Monday, September 15, 2008

Required listening for consumers

An almost hour long radio documentary "Who Owns Ideas", hosted by the CBC, it's a great primer for the notion of 'copyfight' and helps understand why this issue is so vitally important in our present and future culture. If you have an hour you can spare, I highly recommend you give it a listen. Especially if you're voting in the Canadian Federal election.

Some highlights:

Original copyright law allowed for works to be protected for 14 years. Now, copyright law extends to the life of the creator of the work.... plus 70 years.

Major commercial players are anti-copyright when their industry is in its fledgling state, 'stealing' anything they can get their hands on. Once they become entrenched and profitable, they are pro-copyright. This is born out by both the entertainment and software industries. It's not about protecting creators, it's about maximizing profits.

Major content producers (like Disney) have profited from the public domain, but refuse to contribute to it, extending the copyright of icons like Mickey Mouse every time its copyright is about to expire.

"We hear all this stuff about how we need to educate kids about copyright, so that they can be on the right side of the law when they use copyrighted works. But the fact is that if you need a formal education in culture in order not to break the law..... there's a problem with the law."

"There have been lots of digital lock schemes for movies and music etc., but nearly all of them can be cracked, so that the material can easily be copied. Newer copyright laws make doing this illegal. These digital locks can prevent legal copying. Fair dealing allows us to study, criticize and comment on copyrighted works, but digital locks prevent this. They put manufacturers in charge - not the law. We have a copyright system that isn't working to prevent illegal copying, but it does prevent legitimate use."

Industry Canada released figures that suggest that the biggest downloaders were in fact some of the music industry's best customers.

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