Copyright: Bill-C61

by Irma Arkus

The windfall of public reactions to the newly introduced copyright bill amendment has finally hit the newsstands. And there are quite a bit of reactions to the Harper government’s bill as well as to the public relations performance coming directly from Prentice’s cabinet.

If you are an unassuming concerned citizen, and you contacted Prentice’s office, you will get a finely tuned speech on how this is a fine piece of well-balanced bill meant to protect Canadians from evils of piracy.

On the other hand, the Yahoos, Googles, and wealth of performance artists, and consumer advocacy groups are, oddly enough, taking a united stand against the bill. Why?

Why would artists from every walk of life: filmmakers, songwriters, actors, writers…why would they protest this new bill? Why not embrace a piece of legislation that will ultimately help protect your work and result in increased revenues?

The anti-circumvention laws introduced in Bill-C61 are not really meant to do any of above. As anyone who works in creative industry can tell you, it isn’t the artists who earn the bulk of profits from sales, but the corporations behind the distribution. This is not to say that if your CD or DVD is sold by millions, the artists do not see any benefits, but rather that majority of those millions do not line the pockets of the artists in question.

Bill-C61 relies on industry to set its own copyright agenda. If your purchased DVD or CD comes with a non-transferable license, then you are doing something illegal when uploading the contents onto your mobile device (such as an iPod) or storing it on your laptop.

To boot, even if the media in question has the appropriate transfer licences, the idea is that you must hold onto your purchase – you must store the CDs and the DVDs in their original format in order to have proof of ownership of the purchased licenses.

Basically, as a consumer your rights are literally defined by the content owners.

And what benefits do we as Canadians get? Apart from a deluge of court battles, similar to those that took place after Digital Millenium Copyright Act was introduced in US, we potentially get to pay more.

As any Yahoo, or Google will tell you, these laws are in essence anti-competitive, and will hamper growth of new industries that are to arise from current information networks. Proving yet again, that enough money will in fact, buy you a government – in this case, Harper’s government.

The consumer advocacy groups also point to the uneasy fact that Canadians already pay a hefty tax on media meant to cap the loss of earnings on copies made. That, and the fact that we already have Copyright laws.