The Rants of Issachar

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A responsive government and a bad opinion piece in the Post.

My e-mail to Senator Fitzpatrick got a response! It doesn't really say anything beyond "thank you for sending us your views on copyright", but it was an actual reply. No response yet from Senators Carney or Jaffer). I'm not expecting to hear back from Stockwell Day or Jim Prentice until at least January of course. Ground letters are a little slower.

I'm not sure what small effect my writing will have, but hopefully some. Certainly I can't leave the representation of my views up to the National Post. Apparently Terence Corcoran thinks I'm a "Telecom Trotskyite". (Well note me personally).

I'm not even sure where I should begin with that editorial. When I was in the debate club in high school, one of the most important thing I learned was that if you couldn’t summarize the opponents point of view so accurately that they said “yes that’s what I think”, then you weren't a good debater. True debate is to summarize your opponents views correctly and then point out why they’re wrong. If you have to misrepresent your opponents then you don't have a case.

To quote from the editorial in a section that claims to represent the views of people like me:
If the iTune you download can only be used on your iPod, that's an assault on your rights.
No. That's not what we think. We think that if a song that you bought can be played on different devices, but that you are legally prevented from playing the song you bought, then that is wrong. See the difference? And what's with calling a song an iTune?

And here's another lovely quote:
Canada has also agreed to international copyright agreements, but has not yet implemented them.
That's a bit rich coming from a man who wrote this on September 16 2006:
News that the Conservatives might be taking a more cautious approach to Kyoto and climate change could not come at a more appropriate time.
Leaving aside the merits of Kyoto and whether or not we should implement it, that's a bit of a contradiction. We not only signed the protocol, we ratified it. We haven't ratified the WIPO treaties he's talking about.

Corcoran also throws in some comments about Net Neutrality, and this little gem.
Industry Canada's recent wireless-spectrum auction regime, which involves a form of nationalization of telephone-cable assets, has its roots in the idea that the people rule.
Nationalization? Does he even know what that word means? I do not think it means, what he thinks it means. (And what does this have to do with copyright?)

What the government did was reserve part of the spectrum for new entrants. This ensured more competition between private companies in the market by preventing incumbents from using their established businesses to prevent new companies from entering the cell phone market. Not even close...

I'm not going to get into the issue of Net Neutrality that he touched on briefly. It's more complex than he suggests and I haven't had dinner yet.

Oh, and is it wrong to include the quotes I put in? Or is it fair use? After all, they're Corcoran's words and the copyright belongs to him. (Or more likely the National Post). Here's what he said on that:
If you want to incorporate part of a television show into your work of art or whatever, you should not have to bother with copyright issues.
He wrote words, and my blog isn't art, but the copyright issue is identical. I'm using his copyrighted words without his permission. I'm not bothering with any copyright issues. Why not? Because it's fair use.

:: posted by issachar, 5:56 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Saturday, December 15, 2007

More on Copyright...

The house is off for Christmas, so the new copyright law won't be introduced until the new year. Michael Geist posted this today, and I thought it was interesting that he picked up on two different things that have happened.

The first one he talks about is how quickly the issue took off from grass roots efforts online. Copyright aside, this is interesting. I think that the rapid communication that we have online and the ease with which we can reference and access sources is really going to help the democratic process. Voter turnout has been falling in recent years and the most commonly cited reason that I have heard is a feeling that your voice isn't being heard anyway. This is going to help change that.

The second thing that Geist talks about is how the copyright debate has changed from the focusing on copyright holders rights to focusing on consumer rights. This is good. The purpose of copyright is to encourage development of culture. To do this we need to balance the rights of content creators with the fair use rights of consumers (and other content creators).

"The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work. This result is neither unfair nor unfortunate. It is the means by which copyright advances the progress of science and art."
-- Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 US 340, 349(1991)

:: posted by issachar, 1:47 PM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How to have a pointless political "discussion"...

I've been following the comments on Michael Geist's blog, and there's an excellent example of what's wrong with a LOT of people's "discussion" of politics.

Geist is a Canadian professor talking about Canadian copyright law. This is of course the perfect forum to... complain about George Bush. Right. Of course it is. The term "Bush derangement syndrome" seems very apt. For starters, the anti-consumer attitude on copyright isn't a Republican stance. It crosses party lines in the US. Ernest Hollings, the man labelled the "Senator for Disney" was a Democrat.

Copyright law aside, (and it was only two comments on that thread that referenced Bush), I keep seeing this accusation against the Conservatives of being "American style" or "Bush-style" cropping up even in mainstream Canadian media. This is not helpful or productive. Issues should be debated on their merits, not on the merits of politicians in other countries. Also, having an idea in common with a foreigner doesn't invalidate that idea, make you responsible for everything they say, or make you some kind of traitor to Canada. Does the fact that Al Gore is an American Democrat make invalidate Stéphane Dion's position on climate change?

Let's have a constructive political discussion for a change and try to limit ourselves to the topic at hand.

:: posted by issachar, 11:26 AM | Permalink | 0 comments | Links to this post

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Canadian Copyright Law

It seems the government will be introducing new copyright legislation this week. Industry Minister Jim Prentice put the new Bill on the Notice Paper on Friday. Obviously I haven't read the bill yet, but from early reports, I have concerns.

The long and the short of it is that early reports say that the legislation will be a Canadian import of the notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act. From Michael Geist's blog:
The new Canadian legislation will likely mirror the DMCA with strong anti-circumvention legislation - far beyond what is needed to comply with the WIPO Internet treaties - and address none of the issues that concern millions of Canadians. The Conservatives promise to eliminate the private copying levy will likely be abandoned. There will be no flexible fair dealing. No parody exception. No time shifting exception. No device shifting exception. No expanded backup provision. Nothing.
What does that mean? On the face of it, it means that you'll continue to pay the "pirate tax" on blank discs even if you're not pirating. There will be no right to copy the music you buy on CD to your iPod. No right to record broadcast TV to watch later, (i.e. record on a digital VCR), no right to backup the stuff you buy to protect against scratched discs. And it will be illegal to write software to do any of these things. And will the legislation protect our right to make the ubiquitous "mixed tape" we all make? I doubt it...

I've written about copyright before, and I still maintain that the right to bypass encryption has got to be protected. Simply put there are legitimate reasons to copy things and bypass encryption.

I hope that that the early reports turn out to be false, but we'll see. I'm writing a letter to my MP and Jim Prentice. I'll see if I get a response. (Svend Robinson's office didn't reply when I wrote to his office about this years ago).

Update: Dec 12
Mr. Prentice hasn't introduced the bill yet. It looks like he won't be doing so until after the Christmas break. Write your letters now!

:: posted by issachar, 3:45 PM | Permalink | 2 comments | Links to this post