The Canadian copyright reform cauldron bubbled steadily this week, as consumer advocate Michael Geist made predictions about where the federal government intends to go with the file. Here's a couple of headlines from his blog:
PMO Issues The Order: Canadian DMCA Bill Within Six Weeks
Moore's Response: Stop Talking and Wait For My DMCA
Geist's high profile in the debate ensured his blog postings became headline news, and set the comment streams a-flowing on his and other copyright-related blogs and articles. And for anyone who has followed this debate for even a short time, the general tenor of the comment streams was not surprising. Apparently, Hollywood executives and their lobbyists are massing at the border, preparing for a complete takeover of our once proud country.
I pop in and out of these discussions every now and then, but you can only be called a corporate shill or, even worse, a "lawyer" so many times before you give up.
TV writer and Writers Guild of Canada director Denis McGrath has a terrific post on his blog today. In it he makes a direct address to the comment streams, and to the inflammatory rhetoric that begets them. Read the full posting at the link above, and here are some quotes:
"I think that when it comes to something like "fair dealing" it's a finer slice. I think works should be able to be used for comment, parody, satire -- and limited educational use. But you know, agreements were reached on things like copying for school use in textbooks and things - and I see absolutely no reason to think that "it's too hard to police" is a valid argument why wide-open educational use of copyrighted materials should be expected. I also think it's a bit odious that Educational representatives, most of whom have pensions & tenure -- ie: job security, are arguing against a fair compensation regime for people who are essentially self-employed freelancers with none of those economic cushions."
"It seems to me that if you're an "expert on copyright law," with legions of followers with whom you exhibit great influence, then part of your responsibility comes with truly engaging on the creator side of the equation, and figuring out a stand that you can articulate to your followers that doesn't involve content creators assuming all of the risk in the brave new world going forward. It's not enough to demand. You have to engage on a creator-friendly, not just consumer-friendly solution to the problem."