Bunfights in the Dark: #C32

Here is the video of the Committee Hearing: (They saw me, I saw squiggly bits). In it you will note some guy — apparently Dean Del Maestro — yelling at me while I am silently opening and closing my mouth like a fish because he turned the mic off.

http://parlvu.parl.gc.ca/ParlVu/

One of the things he yelled was that no one had ever suggested that educators would pay less to authors and that it was outrageous for me to say so. But the government said so its very own self:

In a government fact sheet on Bill C-32, entitled What the New Copyright Modernization Act Means for Teachers, the Government emphasizes that fair dealing for the purpose of education will be an “important” change to the Copyright Act and that “Extending this provision to education will reduce the administrative and financial costs for users of copyrighted materials that enrich the educational environment.”

“Administrative costs” means tracking the use of copied material, I can only suppose. “Financial costs” means paying for it. If the government doesn’t mean that, what in stars DOES it mean?

26 Comments

Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog

26 responses to “Bunfights in the Dark: #C32

  1. Steve Pitt

    Thank you for standing up for creators’ rights and copyright, Ms. Atwood. Judging by the Right Honourable Del Maestro’s antics, the pro-Bill C-32 Conservatives have fully embraced the Bill O’Reilly school of debate. Beware when the lights go out. The same kind of people are known to bring bricks to a bunfight.

  2. Marian Hebb

    Well said, Margaret Atwood. The proposed extension of “fair dealing” to include “education” is certainly intended to reduce costs for educators. Will it? You bet. The trouble is that no one knows by how much it will cut what is currently collected for creators and publishers by their collective societies, Access Copyright and Copibec. And no one can know this until the Courts tell us, after lengthy and costly litigation that creators can’t afford and should not have to engage in – probably a never-ending string of court cases as copying happens in different contexts, and fair dealing is supposed to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Commentators lobbying for this change to the Copyright Act are arguing that the Courts will be guided by 6 factors that will help them to determine what is “fair”. But “fairness”, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Wherever the Courts decide to draw this “fairness” line, “education” is a broad purpose and there will be many more copies that are not paid for and consequently less money than there would otherwise be for creators.

    • Curious if we can get past specific words where we disagree on the impact on creators rights (IE: “education” and “theft”), and see if there can be common ground on policy.

      My beliefs on educational copyright are as follows:

      a) That copyright should work in the classroom the same as it does in the home. Notice I didn’t say in public, in a business, or in a theater/cinema, but home. I believe that the classroom, especially in cases of children and young adults, should be an extension of that type of familiar setting.

      b) That teachers be able to “step into the shoes” of students and do on their behalf things which would be legal for the students to have done themselves.

      c) That there not be institutional exceptions which would mis-educate students about the nature and contours of copyright, and thus induce infringing activities in the rest of their lives. Educational settings, especially provincially chartered educational institutions, are very specifically the wrong setting to have rules that are radically different than how the rest of the world works.

      This would be my belief whether I was a creator or not, but I also happen to think that this would benefit creators as well.

      I don’t subscribe to the notion that more copyright means more material rewards for creators, so don’t agree that any limits to copyright will decrease revenues. I believe that if copyright is to be respected, it has to be respectable. The more copyright regulates activities which a majority of the population think it shouldn’t, the less respect copyright will receive.

      Part of making copyright more respectable is putting a priority on clarifying and simplifying the law (something where C-32 does the opposite), and part comes to educating people about the law : which has a place both in the home and in the classroom.

      I may disagree with many of the people here on the impact that adding “education” to section 19 would have. The fact that there is so much disagreement is in my mind proof that C-32 failed on the “clarifying and simplifying” requirement that has been missing from copyright revision in decades.

      Unlike some of the people here, I do not believe that removing the word “education” from C-32 should make the bill palatable to authors. I believe that word should have been seen as one of the least controversial in the bill as I believe it is one of the areas that will cause the least harm to fellow creators.

