

Q2. Do you believe that the tools which provide the primary means of production and distribution of knowledge should be under the control of private citizens, or some third party? If a third party, who should that party be? If citizens, would you endorse our petition?

Tom King: At the end of the day you can’t make technology illegal. You can’t stop innovation because it threatens a particular business model. If this were the case the monks in the medieval ages would have been able to eradicate the printing press or Hollywood would have been successful in its war against the VHS machine.

The issue with copyright is how these technologies are utilized. I don’t support anyone’s “right” to massively transfer movies or music. But I don’t support trying to stamp out new technologies just because it upsets a traditional corporate business model.

There is a larger philosophical fight that is taking place here. Corporate interests are actually using digital locks to prescribe all kinds of personal use which was never part of copyright in the past. If you buy a book it doesn’t catch fire after five people have read it. Neither should the digital locks being applied on legally purchased content be used to limit your personal use of such works. We have to be wary of attempts to use digital locks to actually radically rewrite Canadian copyright policy.

Russell: One way to make copyright less complex and far less controversial is to have it focus on public activities, and less on activities (such as the creation of personal copies) which modern technology has made private. Private activities such as time, device and format shifting of lawfully acquired content, could be carved out of copyright though a living fair-use regime.

Q3. Would you support or reject the idea of carving out private activities from copyright?

Tom King: If I buy a CD and wish to put it on my iPod, computer and make a copy for the car, that seems to me to be a reasonable or fair use of my legally acquired material.

In terms of protecting artists, I support the blank levy that has been in place for artists. This allows some revenue stream to return to the artistic community. I am very disturbed that Minister Prentice has put aside the issue of the blank levy on new technologies. It seems to me that the government is walking away on a “made in Canada” compromise between personal use and copying which is balanced off against the rights of artists.

Russell: Many people see Copyright in terms of a balance between rights articulated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 17. Property (tangible), 19. Expression , 26. Education, 27. Cultural and Creators' rights.

4. As a human rights activist, how well do you feel we have balanced these rights so far?

Tom King: Copyright is a balancing act. The Canadian government is sliding away from this balancing of public interest and artistic ownership. Instead we seem to be moving towards the U.S. model which provides heavy legislative hammers to be applied by large corporate interests against private citizens. This is not the Canadian way.

5. Is there a specific balance that makes sense to “harmonize” internationally, or is there a right balance for each country, or for each different stage of development?

Tom King: There are many standards for intellectual property that are international. Canada has always followed these norms. But the American model isn’t “international” in any degree. It is a protectionist model that puts the interests of the U.S. corporate sector ahead of national and cultural standards. Canada doesn’t need to be bullied by the U.S. trade lobby. Other countries are moving fo



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