Copyright and media policy
Please note that you may also be interested in my French-language blog called “culturelibre.ca“
This morning, I had the great honor of leading an undergraduate communications studies class lecture and discussion around the topic of “copyright” within the context of media policy. I recorded my session with a wrist-bound smartwatch, here are the two resulting audio files:
Part one: 8:45am to 9:45
Part two: 10am to 11
The last 30 minutes was devoted to open classroom conversation and I did not record this part.
The students were asked to read Sara Bannerman’s excellent article titled “Canadian Copyright: History, Change, and Potential” published in the Canadian Journal of Communication in 2011 (Vol 36 (2011) 31-49). This article presents the history of copyright media policy in Canada starting in the mid-19th century. Back then, the United-States produced unauthorized copies of published British books to support their burgeoning publishing sector.
These american copies were finding their way to the Canadian market, squeezing out opportunities for local entities to flourish and pricing authorized British copies out of the market. Bannerman doesn’t quite get into this in her article, you really have to read her excellent book at UBC Press (The struggle for Canadian copyright : imperialism to internationalism, 1842-1971). Nonetheless, I tried to position the copyright rules presented by Bannerman in the late 19th and early 20th century to some contemporary issues faced by Internet users.
Specifically, I explained that Bannerman is presenting Canada as a “middle power” (p. 31) state engaged in negotiating a multinational trade instrument. In the 19th century, Canada was still a colony, under the aegis of the British but also had to deal with the situation in the United States.
Bannerman states (p. 36),
The United States, in 1891, took measures to recognize international copyright on strictly limited terms. Instead of adopting the Berne Convention, the United States granted copyright to foreign nationals on a bilateral basis, on the condition that works be registered and printed in the United States (Boyde & Lofquist, 1991-92; United States, 1891). In this way, the United States adopted a bilateral and protectionist international copyright policy, while Canada was bound to the Berne Convention, which disallowed the types of industry protections built in to the American law.
Canada shifted its position, as exemplified during the 1910 Imperial Copyright Conference.
At the conference, whose proceedings were kept secret, the Canadian representative secured a commitment that the imperial government would negotiate, for Canada, terms that took the form of a protocol to the Berne Convention in 1914 (Protocole additionnel, 1914). This protocol eased Canadian concerns and paved the way for Canada to adhere to the Convention. Under the 1896 revision of the Berne Convention, authors from non-Union countries such as the United States could obtain copyright throughout the Berne Union by publishing their works first in a Berne country (such as Canada). This gave non-Union countries “back door” access to the rights granted by the Berne Convention without requiring said countries to join the Berne Convention. Berne Union authors (including Canadians) did not receive reciprocal protection from the United States; they faced stringent domestic manufacture provisions before they were eligible to receive copyright protection in that country (Berne Convention, 1896, Article 1, Item II; Berne Convention, 1908, Article 6). The 1914 protocol, however, allowed a country of the Union to restrict protection granted to the works of non-Union authors whose government failed to protect in an adequate manner the works of authors of the Union (Protocole additionnel, 1914). This gave Canada the flexibility of recognizing American copyright on a more reciprocal basis, a key requirement for Canadian adhesion.
During the interwar years, which were characterized by optimism about international institutions’ potential to bring about justice and peace, the Berne Convention represented for Canada a powerful international community and a forum for the expression of Canada’s newfound international personality (Hillmer & Granatstein, 2005). Canadian leaders felt that a failure to join in that Union would make Canada “an outlaw among the copyright nations of the world” (O’Hara, 1919), an “outsider in the general community of nations” (Canada, House of Commons, 1921, p. 3833), and a “non-harmonious and non-musical instrument” (Canada, House of Commons, 1931, p. 2309) within the concert of nations.
(Bannerman, p. 37)
But, again, Canada’s position shifted a few decades later.
A 1957 Royal Commission on Patents, Copyright, Trade Marks and Industrial Designs concluded that the Berne Convention represented a European approach to copyright, granting high levels of copyright and placing the rights of authors above the interests of users, consumers, and the public. The commission suggested that a more American approach—with a utilitarian view of copyright that understood copyright as serving the public interest above the interests of authors—might be more suitable to Canada as a net copyright importer— a nation of copyright consumers more than a nation of copyright exporters. (Bannerman, p, 37)
It seems that Canada is still flip-flopping:
Under CETA it appears, according to leaked documents, that the European Union is pushing for Canada to adopt a longer term of copyright protection (70 years rather than 50 years after the death of the author for standard works and other term extensions in other areas), a new resale right for art, a new distribution right, new rights for broadcasters, including a fixation right and a retransmission right, and the extension of reproduction rights to performers and broadcasters (Canada-EU, 2010). (Bannerman, p.40)
The result of this for Canadians today is the possible erosion of Canadian copyright sovereignty, the possible Americanization of Canadian copyright law via American-style digital locks provisions—without the extensive fair use safeguards of the American system, the potential unbalancing of rights and rewards, and the further unbalancing of international flows. (Bannerman, p. 43)
(For the record, these are the passages I cite in my lecture.)
