Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Don’t worry; it’s probably not illegal… very much… we think

(CAUT logo courtesy the CAUT website)

The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), a prominent lobby group in the campaign to remove an effective collective licensing right from Canada’s professional writers and other artists, has published an astonishingly irresponsible document purporting to provide authoritative guidelines to copyright and fair dealing practice within Canadian classrooms.

The CAUT Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Material has little to say about the rights of professional creators to benefit from the use of their works. It doesn’t really mention key details like existing collective licensing arrangements and tariffs that would allow university administrations to acquire affordable, hassle-free access to any amount of any material their teachers wish to use in the classroom.

Indeed, the “guidelines for use” define copyright primarily as a collection of user permissions teachers might be able to depend on to avoid collective licensing or tariff obligations. In other words, the CAUT publication is little more than an instruction booklet on how to help university administrations not pay for content. Here’s all the stuff you can use without permission or payment – use that stuff only please, because, um, it’s your right to do so.

Not surprisingly, the guidelines make direct reference to one Supreme Court of Canada decision (CCH Canadian Limited v. Law Society of Upper Canada) in an attempt to show how broad and flexible the Canadian fair dealing provision can be for educators. They even go so far as to spell out all six parts of the SCC’s “fairness test” found in that highly controversial decision. Should teachers be satisfied in just knowing the six-part fairness test exists? No, according to CAUT:
“It is essential that members of the educational community understand and be able to apply these criteria.”
Yes, teachers and professors, we know you’re very busy imparting knowledge and teaching at the highest professional level, but if you don’t mind we need you to also memorize a Supreme Court decision and be ready at any moment to apply it through a complex six-part legal construct so we can save a few bucks. Oh, and if you get it wrong, we all get sued.

Alright, let’s all get out there and teach!

You’d think if teachers are being asked to play this game of legal roulette, they’d be given some authoritative rules to follow; yet CAUT’s guidelines are full of these vague gems of encouragement:
“Making a single copy of a work is likely to be fair… Making an electronic copy of an optional or supplementary reading is likely to be fair.. etc.”
Likely to be fair? Thanks. I feel “likely” to be not sued.

My own confidential sources deep within the bunkers of post-secondary education tell me of frighteningly militant instructional meetings in which administration representatives direct faculty on how best to avoid the use of collective license and/or tariff materials – essentially downloading the responsibility for not being sued over copyright infringement to the individual classroom level.

Really? This is what we want our teachers to be worrying about and concentrating on while they try to educate the next generation of Canada’s knowledge workers?

That CAUT is even participating in this process of cost- and responsibility-download onto its members shows a depressing absence of leadership within the association. CAUT should be demanding less exposure to potential liability for its members, not happily agreeing to lock them outside in a legal blizzard.

Even worse, CAUT does little to hide its ideological motivation in publishing these guidelines at this exact moment. In one of its many “cautions” to teachers, they explain:
"CAUTION – The CCH decision specifically indicates that copying is more likely to be fair if it conforms to existing custom and practice within an institution or community. Educators currently exercise their fair dealing rights in a robust manner and this document, developed in consultation with the academic community, reflects existing practice."

In other words, CAUT wants teachers to push the boundaries of what is “likely” fair in order to establish these “likely” practices as “existing custom.” There’s probably a legal term for this tactic, and it’s probably not very complimentary. I think the plain language term for it is squatting. I know I’m trespassing on your property, but if I sit here long enough it’ll seem like I belong here.*

The current educational tariff negotiation is, at its core, a labour dispute. On one side, “workers” (Canada’s writers, professional creators and copyright holders) are demanding fair pay for the work they provide for use in the classroom. On the other side, the “bosses” (Canada’s post-secondary educational administrations) are hoping to get a great deal of that work for no cost whatsoever. Ideally, labour disputes are moments for fair-minded and good-faith negotiation. Such a disingenuous campaign of inaccuracy and intentional trespass for the sake of brinkmanship shows no faith at all and lives deep within the territory of unfairness.

Caught in the middle are the teachers and their students, who just want to be able to use professionally created work in the classroom without having to obtain a law degree first. And because the CAUT has clearly been taken over by a small group of free-culture theorists, teachers now have nowhere to turn for help.

I think it’s time for Canada’s teachers and professors to demand better leadership from both their administrations and their professional association. It is absurd and needlessly contentious to encourage educators to push legal boundaries in their classrooms as a test-case for fair dealing expansion. Teachers are being bullied to put their own professional ethics aside. My hope is they recognize the danger to which they’re being exposed in the name of ideology, that they push back at their administrations and regain control over their own association.

If not, who will be showing up to defend a teacher in court the first time s/he gets the six-part fairness test wrong?