      I also believe that any change to the copyright that doesn’t have a clear simple meaning will lead to the courts. If court costs to creators to figure out the meaning of unnecessarily complex language in the bill is a major issue, then there are far more important parts of C-32 to focus opposition on.

      Heck — I’m focused on TPMs where some of the top lawyers promoting the legal protection of TPMs can’t accurately differentiate an “access control” from a “use control”. The harm to creators from misunderstood and misapplied TPMs will easily be larger than anything that can come from infringement, or changes to limitations and exceptions.

  3. Mark Finnan

    Typical DelMaestro tactic as a pandering puppet of the ‘shout to kill’ policy of the Prime Minister’ office.

  4. Margaret
    Way to go, Margaret!
    To say that the federal government is trying to solve the educational financing crisis on the backs of writers and other creators is perhaps unfair, but the intent of Bill C-32 is to lessen the costs of copyright protected work for the educational sector. Call it what you will, it is expropriation without compensation.
    What the Conservative government does not realize, and what the educators refuse to admit is that if this bill is passed without amendment it will mean that there will be fewer Canadian authored books and Canadian edcational texts available for Canadian school children because it will not be financially viable to produce books for this market. That is bad cultural policy.
    Thanks for stepping into this debate. Your voice is important.
    Bill Freeman

  5. Stuart Ross

    Thanks for this, Margaret! This is important for writers — and important for readers too.

  6. Well said, Mme Atwood. Thank you for standing up!

  7. Thank you very much, Margaret Atwood. I, like many others in the Union. have followed this up with my MP, but your appearing at the Committee Hearing should have a significant influence. Although when people actually turn your mic off when you are speaking, what can we think?

  8. Adrian White

    In your case, fire in the belly is an understatement. Hopefully, the committee will twig to the scope of your concerns. Otherwise, they will stay in the woods.

  9. After watching the clip, it seems to me that “The Right Honourable” is a misuse of the title when applied to Del Maestro. It is interesting that his name means “teacher” in Spanish.
    Given the consistency of recent Conservative party behaviour with respect to silencing opposing views, and the importance of the honourable Parliamentary tradition of dialogue, The Right Honourable Margaret Atwood is a much more suitable use of the honorific.
    Regrettably, we are all losers when any of our governments stop listening.

  10. Thank you so much for standing up for us all, Ms. Atwood. Dean del Mastro, who I am devastated to say is my MP, is a thick-headed bully. Your parrying his dullard’s antics with your keen mind and wisdom makes you a heroine amongst us. Thank you again.

  11. Merna Summers

    Thanks for this. “Expropriation without compensation says it all.” If the “Harper government” wants to be generous to schools, it should do it on its own nickel.

  12. Howard White

    Thanks for being there for us, Margaret.

  13. How rude of Dean Del Mastro — not to mention misinformed! And I recall that Jason Kenney’s office posted an entire CBC story to his own website, without permission. Somehow, the government’s assurances would be more convincing if their MPs demonstrated a basic knowledge of what’s in the Bill, or even what the concept of copyright means.

    Thanks for your blog follow-up on this foul-play (switched off the mike?) attempt to bully you. The facts are plain, and won’t change no matter how loudly Del Mastro shouts. He’s wrong. You’re right! :)

  14. I’ll politely disagree here. The question about fair is whether the costs to the education system fairly or unfairly effect artists. Information is not the same as socks or cars. That artists create materials provides a benefit to society as a whole and to the artist who creates them. Copyright law exists to ensure that a continued supply of copied art will exist, so that this societal benefit will continue. In fact, all monetary benefits of copying an artists works exist because of copyright law, and economic efficiency can be achieved just as easily by assigning all copying rights to the consumer. (In this scenario, Atwood’s book would costs me more to purchase, but then I could share the copies at will and for profit as I chose.)

    The administrative cost refers to the not-insignificant magic red-tape dance that librarians, educators and others have to perform to comply with copyright rules and to rightly enforce said rules on the students and educators who might be tempted not to abide by those rules. The artist does not receive any benefit from these costs –> they are all sunk in compliance and enforcement in the name of creating the Margaret Atwoods of the future.

