Copyright reform: the only thing more depressing than another election -

Copyright reform: the only thing more depressing than another election

What do we even want out of it anymore?


Hug a political reporter today, they could use it.

With little joy or passion, newsrooms are gearing up to dutifully cover every aspect of an election that nobody really wants. For journalists, the coming weeks will bring nothing but grind, a decaying echo of something that once seemed important, exciting, even fun. Twitter is filled with their tears, the poor babies.

Do I seem glib? I am glib! Glib and glum. I have no pity for those who cover politics, because I’m too busy pitying myself. I cover copyright. And that means I’m stuck on “repeat” for years, not weeks.

When Parliament dissolves, so too will bill C-32, the third attempt at copyright reform in six years. It’s a flawed bill with one killer feature—it’s passable. Nobody would have been happy, but everybody could have gone home.

Instead, we will have to start all over again. Whichever party forms a government will inherit the curse of Canadian copyright. Government ministers will be doomed to endure the relentless lobbying efforts of legacy media on the one side and the incessant outrage of geeks like me on the other. They will have to pretend to respect us, pretend to care what any of us have to say, and pretend that a happy balance between these rival interests can indeed be reached. More than anything, they will have to pay lip service to the idea that new copyright legislation actually matters to Canadians—that it will get creators paid and criminals punished. It will not.

Stephen Harper knew what he wanted out of copyright reform: to get the U.S. off his back. But I’m losing sight of what anyone else has to gain.


Copyright reform: the only thing more depressing than another election

  1. a) Lots of people are thrilled about an election, including the political reporters who've been clamouring for one all along.

    b) Copyright is a global issue, and can only be dealt with…with any effectiveness….at that level. It will remain a huge issue everywhere for some years because of that problem.

    • LOL no, not scientific, but many people are breathing a sigh of relief today as that online poll shows

  2. "to get the U.S. off his back" – you have that right. They even sent us an Ambassador who specializes in copyright law!!!

    Once Canada got on their "list", in the same company as China, the writing was on the wall. Wonder what Michael Geist will have to say?

  3. Don't parrot a talking point/cliche without scare quotes, eg 'nobody really wants'.
    I want this. All of the opposition parties want this.

    • Good for you Wayne. I'm also pleased that government action on copyright has once again been swallowed into the ether. Better to be in limbo that to pass something that does not serve the interests of ALL Canadians. I'm sure there are plenty of Canadians that are quite jovial knowing that American lobbyists are pissed…

  4. I call it "glub".

  5. On behalf of the Pirate Party, the death of C-32 and its' predecessors has been a welcome thing. No one should have to settle for mediocre legislation, especially in the realm of copyright. As it stands, the balance has yet to be reached. Keep trying.

    • Shouldn't you be gearing up for the elections? What be the plans matey?

  6. Has there been any reaction from American lobbyists with regards to the fizzle on Copyright?
    Perhaps they can dedicate a specific colour alert for the naughtiness that is taking place in the 51st state.
    Weapons of Mass intellectual Property Destruction?

  7. Why do we need the reform anyway?

    • I believe the current legislation has some direct ties to technologies which are no longer in significant use, and it's application to technologies of today (torrents, streaming etc) is tenuous and difficult.

      Ideally, the legislation would be reformed containing no references to any sort of information distribution mechanism at those are going to continue to change, but instead would focus directly on content, and balancing how society requires public domain information to really progress, and how creators can be assured compensation in order to encourage creation.

      Personally, I like a system of copyright fees being some variant of the number of years the content has already been protected by copyright, squared, times a constant dollar value, like $10. Require copyright renewal every 10 years or so, and I think the problem should balance itself out. To hold on to copyright for long periods of time requires increasing investment by the company involved. They can then make the decision of whether with-holding their content from full public use is worth it.

    • We "need" it mostly because the USA is constantly breathing down our necks to get it done.
      Personally, I think it is bad idea to give the corporate powers even more ways to ding both artists and consumers.
      As technology expands, there is less and less need for traditional middle men powers who want their chunk of flesh.
      The world is changing – let's trim the fat already….

  8. Nobody would have been happy, but everybody could have gone home.

    Perhaps. But in the case of the incumbent copyright lobby, they would have merely gone home to figure out new ways (or recycle old ways) to start arguing in 2012 that the Copyright Act of 2011 was hopelessly out of date, stuck in the 19th century, inconsistent with international obligations, blah blah blah.

    Same old crap that the copyright lobby has been on about since the 1970s. It will never end until copyright is perpetual, fair use is abolished, and infringement is a hangin' offense.