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*Ironically, the CAUT’s insistence on an existing culture of robust fair dealing within the classroom is in direct contradiction to the educational lobby’s (which includes CAUT) equally strong insistence that they need a special educational category of fair dealing. During the recent C-32 Copyright Modernization hearings in Ottawa, we saw representative after representative (often the same free-culture bulldog) claiming teachers needed greater freedom of use in the classroom. Well, which is it – is there a custom of free use, or is there a need for it? CAUT clearly wants it both ways.


Crockett said...

Educational budget boards pushing to pay creators as little as possible is as disingenuous as Access copyright's tariff scope overreach.

Two bag men behaving badly.

Learn to work together boys.

John said...


I know you're trying to establish yourself as Mr. Middle Ground in this debate, but you're going to have a hard time finding the actual middle when you start so far over on the free-culture side.

The people who wrote this extremely dishonest and bad-faith CAUT document are the exact same people running a longstanding campaign against Access Copyright and the very idea of fair collective licensing for artists.

When you call Access Copyright - my professional collective - a "bag man," and describe their tariff proposal (a proposal that only became necessary when the CAUT folks encouraged their schools to refuse new licences) as an "overreach" you are complicit in the campaign of dishonesty currently attacking Canada's cultural workers.

The Copyright Board has criticized the educational side in this dispute for refusing to come to the negotiating table, and attempting to avoid a legal responsibility for compensation. This document is more evidence of the same behaviour and attitude.

So, no, this is explicitly NOT a case of two sides behaving badly.

Patricia said...

I think you're reading far too much into this to say that CAUT is encouraging educators to stretch where the " fair dealing" boundary is. They're just describing where it seems to be, based on past and current practice. I don't see any encouragement. As for the need for educators to properly apply the test: well, at most universities the instructor would be the one held liable, not the institution, if there's a breach, and the damages can be quite large for an individual person to pay. CAUT is just trying to help their membership protect themselves legally while effectively doing their job of passing on knowledge (whether in copyrighted form or not).

Patricia said...

Meanwhile, Access Copyright's overreaching proposal would require all university instructors to have all of their files and email spied on, lest they be keeping copies of material from year to year, or sending it to someone else. It's also very strange to have the situation be different between a short snippet used in a research paper and in the same snippet used in an educational lecture.
So if CAUT isn't biased against Access Copyright, it's not for lack of trying on AC's part.

Crockett said...

John, I am not going to play the 'who is the worser' game. To see one side in a debate as faultless, is certainly to some degree a form of denial, and will lead to no resolution.

I understand passions abound, and the rightness of your position seems to you self-evident. In the meantime the floods of dissent are eroding the foundations of your castle.

In the real world the 'middle ground' is where solutions are made. 'It's only a flesh wound' will not keep you from loosing the other arm and leg.

I do not want to see creators unable to earn a living, what use will that be but to impoverish us all?

It is the unwillingness to compromise, from both camps, that will continue this stagnant tussle while Rome burns down around us.

John said...


The encouragement is, in fact, explicit:

"CAUTION – Fair dealing is undermined by over simplification and the declaration of
abstract, bright line rules. Unduly constrained approaches must be rejected ..."

Those unfamiliar with CAUT history of advocating against the rights of artists and our collective might be less sensitive to this language, but the language is there. I checked in with an IP lawyer before writing my posting to make sure I wasn't seeing things in the document that weren't there. My interpretation was confirmed.

On AC, I'll repeat what I said to Crockett - good-faith licences have been in place for years at a ridiculously affordable price to educational institutions. There would have been NO tariff proposal if education, encouraged by CAUT, hadn't walked away from licence renewal.

The interpretation of the tariff as an "overreach" and the fears you cite were both dealt with when the Copyright Board responded to tariff objectors. The response was unequivocal - asking for fair compensation for works that are being used beyond fair dealing is no overreach, and it is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission.

Claims of spying on professor's e-mails and the locking down of quotations are the standard fear-mongering complaints that have no basis in the actual proposal.

Check out the decision, and my comments on it here.

For more on the dangers of the CAUT collusion with academic admin budget makers, see this posting.

CAUT describes one of its responsibilities as assisting their members in collective bargaining. Canada's writers have a long history of standing with educators in their labour disputes. It's disheartening to see a teacher association opposing writers' labour rights in this way.

John said...

Hmmm, just noticed this on the CAUT website:

Average salary of a university teacher in Canada based on 2007-08 stats: $101,670

If I remember the PWAC survey from 2006 correctly, the average earnings for a professional writer in Canada is around $24,000 per year.

Thanks for your support.

Crockett said...

Whoops, it seems technical difficulties have occurred and erased the thoughtful responses listed here from the other day. So to fill up this blank space I will respond to Sandy Crawly & John's challenge to read 'I am not a gadget'.

