Wednesday, January 05, 2011

new year - old topic

(image courtesy Quill & Quire)

In the latest issue of Quill & Quire, Canada's Magazine of Book News and Reviews, I have a guest opinion piece about the increasing ugliness of the copyright debate as Bill C-32 makes its way through committee.

I don't think the article is online, so anyone interested should pick up a copy of Quill & Quire at their local newsstand. And here's a teaser:

"Free culture as a theory has brought many wonderful ideas to the table. It has reminded us all of the rich and bountiful public domain. Creative Commons licensing has advanced the idea that copyright can permit as forcefully as it restricts. These are genuinely good things.

Less good for writers and publishers is the pressure to view permission as the right of the user rather than a privilege. Lately, any attempt by professional creators or rightsholders to control certain kinds of access is cast as a corporate lockdown of culture, and reasonable requests for compensation are shouted down as elitism and greed. The very idea of educational collective licensing is suddenly under attack. How dare writers and publishers expect to be paid just because a poor student reads their work for class? How dare we expect teachers and professors to actually track the use of content in their courses? How dare we set our own prices?

Happy 2011 to everyone.


Quill & Quire receives grant support from a periodicals advisory panel administered through my office. The opinions expressed in the article are my own and do not reflect OAC policy. I did not pitch Quill & Quire, and was not paid to write the article.


Sandy Crawley said...

Great teaser!

Crockett said...

Sounds like an interesting read John, not sure if that magazine makes it's this far out in the country but I'll watch for it.

I hope you had a nice break over the holidays :-)

Crockett said...

I have yet to find and read your full article John, but to speak of the other side of the coin I refer you to:

& further:

What amazes me most is not this behavior from the labels, but their ability to pull the wool over the eyes of a majority of the very people they have been ripping off. How many op-ed pieces do we see daily extolling how the **AAs are fighting for the artist's fame, fortunes and creative endeavorers?

My main thrust of blogging the past few years has not been to promote the 'free culture' that is often (falsely) characterized as being all about stealing from creators, but rather that creators have other choices to both increase their due and also to repair and enhance their relationship with their fans/customers.

I know, I'm a dreamer. Sue me ;)

crockett said...

A further link on the topic:

Crockett said...

And just for fun John (sorry I just couldn't resist), I think a a small but hearty thank you from Canadian Artists is due to Professor Geist: - "Canadian law prof Michael Geist, who was instrumental in publicizing the case in Canada, said that the labels had little incentive to track down those to whom they owed money but that "the class action lawsuit clearly got their attention."

$45 MILLION of it!

Crockett said...

On a less tongue in cheek note, here is some research on the benefits of removing DRM from books with the result being increased sales.

I know John that your position is that the creator should have the choice to require DRM or not, I'm just pointing out the possible benefits to both the creator and consumer to go au naturel.'Reilly+Radar)&utm_content=Google+Reader

John said...


Being busy, I can't respond in detail, but I can say I'm confused why you think a strong copyright advocate like myself would be upset about artists winning a copyright class action.

The organization I ran for years, PWAC, was a primary financial supporter of the Heather Robertson class action which recently settled for $11 million.

And yet I still think the Globe & Mail deserves to have its copyright protected, and I regularly enjoy the company of Barry Sookman, who represented Thompson against Ms. Robertson.

What a crazy world.

Crockett said...


I am as excited as you are. I was pointing out the fact that it takes a class action lawsuit for the content industry to pay artists their fair due. And the Hypocrisy of such action in light of their actions against the consumer.

What a crazy world for sure!