Friday, November 16, 2007

Canada's Stronger Copyright law - a baker's dozen examples

Deirdre McMurdy has an article today on the imminent copyright bill, and the role of American Ambassador Wilkins and some of the other usual suspects.

The Ambassador is quoted as saying that "Canada is known for having the weakest copyright protection in the G8." That is nothing short of ridiculous. Worse, it is simply false and misleading.

First, the G8 includes Russia. Enough said.

Second, Canadian copyright law is MUCH stronger than US law in the following ways:

1. We have neighbouring rights. The USA doesn’t. This translates into very big bucks for record producers and performers.
2. For example, broadcasters already pay far more here than there - with about $50 million p.a. more over and above now being demanded by NRCC for rights that don't even exist in the USA.
3. We pay a fortune to SOCAN for performances in countless bars, restaurants, retail stores and other small business establishments. The USA notoriously exempts these establishments, contrary to a WTO ruling against the USA which the USA continues to flout. The USA is the most famous adjudicated current violator of international copyright law.
4. We have moral rights. The USA doesn’t.
5. Educators pay more here than in the USA. We pay far more proportionally for reprographic rights than in the USA, with far fewer exceptions for educators in our legislation. The US counterpart to Access Copyright has only a little over three times Access’s income - while normal ratios would suggest that it should have ten times the amount. Canadian educators are subject to statutory damages. American ones are not if they reasonably believe that they are engaging in fair use.
6. We have a rich blank media levy scheme that generates currently almost $40 million a year, most of which goes to the USA. The USA has nothing comparable. If CPCC gets its way, which I’m trying to prevent, we’ll have a $75 iPod “tax”, which simply couldn’t happen under US law.
7. We long ago got rid of most of our compulsory licenses, including the mechanical license for sound recordings. The USA has this and many more, which it continues to preach against to other countries.
8. We have 36 copyright collectives. The USA has less than 6.
9. We have major direct and indirect support and subsidies to collectives. The USA wouldn’t dream of it.
10. We have a full time Copyright Board with enormous policy making powers. The US mechanism is far more limited.
11. We have no parody right/exception for users, The USA does.
12. We have no distance educational exceptions. The USA does.

The problem with US copyright propaganda is that the US is a “born again” believer in copyright law, and therefore prone to overly zealous and inaccurate excessive rhetoric. Until 1976, its laws were drastically weaker than any other developed country. It didn’t even join Berne until 1989 and, even now, some question its compliance with Berne, on such issues as moral rights.

It would be very sad if our politicians were to believe the inaccurate propaganda coming mainly from the USA and CRIA. It may also be a costly political mistake to do so.


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