I am part way through the book and I must say it is very captivating and an insight into the popular creator's world view, with a dose of technological understanding thrown in. I am finding some of my preconceptions challenged and others confirmed. So before I delve any deeper into this wondrousness tome I though it expedient to write my own 'manifesto' first as a baseline and to work from there.

Crockett said...

Manifesto by: David Crockett

Ah spin, gotta love it. Everyone does it to some degree, others attempt to turn it into a fine art, and no one does that quite like the creative sectors. The danger is when it gets out of control.

The first pitfall is self delusion, when you start believing your deceptions to the point that they start to drive your decisions. This then leads to the second pitfall, self destructive behavior. Take for instance the media industry, always a sector for glamour and self promotion, now viewed by many as out of touch and vindictive.

Let's get the bugaboo of 'piracy' out in the open first. The term piracy is in itself a vehicle of spin conjuring up images, somewhat inappropriately, of mayhem, murder and destruction. The actual proper legal term is infringement, which is even in a different category than the other often bandied around term of theft.

Now, not to say that there are not real grievances that the industry has, nor the hard times some people have fallen on due to the selfish & inappropriate actions of others. Personally I believe, if requested, you should pay for what you use, but it is the adversarial response to these difficulties that has worsened their position and the one area I would like most to see changed, to the benefit of all involved. Let's look at some of the half-truths that the industries have put out there, I will use the music sector because, on these issues they have been the most vocal [pun intended].

Crockett said...

First of all, music has always been shared, by its very nature it was meant to do so. Like nothing else it is able to join us together at our deepest levels. My mother-in-law has advanced Alzheimer's disease which started at the tragically early age of 48, she's now 72 and confined to a bed or wheelchair. Over the years we have watched as she has declined in physical and mental capabilities, there is not a lot of response anymore but the one thing that still evokes emotion from her is music. She does not know who we are nor able to say a single word, but put on a old favorite hymn and her face lights up as she hums along.

My point in all this? Music is by nature a shared medium and people will continue to do so regardless of restrictions put upon them. Should this preclude those who create and perform music from compensation for their efforts? By no means! Music will always be created and be with us to some degree just for the love of it, but we are enriched when more is made available and there should be incentive to do so.

Technological change has always had a huge impact on us culturally. From the very beginnings with invention of fire and later farming, leading to the sense of collective community. The printing press and long distance communications then came along and expanded our community to a regional scale. Recently the internet has moved us finally to a global scale, or at least the beginnings of one. The first few advances mentioned above came along at an adjustable pace allowing people and industry to adapt, the latter though has come with such ferocity that it has left many damaged and excluded in its wake.

Crockett said...

It light of this, the vehicles of compensation have hit a bumpy road and possibly should be rethought. Copyright law and practices have served us well to the most degree, and can continue to do so, but as in any rapid change they must be flexible enough to adapt or will snap in the wind. The main reason for the stiffness is the very human tendency to resist change, especially for those who are benefiting most from the current regimens, there is of course much desire for change with those who are disadvantaged. For a real world example lets go back to the music industry. It of course started in its inception with the travelling minstrel and with each technological change has then adapted; group performances, sheet music, recordings and broadcasting. Which brings us into current times ...

The most recent major technology change that greatly benefited the music industry was the CDROM. An innovative medium that was wildly popular with the public for a number of reasons and at a time when income and the economy enabled sales to skyrocket. People were not just buying new music but replacing their old collections by purchasing the same content in this new format. During this time profits went through the roof, the less lucrative sales of singles (remember those nifty 45's?) was put aside with the entrenchment of the album. Both the executives and the performers got used to the good times, although like in most endeavors, it was the ones at the top who benefited most.

Now, to return to my main point, we must fast forward to the turn of the millennium. The internet is coming into its own and the CD Album is starting to lose its momentum and luster due to saturation. The happy days of high profits and dizzying growth are beginning to fade and distribution control, which had been solidified and now in the hands of a few large corporations, was faced with a new competitor that had no central authority to target ... then came along Napster.

Crockett said...

Here, in what will be viewed as an historical moment, a decision had to be made to embrace change or fight against it. Hindsight is a delayed luxury but most will agree that an opportunity to change with the times, rather than be changed by it, was missed. With control quickly slipping out of their hands, and the unauthorized purveyors of their intellectual property essentially out of their reach, the incumbent leaders in the music industry chose to field a campaign against their customer base.

This is where things started to go south. Rather than offering products and services to meet the expectations of a new generation, they decided to sue them for amounts that could be called nothing but bizarre. An 'education' campaign was launched, complete with the amusing Captain Copyright and an embarrassing video rap song. Movies opened with the tagline 'You wouldn't steal a car ... why would you download a movie'? This logical disconnect was often met with derisive laughter and popcorn projectiles at the screen. The end effect of all this, among a significant portion of the population, is a attitude of disrespect and perception of an industry that is fastly becoming irrelevant.