    I would not dare to be an expert on what is fair or not fair (although I would rather respect the power of the electorate to figure that out than have Ms. Atwood decide that, with all due respects). There is a question for me about the ability to enforce this fairness, but I disagree that educators offer no support in this regard – in fact, they play a major role in the enforcement (and don’t forget the EDUCATION) of copyright (and plagiarism, and not getting duped by a publisher, and bringing the attention to artistic works in the first place).

  15. marg09

    Here is an email I have received, which has some useful links:

    Dear Margaret,
     
    You are right to focus on property rights in this argument. As currently framed, the education exception under “fair dealing” in C-32 will take away a portion of creators’ intellectual property rights without offering any compensation at all. The Liberal proposal, announced just before Christmas, is to fence in the education exception– that is, to better define it, presumably by limiting it to recognized educational institutions (whatever these might be) — but also to put together a fund to compensate artists. Obviously, some compensation is better than nothing, but in principle they are asking artists to give up a right for a benefit. Benefits, of course, can easily be cut when times are difficult…
     
    The Conservatives are relying on the six-part Supreme Court framework for dealing with the vexed question of what constitutes “fair dealing.” But under the framework “fair dealing” is to be decided on a case-by-case basis, and the financial impact on a creator’s ability to sell a work is not necessarily the most important factor to be considered. As you note in your beautifully concise statement, this is a recipe for costly litigation between education bodies “floating as they do on public money” and rightsholders usually with far fewer resources. It’s not a fair fight, and the new bill will weaken the position of artists, not strengthen it.
     
    Here are links to two useful papers, one prepared by The Writers’ Union of Canada in November in conjunction with six other writing organizations and a more recent brief encapsulating the concerns of almost 90 arts organizations across Canada:  .
     
    Thanks so much for speaking out on this crucial issue!
     
    Alan Cumyn
    Chair, The Writers’ Union of Canada

  16. He turned your mic off so he could shout that question time is for questioners to make their points (while not being interrupted by answers they don’t like). This method of questioning is known as Mastrodelbating. Thank you for your clear statement and for the wit and nerve you showed in the face of the bullying.

  17. Marian Hebb

    I’ll politely disagree with Ryan Deschamps that “economic efficiency can be achieved just as easily by assigning all copying rights to the consumer. (In this scenario, Atwood’s book would costs me more to purchase, but then I could share the copies at will and for profit as I chose.)”

    What consumers will be foolish enough to actually purchase a book if the reasonable price is close to high enough to reflect the fact that it will sell very few copies because the law permits consumers to copy it? Very soon after publication and a few sales, the author’s book would be available for free or at low cost from entrepreneurs like Ryan who undertake to sell and profit from it or, if they don’t need the money, to share it with friends. How many authors will be able or willing to spend several years or more writing a book without expecting to be able to continue to sell and profit from their own work (after the first few sales) through a reasonable stream of royalties to support or, more often, help support them while working on the next one? They will have to sell socks and cars and, if they have time to write, it will be a hobby.

    • There is also a middle ground, which is to stop focusing on the word “copy” and focus instead on appropriate limits to authors rights such that licensed works provide some valuable to the audience.

      I wish the word “copy” was thought of as a synonym for “manuscript” (IE: manuscript-right), or we moved to saying Authors Rights or Creators’ Rights in English to match the sentiment in French. The word “copy” in “copyright” has always caused misunderstandings of the nature and purpose of the law.

      For me the line between regulated activities and limits to copyright should be public vs. private. When we added “communication by telecommunications” and “performance” to copyright, we had it be “to the public”. We didn’t regulate private communications (IE: the wires from the record player to speakers), or private performances (watching a movie in the home).

      If we made this clarification to the rest of the act, I believe much of the animosity would be reduced. And in my mind, improving the civility of the debate will benefit creators as it makes infringing in ways that harm creators socially unacceptable. The more acceptable infringement becomes, the less value copyright will be to any of us!

