Copyright Conundrum

Photograph by Richard Ricciardi (Flickr) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

Photograph by Richard Ricciardi (Flickr) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

The new federal Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11 recently passed in the House of Commons in June 2012. As stated on the Government of Canada’s Balanced Copyright website,

“Canada now has a modern copyright regime, which will play a critical role in protecting and creating jobs in Canada’s digital economy. With this bill receiving royal assent, the Government of Canada has delivered on its commitment to seek swift passage of modernized copyright legislation in a way that strikes the right balance between the needs of creators and users.”

Though the government seems sure that this new “modern” act will provide just the right balance, I’m not so sure. I am certainly no expert on copyright. But I do think with the ever changing nature of the technological, global world, copyright laws will be in a state of continual revision, as our values and ideals toward intellectual property shift and change.

Rheingold sees it as all out war. “The conflict over who has the right to use digital media to create and disseminate intellectual property is a war over political control of the power to inform, persuade, educate, debate, and innovate.” Rheingold makes a good point. Anyone off the street who wants to, can make a statement using the digital media of their choice, to an audience of millions. There is awesome power in that.

The government says that copyright is about balance.  There is a lot at stake on this scale. I picture the government, who need to create jobs, and win political support, big business, who need to keep shareholders happy, creators, who need financial remuneration for their work, and innovators, who need ideas to build upon.

How will the “right balance” be maintained in future?

Government of Canada (2012). Balanced copyright. Retrieved from http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/crp-prda.nsf/eng/home

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net smart: How to thrive online. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press

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About sandralbecker

An educator who is passionate about the creation of a school Learning Commons, which supports inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration.
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2 Responses to Copyright Conundrum

  1. Sandra,

    You make a good point that copyright laws are always in a state of change. In the introduction of Copyright Matters!, the authors state that their booklet should only be the “starting point” for understanding copyright legislation (CMEC, 2012). I also agree that copyright laws need to strike a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of the public to access private work (CMEC, 2012). However, as digital technologies expand, I think the pendulum will swing in favour of the public. I think more illegal downloading will continue and more infringements of copyright laws will occur as digital technologies make it easier for individuals to violate copyright legislation. It will be a constant battle for the courts to keep up with technological advances and innovations. The only way that a better balance can be established is if societal ideologies regarding intellectual property become more responsible and ethical. Teachers have a lot of power in guiding future generations to respect creators’ work.

    References:
    CMEC (2012). Copyright matters. Retrieved from http://www.cmec.ca/139/Programs-and-Initiatives/Copyright/Overview/index.html.

  2. Skye says:

    Sandra, you raise some excellent outside the box questions with Canadian Copyright laws in regards to how the government provides “balance” for protecting and creating jobs with the new modernization of digital copyright laws. Thank you for that! The pressures on Government to uphold the rights of authors/creators and to also encourage corporations/big business to continue building wealth for our economy seems to be a bit of a conflict of interest. I began comparing this idea of the role of the government and it’s pandering to voters with to the pressures parents are placing on their children to perform well in school so that they may get into the university or college of choice. It seems the priority to do well may trump the legalities of copyright in some instances for parents and they are placing this desperation directly on their children. CBC’s DocZone: Faking the Grade (2012) was a perfect example of how far parents will go to make sure their child succeeds and cheating was something they were willing to pay “big bucks” for (Blicq, A., CBC Doc Zone, 2012). Copyright law doesn’t look like it’s a priority for many parents when it comes to the academic honesty of their children. It’s not just a matter of ignorance or turning a blind eye. This is an issue that isn’t just about the individual people “off the street” wanting to make statements as you were saying, it involves those who are actually making a very good living off of others’ work because of societal pressures to get ahead. How does the government (and parents and teachers, for that matter) address that?

    Reference:

    Blicq, A. (Writer), Blicq, A. (Director). (2012) Faking the Grade (Television Series Episode). In Merit Motion Pictures (Producer), CBC Doc Zone. Ottawa, ON: CBC Canada.

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