To me this is both a problem and a shame. The traditional entertainment vehicles of music and movies is facing more competition than ever. There are more activities and mediums beckoning for our attention everyday; Facebook, surfing, console games, Farmville, even blogging to name a few. Some say this movement to 'collaborative' entertainment and opinions is leading us to a homogenous future of little creativity, and to this opinion I can agree to some extent. Yet, this is the present and the future we are moving into and thus those who adapt will have the greatest influence and success. Those who try to lobby, legislate and litigate the past will inevitably be regulated to exist there.

John said...


No offense meant, honestly, and with all sympathy to your mother-in-law -- but I'd rather you didn't waste anymore of my personal digital real estate with your manifesto.

If you want to respond directly to Jaron Lanier, please do so on his website.

I have heard enough victim-blaming, sophomoric philosophizing about the powers of art and canned histories of the culture business to last me several lifetimes. I have never and will never be interested in discussing those things.

The focus of my copyright postings is the preservation of the professional practice of art-making through the defense of universally declared individual rights.

Business models, litigation over innovation, the evils of lobbying (except by professors) are really not what I'm interested in or concerned with, because they are all irrelevant details when the removal of indivudal rights are on the table.

So please. Stop writing. I won't read it.

Crockett said...

As you wish John, and to be fair it was rather verbose and for that I apologize, but this post was in response to a challenge by your friend Sandy Crawley, who I hope will have some thoughts on it.

Pieter Hulshoff said...

I read your article John, but most I can conclude is that perhaps we've managed to make copyright way too complex for non-lawyers to understand. You've got to admit that it looks like a legal minefield at the moment.

Sandy Crawley said...

@ Crockett,

Thanks for the beginnings of your response to "You Are Not A Gadget", and I must apologize to John for the flood it released into his digital real estate. In deed it conjures the current behaviour of the Assinaboine river! ;-)

I am not so inured to your survey(more of a flyover from high in the atmosphere) of cultural history as John seems to be, except that you still seem to be suggesting that the foundational principles of copyright cannot withstand the pressure of technological innovation. So, I guess you haven't finished Jaron's book yet. Or perhaps you are convinced that, as John eloquently puts it, individual rights are not worth the effort. Millions of Arabs will be disappointed....

Gruesome said...

"I have heard enough victim-blaming, sophomoric philosophizing"
I've heard enough puerile victim playing to last me a lifetime.
I think Crockett makes some good points.
But to get right to it, Music industry revenue is at an all time high. Only the Recording industry seems to be suffering. Copyright issue or business issue?
Blockbuster, are they victims?, Where was there online presence to battle Netflix and growing online video? Looks like a business problem.
We're almost at an all time low for disposable income and the market is over-saturated with entertainment choice.
I used to have $140 a month cable Bill.
Now down to $40 plus an $8 Netflix account which also caused me to throw out my Blockbuster card.(probably a another $25 a month saved)
I stopped buying DVD's when I couldn't get my hi def TV to play nice with my BluRay player.(Bluray went back to the store)
Sounds like a business problem.
And my in laws, they got mad because they're too old to be updating firmware on a bluray player. Sounds like business problems to me.
Who do they blame? "These new movies are a pain in the but"
Still growing the discontent that consumers have with content and drm. Business problem.
Music is now amazing, I can get the songs I want for $0.69
I'm actually buying more music but spending way less.
Business models are in FACT causing some of their own problems.
While consumers are frustrated, big industry halls out the boogey man to blame it on and cry victim Hoping for tougher copyright controls to charge consumers even more if they try and watch their media on more than one device.
Good luck with that.
While companies like Netflix explode onto the scene.
Incompatible hardware, rootkits etc etc, all due to someones misguided business attempt
Sure there are illegitimate sources for copyrighted material. However I have serious doubts of the impact, especially given the very real market conditions that exist today.
Artists are granted rights under copyright law, they aren't guaranteed a living.
Sorry but if you're selling your art to make money it's a business and you better treat it that way.
I know more than a few who didn't and to no one else's fault but their own they're not in that business anymore.
Victims? At least when they disappear I'll be able to enjoy content from the new businesses without the victim soundtrack in the background.

Gruesome said...

By the way just signed up with
Not sure how well it will work but could substantially reduce my reading expense and was brought on mainly out of frustration of not really owning my digital books.
More victims I guess

John said...


When you're cutting and pasting from the free culture songbook, please try to maintain some sort of typographical consistency. It's hard to read otherwise.

Maybe you could let us all know which of your many statements has anything to do with the fact that all people have the right to benefit from the intellectual property they create by universal declaration of all United Nations countries.

I'm not sure at all why you think this is about your Blockbuster membership.

