One of the things I find most interesting about the copyright debate is seeing my position(s) defined for me by others. I read an awful lot of assertions like Degen believes such and such, and he's wrong because...
Recently, I've learned from others that I fully support Bill C-32, that I favour a late 20th Century model of creator’s rights, that I want content locked up against fair dealing, that I support censorship, and so on. Step into this debate and you could spend so much time defending yourself from ridiculous assertions, your actual opinion may never be heard.
Which, I guess, is the point.
So, yesterday I reported about Access Copyright's legal victory at the Federal Court of Appeal, and about their concern that this win for creators could be cancelled out by ill-defined changes to copyright law. I wrote "the introduction of an overly broad exception to copyright for educational use would all but eliminate fair compensation for this established use."
Bill C-32, the federal government's Act to Amend the Copyright Act does indeed contain new educational exceptions, and they are not defined as clearly as many creator groups, Access Copyright and I would prefer. If interpreted in an overly broad manner, they could provide a legal leg-up for the kind of tariff challenge Access Copyright has just finished defending. I am certainly not the only one who thinks this way. Lawyer and publishing consultant, Gary Rodrigues, writes:
"Based on an amended Copyright Act, the Ministers of Education might ask for a review [of] the new tariff before it is fully implemented."
I have mentioned my own concern about overly broad interpetation, informally, to both federal ministers responsible for C-32 (on Twitter!) and have been reasonably assured definitions will tighten up through committee work. I think that would be a great outcome, and I have hope that this recent Court of Appeal ruling will help with the tightening process.
Today, I am informed by the prominent consumer advocate, Michael Geist, that my concerns about an overly broad exception to copyright "bear little relation to reality," and that the recent Court of Appeal ruling proves I'm worrying for nothing. Well... good, then. I hope Dr. Geist advocates strongly for that interpretation at the C-32 committee.
But wait, I'm mistaken -- Dr. Geist actually wrote "fears that the extension of categories will wipe out all revenues bear little relation to reality." I see the problem. When I wrote the introduction of an overly broad exception to copyright for educational use, Dr. Geist read the extension of fair dealing categories.
Of course these two things are NOT the same, nor did I ever mean for them to be. I have called for better definition around fair dealing for a long time (in my copyright consultation submission, for instance), and am happy to talk about category extension - I think parody, for instance, is an important freedom. Yet somehow, I find myself prominently advocating a position I do not hold on this country's central site for consumer-focused copyright discussion. And this... let's call it a misunderstanding... is, I guess, how the copyright debate maintains its momentum.
Meanwhile, three comments into the discussion of my newfound opinion on Dr. Geist's blog, we find this gem:
"I just don't get the need to be compensated for ones work being used to teach kids or others. If I had a school teacher pick up my work and use it to teach kids about the world I'd be more then happy to see my work get used for free. Why the hell could you not want that?"
Clearly, concerns about overly broad exceptions to copyright are completely unfounded. I will stop worrying.