Finally, here are some sources I suggest for further reading:
- I discuss an article which attemps to measure the « optimal » lenght of copyright’s duration. It is this one: Landes, William M. and Posner, Richard A., Indefinitely Renewable Copyright (August 1, 2002). U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 154. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=319321 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.319321 (it was published in the University of Chicago Law Review in 2003).
- I presented on the screen a few pages of a graphic novel called Tales from the public domain: Bound by Law as well as the NFB documentary Rip, a remix manifesto, by Brett
- A discussed a book about the history of copyright, of which there are many, but I think reading the original report fromt the Royal Commission of Patents, Copyright, Trade Marks and Industrial Design of 1957 is worth it.
Copyright Gamification Librarianship
Support our project to get indie digital games in libraries
Suivez l’évolution de ce projet: http://www.culturelibre.ca/tag/knight/
Follow the evolution of this project here: http://outfind.ca/tag/knight/
I am really excited to share with you Concordia’s own Technoculture Art and Games’ (TAG) submission for the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge, here is the link:
The goal is to get digital games from small (aka indie) studios into libraries. The benevolent Knight Foundation’s News Challenge is an open call for projects to fund innovative ideas and this current iteration focusses on Libraries.
The Knight Foundation has already granted us “prototype” funding last year to create our alpha prototype, codenamed Alice (family pictures on the proposal page). Now, we want to develop and test our library videogame system with partner libraries (Brooklyn NY, San José CA, Civilla in Detroit and with the Indigenous Futures communities in the North) over the next few years. The Knight Foundation focusses on the USA and rest assured that we will be seeking support to deploy our system in Canada and elsewhere!
Because the News Challenge uses an “open” community based evaluation process (in addition to a formal review), you can help in some very simple ways:
1. Please click on the link to get the page view count up.
2. Register an account on the system to either “heart” the proposal or leave a comment. Some useful comments could be “I would love for my local public library to have indie/digital games” or, if you are a game maker, “I would love for libraries to add my game to their collection” (or some variation thereof). Of course, please feel free to add your own comment!
3. Forward this email to anyone who believes that libraries should have Game Clubs and Indie Games.
The Comment phase of the granting cycle closes in about 2 week.
On a more personal note, my ambition is to strengthen libraries everywhere by devising an open social computing platform so that everyone can play and make games. This will also help libraries acquire and preserve digital content through open markets (fixing some pesky collective action & copyright & technological issues). I am blessed with a myriad of colleagues at Concordia who also share this vision and are willing to embark on this quest!
Thanking you in advance for your support of our project,
Concordia University Copyright
Some readings on Copyright
I am giving a lecture on copyright this afternoon and here is the list of preparatory material I submitted to the class:
The context of the lecture is the “Knowledge Management” graduate course in Education. Although this is in the EdTech program, a sizable proportion of students are in traditional teaching roles but may want exposure to other contexts. I also understood that the students will be called upon to either manage copyrighted content for others or be the creators of copyrighted content (as freelancers).
The lecture will be divided in three sections:
- Introduction to copyright (Canadian copyright, reserved rights, moral rights, exceptions…)
- Managing copyrighted content (CMS, importance of policies & contracts, permission vs. exceptions, open licensing…)
- Copyright & the freelancer (rights & responsibilities, work-for-hire & contracts, going to court…)
As always, I will be using my “what’s up with copyright?” slides.
Concordia University Copyright Lectures and conferences
What’s up with Canadian Copyright? (new edition)
I just gave a lecture about copyright called: What’s up with Canadian Copyright? Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation (or here in PDF format).
It uses the excellent NFB documentary by Brett Gaylor called: RIP! A remix manifesto. See also the movie’s page here.
This is a similar lecture to the one I delivered in February 2013 in prof. Tagny Duff’s Intermedia class at Concordia University’s Scholl of Communication Studies.
It is part of a playlist of videos on YouTube, including one on Creative Commons and the user generated content exception. Here are the 6 videos in a single playlist:
Additional reading materials:
– Read the legislative summary for bill C-11 by the Library of Parliament. (in general, it is a great idea to find these legislative summaries, the Library of the Parliament of Canada usually issues these for most laws).
– The “CCH” supreme court case (on fair dealings): CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2004 SCC 13,  1 SCR 339
Read the first dozen pages for a great introduction to Canadian Copyright. On fair dealings, start with paragraph 48, which reads :
48 Before reviewing the scope of the fair dealing exception under the Copyright Act, it is important to clarify some general considerations about exceptions to copyright infringement. Procedurally, a defendant is required to prove that his or her dealing with a work has been fair; however, the fair dealing exception is perhaps more properly understood as an integral part of the Copyright Act than simply a defence. Any act falling within the fair dealing exception will not be an infringement of copyright. The fair dealing exception, like other exceptions in the Copyright Act, is a user’s right. In order to maintain the proper balance between the rights of a copyright owner and users’ interests, it must not be interpreted restrictively. As Professor Vaver, supra, has explained, at p. 171: “User rights are not just loopholes. Both owner rights and user rights should therefore be given the fair and balanced reading that befits remedial legislation.”
