Home > Internet > LobbyNomics: Kings, Queens, Copyright and Canada — Lessons to and from the UK

LobbyNomics: Kings, Queens, Copyright and Canada — Lessons to and from the UK

Hargreave and his colleagues are under no illusions that much is needed to turn things around. First and foremost, they note that a compliant Parliament willing to do the copyright industries bidding on the basis of flimsy evidence has got to stop. This will require, first, that “Government should ensure that development of the IP System is driven as far as possible by objective evidence” (italics added, p. 98).

Furthermore, “any machinery in this area of policy and public administration [will have] to be robust” (p. 92). In another words, Government will have to be strong and stand up to the lobbyists and do what’s right. Maybe a strong Conservative Government will come in handy after all?

They also come up with a handy wishlist, some of which Canadians might find interesting because it takes some good stuff from the recent Copyright Modernization Act while leaving its nasty bits behind. And rather than beating around the bush, they put their wishlist in the form of “shoulds”:

  • “Government should firmly resist over-regulation of activities”;
  • Government should should provide “incentives to creators”;
  • “Government . . . should appoint a senior figure to . . . establish a cross sectoral Digital Copyright Exchange . . . by the end of 2012″;
  • “The UK should . . . establish a framework for cross border copyright licensing;
  • Government should include exemptions for “format shifting, parody, non-commercial research, library archiving”, news, analysis and general advancement of knowledge;
  • The Goverment “should . . . build a . . . framework adaptab[le] to new technologies;
  • Government “should also legislate to ensure that these and other copyright exceptions are protected from override by contract” (pp. 98-99).
The audacity!
In laying out their hybrid wishlist/marching orders, the authors also point to Canada for a couple of things, rreminding us that we need to be mindful of good things in our own backyard rather than always looking abroad for instruction.
First, they point to the quality of a particular Industry Canada study from 2007 (which I have not read) as one of the only good ones around. Second, they remind us that, despite some of its fundamental flaws, the proposed Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-32) in Canada introduced by the last government should be commended for its path-breaking ‘user created content’ (UCC) and ‘parody’ exceptions that allow people to make mash-ups and funnies for personal and non-commercial use.
The fact that Bill C-32 did not require ISPs and/or search engines to take down content after receiving complaints of copyright infringement is another strong point, although all major ISPs in Canada have provisions in the acceptable user policies indicating that they reserve the right to do this all the same.

These were significant advances in Canada, and the Brits would like to have them — and more — as their own.

In the UK, serious challenges to the Digital Economy Act are underway. This report is just one of them.

A court challenge to the ‘notice and take-down’ rules launched by two major ISPs, BT and TalkTalk, is another. Top-notch communication and media scholars, with a deep understanding of these industries, such as Robin Mansell have been (thankfully) harnessed into having these measures repealed.

LSE scholars Bart Cammearts and Bingchun Meng, have also weighed in on the side of the good, as I have indicated in an earlier post. Let us wish them well.

The lesson for us? We have some good things and must stand on guard for thee. And the ‘old motherland’ wants some of what one of its former colonies, Us/Canada, already has:

1) UCC rights and

(2) ISPs that act as gateways rather than gatekeepers, either because compelled to be such by either the State or the own volition.

The ‘empire strikes back’, to draw from my postcolonial friends in the academy. And, there’s more still to be had before we get a copyright law fit for ‘these digital times’.

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  1. Paul Jones
    May 24, 2011 at 7:36 am | #1

    Well said.

    It will be interesting to see what the Conservatives introduce in the House as a followup to Bill C-32.

    • May 24, 2011 at 9:06 am | #2

      Absolutely. I’ve heard that the plan is to pretty much reintroduce the bill as it was. Perhaps with some additional pressure and openness on its part, some of the ‘nasty bits’ of the C-32 might yet be left behind.

  2. jciconsult
    May 23, 2011 at 4:27 am | #3

    We must watch the Harper government on this file carefully. Fair use & format change are important for technical progress.

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