      As I said in the other thread, the copyright debate isn’t just happening in committees and among those of us who have lived for decades in the copyright revision bubble. It is happening in the general public, and I think many of my fellow creators here would be disturbed at the direction the debate is going. The more the general public hears “theft is theft” type of language, the more they dismiss the applicability of copyright to their lives, and the more they move from helpful infringement, to neutral infringement, to harmful infringement.

      And for our amusement: Anti Movie Piracy PSA Parody Spoof (From IT Crowd)

      Or not…

  18. Ms. Atwood, thank you for representing writers and taking time to fight for creator’s rights. I support your efforts.

    To quote the right: People do not value what they receive for free and it inculcates a sense of entitlement. Therefore, students and academics should pay creators and not receive free products.

    And if students are required to pay the bookstore and the university for their products and labour, they should also be required to pay the writer for his/her product and labour. Writers have no obligation to provide free labour and welfare for academia?

    Use of private property by anyone but its owner should be by permission and/or with compensation. Compensation to writers is necessary to encourage professional writing in Canada, about Canadian interests.
    Compensation for copying is necessary to encourage originality of creation and Canadian content. A requirement to compensate for copying is necessary to discourage plagiarism and a copy-and-paste mentality.

    I think we should also point out that expansion of the definition of fair dealing to include educational use will encourage violations of patents and trademarks, and internal corporate data as well.

    Best regards,
    Shauna Singh Baldwin

  19. Ms. Atwood, thank you for representing writers and taking time to fight for creator’s rights. I support your efforts.

    To quote the right: People do not value what they receive for free and it inculcates a sense of entitlement. Therefore, students and academics should pay creators and not receive free products.

    And if students are required to pay the bookstore and the university for their products and labour, they should also be required to pay the writer for his/her product and labour. Writers have no obligation to provide free labour and welfare for academia.

    Use of private property by anyone but its owner should be by permission and/or with compensation. Compensation to writers is necessary to encourage professional writing in Canada, about Canadian interests.
    Compensation for copying is necessary to encourage originality of creation and Canadian content. A requirement to compensate for copying is necessary to discourage plagiarism and a copy-and-paste mentality.

    I think we should also point out that expansion of the definition of fair dealing to include educational use will encourage violations of patents and trademarks, and internal corporate data as well.

    Best regards,
    Shauna Singh Baldwin

  20. Jeff Power

    The US has a similar fair use provision for education and don’t have a continuous line to the courts to settle disputes.
    This is also has to be considered given the US’s need to litigate.
    The biggest problem here is that everyone has a different interpretation of the educational exception. If none agrees on what impact it will have, how can it be discussed in a meaningful way.
    It would be nice if you could go to a court and get a ruling on what exactly it would me to everyone involved.

  21. Lanny

    Thank you for trying. I love talking to school children about writing – seeing the fire in the eyes of the ones who are truly interested. But I can’t afford to write books then give them away for free! Too bad – the kids are the ones who will ultimately suffer,

    And Dean Del Maestro grow up! Remember what they tough you in kindergarden? Wait your turn – it is not polite to interrupt others.

  22. Dear Margaret,

    A heartfelt thanks for your defence of writers’ interests.

    Paying for writing is to pay for the writer’s research, contemplation, insight, and formulation of ideas – in short, for their work. Any worker asks to be compensated.

    Paying for this work remains a tremendous and honest value to the reader. While there are plenty of ‘free words’ out there these days, everyone who has a subscription to a good, intelligent magazine knows that this offers a different level of writing and thought than the ‘free papers’ on the subway. (After all, such papers and the other ‘free content’ with which our society is indundated are not really free. They are usually just a vehicle for advertising, and derive their profit from the reader in the form of their spending.)

    If we want independent insight and intelligence in the words we read, we must pay the writers to do the work.

    Vincent

  23. Pingback: Margaret Atwood criticizes local MP’s behaviour

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