Start with the likely damage award if a case went to court. The maximum liability for an individual for non-commercial infringement in Canada is $5,000 for all infringements. With nothing more than IP addresses, there is unlikely to be any evidence of commercial intent or benefits (going for a commercial claim would require far more evidence and expensive litigation). While $5,000 is the cap, the actual number is likely to be far lower as the law sets a minimum award of $100. The law provides some additional guidance for judges:
in the case of infringements for noncommercial purposes, the need for an award to be proportionate to the infringements, in consideration of the hardship the award may cause to the defendant, whether the infringement was for private purposes or not, and the impact of the infringements on the plaintiff.
The School of Open is a global community of volunteers focused on providing free education opportunities on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and more. Volunteers develop and run online courses, offline workshops, and real world training programs on topics such as Creative Commons licenses, open educational resources, and sharing creative works. The School of Open is coordinated by Creative Commons and P2PU, a peer learning community and platform for developing and running free online courses.
In recent years, many great art museums have decided to open up their collections, putting online huge troves of images that showcase the masterpieces hanging on their walls. They’ve also made available free art catalogues and books, letting you learn all about important artists and styles of painting. Now, university presses and libraries are starting to follow suit, giving readers free access to books from their archives. We’ve tried to keep you posted on these cultural developments here on Open Culture. But you’ve likely missed a great resource or two. To make sure you stay up to speed, we offer a roundup below:
A man's ideas are only "his own" when they're private. The point at which they are no longer private (i.e. published), they can no longer be his exclusively. To claim otherwise is to claim rights over the minds of other men, which is no different than claiming the "right" of slavery.
While we've pointed out for years that when people claim that infringing works are "stolen," they're using the wrong word, since nothing is missing, that is not the case here. Here, things are absolutely missing. The entire purpose of copyright law is to provide the incentives to have the work created in the first place. As such, it's a deal, where the public grants the creators an exclusive right for a number of years, in return for getting the work (in a limited fashion) for a period of time and then having that work become public domain at the end. Retroactive copyright extension is a unilateral change in that deal -- directly taking the work away from the public domain without any recompense to the public the work has been stolen from. This makes absolutely no sense. Clearly, since the work was created, the incentive was good enough at the time of creation. Adding on more years that the public doesn't get it at the end does nothing to incentivize the work that was already created fifty years ago.
The Public Domain Review is a not-for-profit project dedicated to showcasing the most interesting and unusual out-of-copyright works available online.
All works eventually fall out of copyright – from classic works of art, music and literature, to abandoned drafts, tentative plans, and overlooked fragments. In doing so they enter the public domain, a vast commons of material that everyone is free to enjoy, share and build upon without restriction.
Open curriculum alternatives to MPAA’s new anti-piracy campaign for kids new
Generally speaking, copyright gives the individual who owns the rights to a work the ability to dictate how it is reproduced and under what conditions. "Fair dealing" is an exception to this - it allows users to perform certain activities (like say, photocopying a book so you can continue studying when you leave the library) without violating copyright.
The first factor essential to deciding if an activity falls under fair dealing is its purpose - i.e., the reason you are making a copy. In the Canadian Copyright Act, section 29 lays out these exceptional purposes:
1. Research or Private Study: users can make copies so long as the purpose is for research or private study (section 29).
2. Criticism or Review: users can make copies for criticism or review, as long as they include the source and, if given in the source, the author, performer, maker or broadcaster (section 29.1).
3. News Reporting: users can make copies for news reporting, as long as they include the source and, if given in the source, the author, performer, maker or broadcaster (section 29.2).
"For the first time in a judgment on the merits, the European Court of Human Rights has clarified that a conviction based on copyright law for illegally reproducing or publicly communicating copyright protected material can be regarded as an interference with the right of freedom of expression and information under Article 10 of the European Convention. Such interference must be in accordance with the three conditions enshrined in the second paragraph of Article 10 of the Convention. This means that a conviction or any other judicial decision based on copyright law, restricting a person’s or an organisation’s freedom of expression, must be pertinently motivated as being necessary in a democratic society, apart from being prescribed by law and pursuing a legitimate aim.
It is, in other words, no longer sufficient to justify a sanction or any other judicial order restricting one’s artistic or journalistic freedom of expression on the basis that a copyright law provision has been infringed. Neither is it sufficient to consider that the unauthorised use, reproduction or public communication of a work cannot rely on one of the narrowly interpreted exceptions in the copyright law itself, including the application of the so-called three-step test [...]"
"This morning, the majority of Bill C-11, the copyright reform bill, took effect, marking the most significant changes to Canadian copyright law in decades. While there are still some further changes to come (the Internet provider notice-and-notice rules await a consultation and their own regulations, various provisions related to the WIPO Internet treaties await formal ratification of those treaties), all the consumer oriented provisions are now active. These include:
The addition of education, parody, and satire as fair dealing purposes.
The creation of a non-commercial user generated content provision that creates a legal safe harbour for creators of non-commercial UGC (provided they meet four conditions in the law) and for sites that host such content.