In fact, this posting is about CAUT giving bad advice to its members. I challenge you all to try and stay on topic.

Gruesome said...

John my post was in response to your post as I quoted.
"All people have the right to benefit from the intellectual property they create by universal declaration of all United Nations countries"
Please point me out where this is written?
Shouldn't the record companies then be obligated to benefit all the artists they sign even if they can't sell their work?
This is the same kind of overly entitled thinking that gets artists into trouble.
You have no right to benefit if you have no market.
You have the right to control, if you can benefit from that, hey fantastic. If you can't, hey unfortunate.
If laws aren't being broken and in the case of your original post I don't think they are , then it just smells of sour grapes.
Take newspapers for instance. I get all the news I need legally online for free, yet we here about this victimization of columnists and even the newspapers themselves.
Yet and I will name names, the Toronto Star phones my house and asks if I'd like the paper free for a month.
First they've just called me even though I have no history with them and I'm on the do not call list.
Second I said NO.
Thats not good enough, I then have to explain why. Give me a break
But wait does it end there...NO!!!
The damn paper ends up on my driveway every morning!
At which point I have to go pick it up and dump it in the recycle.
So I wonder how columnists feel about their work being dumped.
Great Business model is it not!!
NOT !!!!
I create, if I can't sell it, it's my fault.

Gruesome said...

"When you're cutting and pasting from the free culture songbook"

Sorry never read it, but apparently you keep a version by your bedside for weak responses.
This isn't about free culture, it's about consumers as cows and how much milk can be got from them.
This about the abused people who actually enable artists to benefit from the rights granted to them.
If they can't get the milk through enticement then they'll take it by force, ie iPod levies.

If you feel copyright law allows too much ambiguity then lobby to change it.
Certainly the new bill did nothing to solve that problem.

John said...


Really? The Toronto Star calling your house and delivering free papers? That's what this is about?


The one question that seems vaguely on topic, I'll answer. Where is it written? It is written here:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 1948)

(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Crockett said...


No I am not finished Jaron's book, it is a read that should be thoughtfully considered rather than digested all at once. I did point out though that my 'manifesto' was actually a baseline of my current views, it will be interesting to see what changes may occur as I flip the pages.

As for individual rights, they extend past holders of copyrights to all of society, and it is that society that decides what and to whom those rights are ascribed. Copyright certainly has changed over the years to the benefit of some more than others, and there is a school of thought that any new rights are inherently superior and immutable.

While that is true in to a large degree, the reality is its a give and take process that refines itself to society's goals and shifting principles. Power bases change, especially during paradigm shifts like we see today, and some that were advantaged previously may now find themselves on the other side of the fence.

Now before we get all upset about creator's losing their rights, as that is not necessarily what I am suggesting, it should be said that creators might enjoy new rights or 'freedom' from old ones such as penny on the dollar contracts. See the following article to show how the music industry has GROWN as a whole at the expense of the recorded music label profits.

I am not against artists creating & flourishing, I'm against static power bases that impede that from happening to protect shareholder profit reports.

Darryl said...

So true John, though it should not be mentioned without the preceeding sentence, so that it may be understood in the correct context.

(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

I've never liked moral interest, as they tend too often to interfere with other peoples material interests. Interesting how this declaration does not address how to resolve when various articles come into conflict.

sandy crawley said...


Yes, I read the Winsome piece in the Globe and I completely agree with the fact that business practice has to change to match realities. But the subject here today, and often, is copyright law. I work towards changes in contracting practices every day on behalf of freelance writers. But the basis for their compensation is still founded in copyright law and regulation.

John said...


Will you ever understand that the two paragraphs in article 27 are not competing? No, you probably never will, because you don't want to. That simple fact does not fit your ideology.

There is NO conflict. Both paragraphs refer to "everyone." It is an impossibility for everyone to have two conflicting rights. Conflict requires separate groups.

You keep trying to zing me on the declaration. It's not MY declaration, Darryl. It's the Universal Declaration.

Crockett -- please, the Globe article is just more of the same lazy justification for excusing bad behavior, written by yet another well-financed academic with no real-world understanding of professional creation.

Changing practice and models do not excuse legal trespass and theft. To suggest they do is exactly the kind of moral relativism the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is designed to counter.

Crockett said...

@Sandy "But the basis for their compensation is still founded in copyright law and regulation."

I applaud your efforts to get better contracts and terms for creators as I see this as one area that they have been severely disadvantaged in.

In regards to current copyright law and regulation the current some of the rules on the books, and especially the tightening agenda being pushed from Washington, is actually causing further disadvantage to creators.

Here's my hypothesis: As the perception of tougher and more restrictive legislation rolls out people are becoming more and more accustomed to ignoring what they see as unfair and self-serving practices of big media.