On the 5 Supreme Court copyright cases delivered during the Summer of 2012, please access the Canadian Legal Information Institute’s website for the free full-text version of these rulings:
How to analyse a copyright issue (in French) :
Comment utiliser une oeuvre protégée par le droit d’auteur ?
I’ve always wanted to learn a few more languages, and I am going to add a new one to my “must earn before I die” list: econometrics. I sense that this is the analytical tool that I will eventually have to use to really dig deep into the problems I want to research. The problem is that I’ve already done the math when I was younger, but I couldn’t remember it to same my life.
In any case, here are some sources to read… in my free time…
Mostly Harmess Econometrics (2008) from Princeton University Press (this book was cited on an interesting report on copyright from the National Academies Press)
ECONOMETRICS. Bruce E. Hansen c 2000, 20131. University of Wisconsin (free ebook!)
And this video series from Ben Lambert on YouTube :
Of course, the two introductory textbooks that are often recommended are:
– Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach by Jeffrey Wooldridge
– Introduction to Econometrics by Stock & Watson
Copyright Lectures and conferences
Copyright a contrario – CDACI Lecture series, Université de Montréal
Here is the video of a lecture in English I gave yesterday at Université de Montréal’s Centre du droit des affaires et du commerce International. I also pasted below the abstract and the poster of the event :
Copyright, caught in a digital maelstrom of perpetual reform and shifting commercial practices, exacerbates tensions between cultural stakeholders. On the one hand, copyright seems to be drowned in Canada and the USA by the role reserved to exceptions by the legislature and the courts granted to certain institutions. On the other, these institutions, such as libraries, are keen to navigate digital environments by allocating their acquisitions budgets to digital works.
Beyond the paradigm shifts brought by digital technologies, one must recognize the conceptual paradox surrounding digital copyrighted works. In economic terms, they behave naturally as public goods, while copyright attempts to restore their rivalrousness and excludability. Within this paradox lies tension, between the aggregate social wealth spread by a work and its commoditized value, between network effects and reserved rights. How can markets emerge if we are not able to resolve this tension?
After discussing some theoretical aspects described above, this paper will attempt to cast new light on user rights (as posited by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004) and other emerging concepts in copyright. In particular, the making available right will be analysed from the perspective of the library community. The goal is to express how libraries can fit in a distribution chain of cultural products through the two copyright tools at their disposal: licences/limitations and exceptions.
Concordia University Copyright Lectures and conferences
What’s up with Canadian copyright?
A more recent version of this post is available here.
Creating a Copyright Team
this article from the Library Journal provides interesting insight into creating a copyright team.
A few Fair Use Guides & Statements
Here are a few Fair Use guides setup by institutions. Fair Use is a general exception to copyright applies in the USA – in Canada, we have fair dealings, which applies to private study, research, news reporting, criticism and review.
These guides may be useful in devising our own fair dealings guides.
“Best practices” from the Center for Social Media, includes the following:
– The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries from the Association of Research Libraries– Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare
– Copyright, Free Speech, and the Public’s Right to Know: How Journalists Think about Fair Use
(Thanks to this post from District Approach, an ALA blog)
Fair Use and Video: Community Practices in the Fair Use of Video in Libraries
– The Music Library Association (USA) has a series of guides delaing with Digital reserves (a type of fair use in libraries, as this one from Indiana University) as well as a general Statement on the Copyright Law and Fair Use in Music.
– Visual Resources Association: Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study (see this blog post: New College Art Association Standards and Guidelines on the Fair Use of Images posted by Linda Downs)
Academic Integrity Copyright
Academic integrity and Copyright
Here is a talk I missed at the Canadian Library Association’s annual conference and trade show last May (from the program, over 4 MB in PDF) :
B9 – From Plagiarism to Copyright Infringement and Back Again: An Agony in Six Skits
Can I copy this? The question that arises every time someone wants to use information that was created by someone else. Through the use of mini-skits, this session will illustrate the issues that need to be considered when answering this question. It will help participants to distinguish between copyright infringement and plagiarism and suggest ways to make an appropriate decision.
Kathryn Arbuckle, Law Librarian & AUL Information Resources, University of Alberta
Margaret Law, AUL International Relations, University of Alberta
Rare to see copyright and Academic Integrity paired in the same session. I’ve come to wonder about the link between copyright and Academic Integrity, they both include aspects of the other. For example, Copyright, in Canada at least, includes a Moral Right, whereby one must correctly attribute a work to its creator or face sanctions. Academic Integrity, on the other hand, is all about “appropriate” uses of documentation – using, quoting, copying… they seem to intersect, maybe even overlap, but they are also very different.
Copyright is enshrined in law whereas Academic integrity is more akin to a moral code established by local communities (your university, your research group…), vaguely similar to that of other communities but slightly different.
I sometimes think about this during my long train rides to and from work… mostly because I compulsively blog about copyright on my other blog, www.culturelibre.ca (en Francçais).