The adoption of several new consumer exceptions including time shifting (recording of television shows), format shifting, and the making of backup copies.
Changes to the statutory damages rules that distinguish between commercial and non-commercial infringement. The law now includes a cap of $5000 for all non-commercial infringement. The change reduces the likelihood of lawsuits against individuals for non-commercial activities and would apply to educational institutions engaged in non-commercial activity and significantly reduce their potential liability for infringement.
The inclusion of an exception for publicly available materials on the Internet for education. This covers the content found on millions of websites that can now be communicated and reproduced by educational institutions without the need for permission or compensation.
The adoption of a technology-neutral approach for the reproduction of materials for display purposes. The current law is limited to manual reproduction or on an overhead projector. The provision may be applicable in the online learning context and open the door to digitization activities.
The implementation of a distance learning provision, though use of the exception features significant restrictions that require the destruction of lessons at the conclusion of the course.
The inclusion of a restrictive digital inter-library loans provision that will allow for digital transmission of materials on an inter-library basis, increasing access to materials that have been acquired by university libraries.
A new exception for public performances in schools, which will reduce licensing costs for educational institutions."
"There comes a point where even the courts, often the last institution in society to effectuate any sort of change in the status quo, understand that the law as it exists today is doing more to hinder progress than to help it. That time should be now."
"Access Copyright has tried to minimize the Court's decision, arguing that it only applies to seven percent of the copying in its tariff for K-12 schools. I noted in an earlier post, the evidence actually shows that 88 percent of copying in those schools already occurs without the need for Access Copyright or a fair dealing analysis. At issue is only 5.8 percent of copying for which Access Copyright is demanding millions in compensation. Yet the Court's analysis of fair dealing provides very strong guidance that the overwhelming majority of these remaining copies qualify as fair dealing and do not require additional compensation. As the education community develops its copyright policies, it need only rely on what the Supreme Court of Canada has actually said when it comes to determining the application of fair dealing."
"Yet a historical comparison, at least, reaches a different conclusion. Publishers in England exploited their monopoly shamelessly. New discoveries were generally published in limited editions of at most 750 copies and sold at a price that often exceeded the weekly salary of an educated worker.
London's most prominent publishers made very good money with this system, some driving around the city in gilt carriages. Their customers were the wealthy and the nobility, and their books regarded as pure luxury goods. In the few libraries that did exist, the valuable volumes were chained to the shelves to protect them from potential thieves.
In Germany during the same period, publishers had plagiarizers -- who could reprint each new publication and sell it cheaply without fear of punishment -- breathing down their necks. Successful publishers were the ones who took a sophisticated approach in reaction to these copycats and devised a form of publication still common today, issuing fancy editions for their wealthy customers and low-priced paperbacks for the masses.
A Multitude of Treatises
This created a book market very different from the one found in England. Bestsellers and academic works were introduced to the German public in large numbers and at extremely low prices. "So many thousands of people in the most hidden corners of Germany, who could not have thought of buying books due to the expensive prices, have put together, little by little, a small library of reprints," the historian Heinrich Bensen wrote enthusiastically at the time."
"Despite continuously asserting its commitment to fighting piracy, Google has given Ari Emanuel and the rest of the entertainment industry exactly what they want — and rest assured, it won't be long before they want more. After all, these are the same figures who have been barking exaggerated figures to try and perpetuate a myth about piracy bringing their multi-billion dollar industry to its knees.
Google claims the capitulation is in service to users, stating that the goal is to help them "find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily." But with the company’s recent push to establish itself as a media platform (a la Google Play) it seems more likely that the Google chimera is simply sprouting its latest head, unconcerned with cannibalizing its integrity as a search engine in its new quest to foster big media partnerships.
But more important is the disturbing message this sends to the entertainment industry: a little intimidation (and a search engine desperately trying to reincarnate as a streaming media service) can still go a long way."
Limiting research to creative purposes would also run counter to the ordinary meaning of "research", which can include many activities that do not demand the establishment of new facts or conclusions. It can be piecemeal, informal, exploratory, or confirmatory. It can in fact be undertaken for no purpose except personal interest. It is true that research can be for the purpose of reaching new conclusions, but this should be seen as only one, not the primary component of the definitional framework.
I'd also like us all to acknowledge that the current copyright system, the unmovable boulder in the stream, rather than protecting rights holders and acting as a deterrent to infringement, is in its very complications a shelter for those who use others' material without permission and an obstacle to those who would like to legally use or remix content. Whether it is done consciously or unconsciously, nefariously or in communal bliss, given the complicated, arcane process, the myriad hoops to jump through, the length and cost of the process, who can afford to participate?
The trap uses the fact that the line between cultural sharing and ripping someone off is blurry. Was George Harrison really ripping off The Chiffon’s in My Sweet Lord? For me, that’s a really blurry line, but ultimately I was sorry that he lost the case, in part because the song was simpler, in part because it was so famous a reference that I thought it was a form of homage, and in part because when in doubt we should allow cultural re-mixing to avoid cultural chilling effects. But the fact that the line is blurry does not mean that all cases are blurry. And Erin’s case and my hypothetical case are to me clear instances where someone is stealing the rewards that should accrue to the creator. I don’t think Erin is being hypocritical in the least: supporting serious copyright reform does not require one to give up all copyright claims. We think otherwise because the copyright totalitarians have succeeded in making us think that the alternative to the current insanity is to have absolutely no protection for creators. But fuzzy lines are still lines. (Well, ok, maybe they’re actually areas, not lines. But that’s neither here nor there.)