This in turn leads to a further erosion of respect for copyright and a dilution of conscience on getting media from illegitimate sources.

Big media has lost control as the main source of distribution due to technological change. Their tactics to try and regain it has led to a 'war' that they cannot win. Right or wrong, there will always be a way around the firewall.

In the meantime it is the creator, that is often tied by contracts and habit to the labels, that bears the brunt of their missteps.

The tide must be turned on the public perception of the media industry .. I suggest Kool-aid over vinegar.

Crockett said...


I have never thought that theft should be condoned. I am saying that the increasing restrictions on media is what is leading to the theft and that those restrictions should be rethought to help decrease it.

We may disagree on this point, tighter control or less, but I think we agree that the current state of affairs is not working.

My vision is not to see consumers get more for nothing, but to see creators get more for something.

John said...


Re; your hyposthesis, please see my previous comment about moral relativism.

I reserve the right NOT to drink your Kool-Aid. I've seen the effects it has.

John said...


Take this bit of language:

"... the increasing restrictions on media is what is leading to the theft"

Replace "restrictions on media" with "suggestiveness of clothing," then replace "theft," with "sexual assault."

Now do you see how offensive that thinking is to a working artist?

It's no-one's business lecturing me about why I'm being robbed and how the robbery might be my own fault. Just stop the robbery.

I appreciate, at least, that you seem to be admitting that copyright infirngement is a form of theft.

Gruesome said...

(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

"the fact that all people have the right to benefit from the intellectual property they create by universal declaration of all United Nations countries."

John you have a a background in literacy and you don't understand the difference between these 2 statements

There is a huge difference between protection of interests and a right to benefit from.

Surely you see that

I fully support the right to protect interests, however there is no implied right to benefit from that work.

As for the Star it's just another example of the never ending not just bad but idiotic business practices we've been seeing over the last 5 to 10 years.

I, my family and my friends have all been been frustrated by almost all of the major media companies we deal with.

Whether we like it or not this is reflected on creators and personally I hate it.
What I find especially egregious is those not standing up for the people that enable them to enjoy the profession they've chosen. I've been in retail and various other client focused business for 25 years and I can't say I've ever seen any other industry with such little regard and maybe even contempt for those willing to pay for their service....maybe insurance companies but it's getting close.

Gruesome said...

John really, these arguments..

Replace "restrictions on media" with "prohibition on alcohol" then replace "theft," with "illegal consumption"

Now do you see how offensive that thinking is to a working artist?

Copyright infringement is infringement, apple meet apple

My replace is more valid than yours since what is being considered here is reasonableness of law. I'm sure some of the pro prohibitionists who linked drinking to husbands spending the family savings on booze felt just as strongly.
But if a law isn't reasonable than it will not be respected. And it has to be reasonable to more than just the creator.

John said...


Honestly, I have no idea what you're talking about in either comment.

My "background in literacy" includes the ability to understand nuance. When I say "benefit," I do not mean you have to pay me even if you don't want to. I mean, if I put a price on my creative work and you want it, either you pay the price or you don't get my work. That is a material interest, and according to the Declaration I have a right to its protection.

You see difference where there is none.

Your prohibition reference makes no sense whatsoever. I'm talking about victim-blaming, not law-blaming.

Please try to keep up.

John said...

Finally, Gruesome, if I have an exclusive right, and you assume that right for yourself (which is excatly what happens in copyright infringement), then you have stolen the exclusivity from my right. And that makes you a thief.

I have all my apples in a row.

Gruesome said...

I think I'm keeping up just fine John, it's always fun to find nuance in an argument.
John you stated "people have the right to benefit from the intellectual property they create by universal declaration"
So the the right to "benefit", because a benefit has to have some kind of value.
And the benefit is the "the right to the protection of the moral and material interests"

So they have the right to "the right to the protection of the moral and material interests"

interesting....kinda falls apart somewhere

Gruesome said...

I have all my apples in a row.
Ya I think they're all on your head...
Whether you're a victim or not is irrelevant, if a law is broken there is always a victim. An individual or society as a whole. If a law becomes unreasonable to society as a whole then the law becomes irrelevant.

John said...


Where it falls apart, I'm afraid, is in your head.

There's no point in my trying to explain it further as you seem determined, in Darrylesque fashion, to not understand.

Not understanding, I imagine, is recognized somewhere as your right. Enjoy it.

Gruesome said...

"Finally, Gruesome, if I have an exclusive right, and you assume that right for yourself (which is excatly what happens in copyright infringement), then you have stolen the exclusivity from my right. And that makes you a thief."

Yikes where to begin,
So I've assumed your exclusive right....hmmm. If I've done that then it would seem your out of luck because you don't have it anymore. As a matter of fact not that I have your exclusive right if you please refrain from making any copies.

