Artists’ coalition wants you to pay up

(cross-posted from my Globe and Mail blog)

As the federal government draws closer to introducing a new copyright law — a proposed update was expected before Christmas but was withdrawn at the last minute, after a vocal protest> involving a Facebook group set up by University of Ottawa law professor and fair copyright advocate Michael Geist, as well as other activity — various groups are jockeying for position.

The latest entry is a formal “platform” statement from the Creators Copyright Coalition, an alliance of 19 professional associations representing writers, musicians, actors and other performers whose work appears in print, on stage, on TV and radio, in movies and in galleries. The document isn’t online at the CCC website (at least as far as I can tell), but there is a copy of the platform here.

From the looks of the copyright coalition’s platform, its vision of the future is one in which everyone pays more in fees, and Internet providers are liable for any copyright infringement that is transmitted over their networks. Among other things (including a request that schools pay a fee to put on plays, something they are currently entitled to do for free), the coalition wants artists to have the explicit right to forbid — or to charge money for — the transfer of their work to another medium.

The CCC’s platform also wants the private copying levy, which adds a charge to the purchase of every blank CD in order to reimburse artists for illegal copying, expanded to include not just music but visual art, video, written content and other forms of art. The coalition recommends that “new tariffs be levied for the new categories.”

Finally, the group says that it would be “only fair” to require Internet service providers or ISPs to “assume the responsibilities” of ensuring that content on their networks doesn’t infringe copyright. The CCC recommends that Canada adopt a notice-and-takedown process similar to that used by the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, making the ISPs liable for infringement.

Note: The federal Privacy Commissioner has some concerns about the copyright legislation as well — in particular, the fact that some digital-rights management or DRM tools used by content companies can record information about people’s behaviour, in breach of privacy protections, as well as the fact that a “notice and notice” process being contemplated as part of the law for ISPs would require those ISPs to retain information about their users, in contravention of privacy laws.


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