Another example is “intellectual property”. If “intellectual property” is bona fide property, then you should be able to steal it. Can you? The Supreme Court of the United States thinks you can’t steal intellectual property the same way you can steal cars:
(…) interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The infringer of a copyright does not assume physical control over the copyright nor wholly deprive its owner of its use.
Yet even judges get confused. Recently a programmer from Goldman Sachs who copied and shared secret software was acquitted of theft charges. Yet, in its verdict, the court writes that he stole purely intangible property embodied in a purely intangible format. He cannot be convicted of theft, so why use the word in the first place? The intellectual property lobby goes even further when it talks about piracy. (Thankfully, they haven’t yet prosecuted someone for actual piracy.) Effectively, they have changed the language, they have gotten us to attribute new meaning to existing words, to associate piracy and theft to the infringement of exclusivity rights.
Copying art is an act of love.
People copy stuff they like. They don’t copy stuff they don’t like. The more a work is copied, the more valuable it becomes. Value isn’t taken away by fans, it is added by them, every time they copy.
First myth: Copyright is meant primarily to protect authors.
This is a lie.
State-enforced copyright came about with the Statute of Anne in 1710. It was the result lobby of a group English publishers who sought to regain their monopoly on publishing. Handing out the initial copyright to the authors was a political gesture: the goal has always been to get authors to hand over the copyright to the publisher, effectively giving the publisher a monopoly.
In most countries, copyright hold for 70 years after the death of the author. Such a long-term copyright cannot possibly be meant to protect authors.
Second myth: Copyright protects the little guy.
Most of the revenue due to copyright go to wealthy individuals and corporations. Meanwhile, most people who rely on their copyright for a living (writers, musicians, and so on) have low incomes.
Third myth: Without copyright, there could be no innovation.
Some of the most innovative domains are virtually free from copyright:
The fashion industry is effectively copyright-free. Anyone can come up with a new design for a dress. If the design is successful, it will be copied and it is unpractical to try to enforce copyright. Thus, fashion designers must constantly out-innovate the competition.
Researchers freely hand over the copyright to publishers in exchange for nothing. Researchers are driven to invent and innovate because their remuneration and social status depends on their reputation. If anything, copyright on research work slows down progress.
Fourth myth: We know that copyright makes us collectively better off.
The evidence points in the opposite direction. Germany had weak copyright laws up until the Copyright Act of 1901. Yet, maybe because of these weak laws, it became a literary and scientific power:
(…), only 1,000 new works appeared annually in England at that time — 10 times fewer than in Germany — and this was not without consequences. Höffner believes it was the chronically weak book market that caused England, the colonial power, to fritter away its head start within the span of a century, while the underdeveloped agrarian state of Germany caught up rapidly, becoming an equally developed industrial nation by 1900. (No Copyright Law The Real Reason for Germany’s Industrial Expansion? by Frank Thadeusz)
Your dentist probably does not have access to the latest research papers in dentistry: subscribing to a single scientific journal can cost thousands of dollars a year. Is it any surprise if the general public is poorly informed when copyright is used to keep them away from the best science, leaving them only generic news content and blogs?
Even if you don’t care about science, you should be concerned with the cost of copyright. For example, have you seen the latest Star War movies? They are awful. But that is all we are going to get for at least another 70 years because George Lucas has a monopoly on Star Wars. Without copyright, or with more limited copyright, we would have had several creators competing to build better Star War movies.
Fifth myth: Without copyright, authors would not get paid.
Scientists and many authors actually pay to be published. Some authors publish for the indirect benefits of their publications, such as an improved reputation. Moreover, much work is actually the result of patronage: scientists get paid by funding bodies.
“But, Daniel, you are delusional! Not every writer can find a patron.” Am I? I have funded several book projects myself. For example, a lady called Kio Stark got $38,928 from us to write a handbook on alternatives to schooling.
Several authors get funded on kickstarter:
Rich Burlew received $1,254,120 to get back in print an old comic book.
Dennis McKenna received $85,750 to write a memoir.
Cory Silverberg received $65,516 to write a book on where babies come from.
In fact, if you think about it for a minute, whenever you buy a book or a movie, you are being a patron to this project. So all work is the result of patronage. Cory Doctorow makes all his novels available for free from his web site. He happens to be one of the most successful writer of his generation. You can be confident that he is doing well financially. It works for him because people are willing to support him: his paying readers are his patrons.
I should add that whenever you follow a link to Amazon.com from my site, and purchase something, I get a percentage of the transaction. On a good day, I can make $5 with my blog. I could also add ads and make a few hundred dollars a month. You do not need copyright laws to make some money off a blog: your readers can act as your patrons.
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