You have a Right to exclusivity, if I infringe that right(or exercised it), you still have it. I can not take that right away from you which allows you to take action against me for infringing your rights to begin with.
To put it another way, if you shoot me.... You've taken away my right to life, I no longer have that right. If I copy your work, the work is still yours the right is still yours, while I have infringed your rights I have no rights of my own.
This is the difference between infringement and theft.
If infringement were theft than copying your work would be exactly the same as stealing the original so that you could make no more copies.
In that case I would be thief since now I have truly removed your rights to the work.
I know you feel it's theft, however no court has ever determined it to be that.
Lord knows your feelings are well documented on this blog, I enjoy the way you bare your feelings on these issues.

Crockett said...


I applaud your ability to dwell in a perfect ordered world, what color is the sky by the way?

I will take your strangely colorful example and proceed further ...

Let's accept that a person (male or female) has the 'right' to dress as they choose, I agree absolutely. Now would you advise that person go alone, wearing barley a stitch into a dark alley, at night on the roughest side of town?

Is that not their right? Of course it is! But is it smart?

This is what the media industry is doing to themselves. Saying intelligent things like, "If you don't like my terms, then don't buy it". Then crying when profits fall 66% in half a decade. Should people be taking it instead? No! But that indignation is not putting food on your table.

No ... no thought to adjusting those terms, to change to fit the expectations of your customers, we'd rather be poor than accommodating thank you very much.

Where's that forest ... get those damn trees out of the way 0_o

Gruesome said...

I'm sure I could understand if you could write it correctly, language does matter, nuance aside.
Sure you don't want to give it another shot?
Perhaps there's a benefit I'm not getting that I'm entitled to.
Maybe I'm getting it, If I have a right to Benefit or somehow attain value then I should be able to benefit from my benefit.
Wait this isn't double dipping is it?

Gruesome said...

"Where's that forest ... get those damn trees out of the way 0_o"
It's not trees , it's the righteous indignation of copyright extremism.
Hard to see through those specs.

Gruesome said...

John maybe we can find something to agree on. I often find these arguments degenerating into these "why don't you understand"
We can both agree with what's written
"Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author."
I think we both agree this is the sum total of the benefit a creator can expect, protection for his work.
No need to interpret, it's simply stated
Beyond that whether he can profit from said work relies on many factors.
The quality of the work
The market for the work
The delivery method of the work
and much more

Infringement, how big of a factor is it?
This is where we probably disagree

I suggest it's inconsequential and becoming more so everyday.
Why would I say that?
Well look at the vast array and wealth of material available.
Torrent traffic has been steadily retreating and the Netflix is now #1 in traffic followed by browsing.
It really is astounding.
It suggests a robust and healthy market for creative goods.
Also I always like to pull out the Uwe Boll argument
I have to be careful apparently he may be suing people for saying he's a lousy director, so I won't say it.
John I know your tastes are above these movies, my point is simple, how can any industry be suffering when this guy can have a career as a director.
John if this is the benchmark we should be making movies.
We're missing out.
My point being that there's also a wealth of bad content that seems to sell also, how bad can the market be?
OK I know what you're going to say, hey I'm with you, this doesn't make infringement OK. Even if these were the most profitable and healthy businesses in the world infringement is not OK.

So here's where we get to the part I think Crokett and a number of people have been trying to convey to you and others of the pro maximum copyright group.
Stronger copyright may well be a Pyrrhic victory.
Welcome to having full control and less money.
In my opinion the people of Canada were ignored in the copyright town halls, but they can't be ignored when it comes time to open up their wallets.
There are fewer victims here than there are bad business decisions.

Darryl said...

"There is NO conflict. Both paragraphs refer to "everyone." It is an impossibility for everyone to have two conflicting rights. Conflict requires separate groups."

That's right John, because we know creators are users are always the exact same people, Just like employers and employees; merchants and customers; governments and citizens; tenants and landlords; black and white. There are all the same.

Do you ever actually listen to yourself?

John said...

Guys, I spend a lot of time responding to comments on this blog because I believe in not stifling discussion, but I have limits. The limit tonight is that the discussion has to have some foothold in logic, good faith and understanding of the vocabulary.

Better yet, let me quote one of my favorite writers (a professional creator):

"There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity...You can smell it. It smells like death."

I'm choosing life over your mendacity gentlemen. You can go elsewhere if you like and continue to argue over the meaning of "benefit," "everyone," "exclusive" and "theft" all you want. I'm sure you'll change the world.

Darryl said...

"I'm choosing life over your mendacity gentlemen. You can go elsewhere if you like and continue to argue over the meaning of "benefit," "everyone," "exclusive" and "theft" all you want. I'm sure you'll change the world."

Heh, thanks John, but mendacity is in the eye of the beholder is it not? And your words are about as mendacious as they come.

