My last posting (see below, or click here) took exception with the sensationalist and fear-mongering aspects of the campaign against established creator rights under copyright. I linked to a video from the Vancouver Film School depicting copyright protection as a revolver aimed directly at consumers -- a.k.a. YOU... watch out!
And here we go again... the Canadian Federation of Students has released the following short bit of agitprop against professional creators. Sure professional creators were once students, like the freedom loving line drawings depicted against a soft green background as the film opens, but it seems once they graduate and go on to try and build their careers, they disappear into the evil rust-coloured background stained by the "major multi-national publishers, music labels and other corporations," who greedily suck up copyrighted works in order to, um, fill their buildings with greenness? I suppose that means something.
(embed code courtesy the CFS)
These rhetorical bombardments are beyond tiresome; and what's worse, they're intentionally deceptive, and designed to create what Google lawyer William Patry has labeled the "moral panics [of] the copyright wars." You will often find Patry's panics cited as an attack against "big content" -- those nasty corporations again and their lobbyists who are, apparently, "in Ottawa right now!" But when Patry spoke in Toronto some months back, I asked him if the panic-merchants in the copyright wars exist only on the corporate side, since I see an awful lot of inflammatory, end-of-days kind of stuff, like the CFS video, coming from the copyleft. "A pox on both their houses," was his unequivocal answer to me (freely quoting Shakespeare from the public domain).
Is it possible only "big content" learned anything about reasoned debate from Patry's book? I mean, he does work for Google, and if there's a bigger corporate interest in copyright right now than the all-knowing, all-seeing Goog, I don't know what it is.
I make special note of this video mainly because it is so very disappointing to me. I have sat in meetings with representatives of the CFS, and discussed the subtlety and intricacies of copyright reform. I see on their website a much more subtle and reasonable argument for the student perspective in the debates. While I can often agree to disagree with some of the specifics of the student position, I value their voice in the reform process. This video is a lot of things, but subtle and valuable to the reform process are not two of those things.
What's wrong with the video? A distinct lack of factual truth, to begin with. Did corporate interests really help create Bill C-61? I thought the duly elected Canadian government created C-61, like it creates all federal legislation. Did students and 90,000 other mobilized Canadians really help "defeat" Bill C-61 before it even came to a vote? I thought Bill C-61 died on the order paper because of an election call. Just what kind of history are members of the CFS learning in Canadian universities, and who is teaching it to them?
You know, I was a student myself once, for a rather long time. I was a student when I first sold some of my writing, and when I first published other writers' writing. I knew the value of copyright to creators then, and nothing about my career since has convinced me that weakening my copyrights would be a particularly smart thing to do. It's a funny thing about students -- eventually, they graduate and have to make their way out into the real economy. Often, recently-graduated creators find themselves having to negotiate career-affecting agreements having to do with copyright -- and just as often those agreements are with multi-national publishers, etc., etc.
I'm sure in a few years time, after graduation, this video from the CFS and those who inspired it will be effusively thanked by an entire generation of creators for schooling them in the realities of a creative profession outside the ivory tower.