Monday, July 10, 2006

More Margaret Atwood on Copyright

A certain vigilant Easterner has brought Ms. Atwood's latest pronoucements to my attention. Canada’s "Queen of CanLit" and copyright proclamations is at it again. She says in a recent interview in the Halifax Chronicle Herald that:
And don’t forget that copyright is a fairly recent thing, it was brought in the 19th century because people in the States were pirating books written by English writers, and selling them at no profit to the writer or the original publisher, often in a mangled version so writers were losing control of their text, of any income that they might have otherwise had, and publishers were losing out. And once the States also had writers that were being pirated, they got together and made copyright law to protect their markets.
Well – let’s not get too technical. But Ms. Atwood is off by about two centuries and one whole continent. The British Statute of Anne goes back to 1709 – and it’s viewed as the first “modern” copyright law to which today’s copyright statutes trace their legal DNA. The American's didn't get serious about copyright law until 1909 - and even then, they underprotected their own nationals and everyone else until 1976.

This is almost a rich as her comment about copyright exceptions at the 1996 Committee hearings:
If copyrights were cars, this would be car theft.

Can’t wait to see what she’ll come up with next. Between her, Graham Henderson and Captain Copyright, who needs to read ever-so-boring books, cases and legislation?

But in all seriousness, the Committee took her very seriously last time and eviscerated the concept of "exceptions" to a shocking extent. So, her colourful comments have to be taken seriously because the next Committee and the Canadian Heritage bureaucrats may well take them seriously - again.

Which is another reason why it's so important for the next Commmittee to be adequately informed - in either official language - rather than be uninformed because they will only look at written material in both official languages.

HK

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