The world is already changing. Personally, I expect I will continue to benefit from from changes despite the best efforts from the legacy crowd, no matter what. Professionally, not so much, if DRM becomes legally protected and fair use/dealings dies.

Gruesome said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gruesome said...

A better quote would be "I don't want realism I want magic" John's Truth

Gruesome said...

@Darryl "I will continue to benefit from from changes"
Meaning some kind of value or payment right? I'm still trying to figure out John's use of benefit, some nebulous definition I have yet been able to determine.
I'm sure it wasn't mendacious

Crockett said...

John, honestly my desire is not to exasperate you, I'm sorry you had to end your day that way. I simply want the creators you mentioned, that seem to be offended so much of the time (your graphic example was quite telling), to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Sure, people are taking stuff for free that they should have paid for, it ticks you off, I get it and rightly so. It is justifiable to want to punish those people, fine them, throw them in jail, maybe even a big kick the hiney. The powers that be are free to continue down that path but the downside is that a number of those people are your former or prospective customers.

Now lets for the moment try to take the emotion out of the equation, move past it and look for a workable way to improve the situation.

To do so lets look at some likelihoods.

- Infringement has always existed and it is never going to completely go away.
- Infringement happens for two main reasons; greed and anger.
- The greed incentive is not really addressable, greedy people do not care.
- The angry people feel, much like creators, that they are being taken advantage of.
- Talk of more restrictive copyright, combating fair use, large fines and internet disconnections will make people angrier.
- The angry people can be reached by addressing the issues that make them angry.
- People that are no longer angry will become paying customers.

If your goal is to stand on extreme principle then so be it. Conversely, if you would prefer to increase the well being and bottom line of creators then working through these points could be beneficial.

Nothing I have said here is mendacious or meant to be mean spirited, rather it's a reflection of the real world.

Crockett said...

I should also have added these points to the list:

- While resistance to infringement is not futile, the battle will continue to give diminishing returns. Those who practice it are of a great enough number that collectively they will always be a step or two ahead in the technological war.

- The war to combat infringement is creating more collateral damage than benefits.

- Infringement will naturally decrease as products and services come more into line with expectations ... Netflix is the perfect example.

Crockett said...

Netflix Passes Piracy in Net Traffic %

Darryl said...

@Darryl "I will continue to benefit from from changes"

@Gruesome "Meaning some kind of value or payment right? "

No. Meaning being able to enjoy watching videos when and how I want. Meaning being able to listen to music and radio programs when and how I want. Meaning being able to run software on all my devices when and how I want.

I really would pay for services that gave me the sort of convenience, selection, and freedom I expect in this day and age. Until John's friends get around to providing it, I'm happy to find my own way facimilate it. THAT is my benefit, and their unfortunate loss.

Gruesome said...

@Darryl I was just poking fun at john's comment "All people have the right to benefit from the intellectual property they create by universal declaration of all United Nations countries"
You use the term correctly while...

IamME said...

I missed this on too bad.

I just went and dug the COUT guidelines out of my e-mail and read them. Other than presenting definitions and describing, in depth, the processes involved so teachers and academics are more aware of the situation, I saw nothing offensive or inflammatory. In fact they specifically state:

"CAUTION – The university and college community should guard against systematic, cumulative copying from the same work. Fair dealing is not a substitute for the purchase of learning materials."

It couldn't be that universities are simply trying to save money? And why not...they are a business after all. Or that perhaps AC is expecting too much? For example, I understand that at the UofA the decision to walk away from AC was not an easy one but the new tariff would add over a million dollars to it's operating budget. In tight fiscal times, when the government is being stingy with grants for post-secondary, $1,000,000 is a hefty price tag no matter where you are.

Here's one of your favorite quotes, you've used on me a number of times, "...but as long as they don't break the law...".


RE: Crockett's posting...
"Netflix Passes Piracy in Net Traffic %"

So are onerous laws or alternate services such as Netflix, Hulu and Pandora responsible for reduced piracy? I'd bet alternate service do far more to help than trying to strangle freedoms with onerous laws.

Gruesome said...

@IamMe, could't agree more, CAUT represents educators, that's it's purpose. Like any business lines of legality are drawn and need to be understood. For example a business needs to completely understand tax law(only slightly less complicated than copyright law and less ambiguous) in order to achieve it's goal of maximizing profits.
As the saying goes "Don't blame the player...

Anonymous said...


"Replace "restrictions on media" with "suggestiveness of clothing," then replace "theft," with "sexual assault."

Now do you see how offensive that thinking is to a working artist?"

Um... if that is your actual viewpoint then every time you see your book being illegally copied you experience rape, John?

If this is the case then you need to seek help from a therapist, if you aren't already. Living under the trauma of rape without professional help is not healthy.