Friday, December 14, 2007

Copyright as "Sexy"

Ivor Tossell of the Globe and Mail has a very provocative article today about how copyright is now “cool” and “sexy.” The irony is that the copyright maximalists are reaping what they have sown.

Indeed, there is a growing recognition that copyright is becoming an issue that also resonates with other familiar - and such politically sensitive - “sexy” issues as:

• Political sovereignty. Note that Canadians are leery of “made in the USA” policies. Whether Iraq or DMCA.
• Cultural sovereignty. Note that Canadians actually like their independent Canadian creators, such as Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan and Bare Naked Ladies and respect their independent views on balanced copyright, which is quite different than that of many others who profess to speak for the Canadian music industry.
• Cultural diversity. Note that there’s a lot of legitimate material from around the world that is being blocked in Canada by regional coding due to DRM, which is all about price discrimination and denial of access.
• Individual freedom. Note that Canadians want to be able to see, read, hear and communicate whatever they wish whenever and however they wish without having pay too many times or too much or being blocked outright.
• Competitiveness and innovation. Note that serious documented Canadian slippage could be because we already pay more for per capita and have less access to copyrighted materials than our counterparts in the other major economies.
• Privacy. Canadians are justifiably proud of our serious respect for privacy, which has thus far been successful in preventing lawsuits against children and dead grandmothers in this country. Excessive DRM protection and litigation against downloaders and file sharers will blow this privacy away.

All of this is nothing if not ironic. The content industries have succeeded in raising the profile of IP to the highest levels of government in the G8 countries and elsewhere.

Much of the reason for this IP high profile is based upon profoundly fallacious metaphors and “moral panic” arguments, as Bill Patry is so eloquent at exposing. i.e. if I steal your car, I am clearly harming you, but if I cut and paste from your scholarly article or even from your movie or song, and I credit you, I am likely also benefiting you. Many, including musicians, would say the same about downloading songs. However, the DMCA and the anti fair use/fair dealing approach knows no such subtlety.

"Intellectual property" is not the same as "property" in real estate or a car.

Did these lobbyists really think that nobody would notice this increased attention to IP in the days of Web 2.0?

As I so often say to IP lobbyists - be careful what you wish for.


1 comment:

  1. The interesting thing about the CMCC is they speak for 187 musicians and groups. But people like you and Michael make it sound like they speak for the whole industry. They are a voice -- but not a huge one. They represent a viewpoint, but I'd be careful not to overstate their importance. Then again, if you didn't overstate their importance, you wouldn't have a lot of support for your point in regards to music, now would you?