Check out this timely and important video message from some of Canada's most passionate (and successful) literary artists:
Once again disproving the myth that professional artists aren't open to new models and new technology, The Writers Union of Canada has turned to YouTube to get out their message about necessary amendments to Bill C-32, Canada's copyright modernization act.
Not surprisingly, the five prominent Canadian writers featured in the video -- Nino Ricci, Erna Paris, Alan Cumyn, Susan Swan and Sandra Campbell -- focus on the reform bill's ill-conceived educational fair-dealing category. This one element of C-32 has proven most worrisome for the professional writing community because of its vague and contentious promise to exempt from licensing much if not all classroom use of copyright-protected materials.
And, of course, writers and their copyright collectives have good reason to be concerned that an educational category of fair dealing would be broadly interpreted as permission for all classroom use. After all, prominent advocates for the education sector have said as much. In fact, many who counsel the education community on copyright have advised that the current fair dealing categories of research and private study should cover most classroom use.
I expect this video to receive immediate and vitriolic criticism from the free culture theorists pushing for a broad educational exception. We've seen already how ugly the attack on professional creation can be. Making much the same point in the Globe & Mail as he does in this video, Nino Ricci was called a liar and a propagandist by prominent free culturists. When the Writers' Union (among other creator groups) expressed these same concerns in a submission to government, Michael Geist accused them of fear-mongering.
Bravo to five brave leaders in Canada's literary community. Knowing full well the free culture agitators will rally a mob to fling insults and shout them down, they nevertheless speak out loudly and confidently for their rights. And bravo to the Writers' Union for producing the video.
UPDATE: As predicted, the nasty comment campaign has begun at the TWUC video's YouTube location. Here are some sample quotes:
"Writers who don't adapt to digital copy realities are destined to end up like movie and music cartels." -- emperorinsaino
"...this just sounds like more propaganda from an industry in decline." --arjenkamphuis
"This video's alarmist rhetoric is totally disconnected from the text of the bill and is a really misguided attack on education." -- corydoctorow
"This video is high on trying to scare people and low on accurate information. Please stop using such propaganda and misinformation... What's more valuable, the education and future of the country, or what's in your pocket?" -- veraciousful
Yes indeed -- you can count on the free culture folks to get the troops out as soon as artists start talking about their rights.