Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Canadian Copyright - What I just learned

Amazing what teh internets offer up. Specifically, A Guide to Copyrights: Copyright Protection from the Canadian intellectual Property Office.

Please note: Due to the recent changes to regulations that came into force on June 2, 2007, the publication A Guide to Copyrights is currently being updated.

Well gee, that makes it a little bit harder to determine what is actually law, don't it? You've had since June to update this, what's taking so damn long?

First the obvious: In the simplest terms, "copyright" means "the right to copy." Only the owner of copyright, very often the creator of the work, is allowed to produce or reproduce the work in question or to permit anyone else to do so.

Remember that folks. Just because downloading music is not a crime, possessing a copy is. Unless...... keep that in mind as you read this post.

Now to the nitty gritty.

Making a copy of a musical tape for private use is not infringement because a royalty payment to the owners of the song rights has been paid when the blank audio tape was purchased.

I didn't realize that. I knew I could make a copy, but I thought I could make a copy to back up what I had purchased under fair-use exceptions. I didn't realize it was because I had paid a royalty. I thought this royalty thing started with blank CDs .

We're just getting started, things get even more confusing and contradictory, very quickly:

On the other hand, making a copy of a videocassette movie protected by copyright is infringement, even if you only watch it in your own home.

This, quite plainly, is bullshit. VHS tapes are very unstable media. It is too easy to degrade a VHS tape by playing it. The more you use it, the worse it gets. Same thing if you never use it, the magnetic signal eventually degrades. Nothing like paying for self-destructing media, and then not being allowed to do anything about it. VHS is going the way of the dinosaur, but its the principle of the thing.

Examples of infringement: playing records at a dance without the copyright owners' permission

Not infringement: playing records at home

This one is a tricky one. If you have a private party in a public place (i.e., wedding reception), and bring in your own music and devices to play the music on, you are in violation of copyright. Even though it is a private, non-profit (and probably very expensive) party, you somehow are violating copyright. Hold that wedding reception in your house, its legal. All that changes is the venue. I call bullshit on that too.

You also cannot just setup a radio and tune it to the local station and broadcast it in a public setting. I don't know if that extends to blaring the radio at the beach too your friends, but I do know you can't just setup a radio in a reception hall and play it.

Not infringement: borrowing a musical tape from a friend to copy onto a blank tape for private use (a royalty payment to the owner of the song rights has been paid when the blank tape was purchased).

Huh. I did not know this. Again its the royalty that gives you the right to copy for personal use. The question is, what now does the royalty extend to, and on what type of devices? According to wikipedia: it only includes Audio Cassette tape, CD and MiniDisc. Note that DVDs and other media types are not included. (There was a levy on MP3 players, but it was repealed). Reading the Tariff of Levies collected in 2006 would support that conclusion. It also seems evident that only musical recordings are covered, and that movies, e-books, etc. are not.

But if levies are not gathered on hard drives, MP3 players, DVDs, SD cards etc. than is it currently illegal to copy music onto those devices? Or is that what is in current legal limbo with no clear definition? Anyone know?

What I have really learned. As a teenager, when I was copying my friends audio-cassettes in high school, I thought it was illegal, but it wasn't. As an adult, I thought that backing up or transferring my legally purchased DVDs was legal, but it isn't. *SIGH* I try to be good little boy and follow the law and I still fuck it up. I should be doing the exact opposite of what I posted the other day. Downloading and burning music and not buying movies instead of buying movies and ditching the music scene.

Before I did this research, I thought the current copyright act was straightforward and fair. In fact its very confusing, and contradictory. And in many areas totally stupid and absolute bullshit.

Change is needed, and we consumers have to fight for our rights. As James Bow commented, a two-pronged approach would be the best bet.

*Update* Case in point the head of litigation from Sony BMG testified that she believed that ripping your own CDs is stealing.


Saskboy said...

The law for Copyright is BS, and that's why I don't stress out over observing it in private. As long as the law stays as it is, or becomes less restrictive, I'll continue to mind my own business, and artists can continue to make music and movies and write books.

Catelli said...

Oh agreed, on all points.

But laws should be applicable, make sense and are easy to understand and follow. Especially ones that govern our personal conduct in our own homes.

If I make that excuse to the RCMP when they bust through my door to arrest me, they'd taser me for being a smart ass.