Tue 12 Jan 2016 12:28AM

Project: Copyright Reform

MM Matt McGregor Public Seen by 357

With the copyright review coming up this year, it's time for CCANZ to publicly state its position on reform.

Some points suggested so far for a CCANZ statement:
* clarify how waiver of copyright is affected by "moral rights" (Richard B)
* clarify whether/ how copyright apples to databases (Richard B)
* strengthen Fair Dealing/ Fair Use (Richard B)
* embed NZGOAL in copyright law (Anton)
* Tidying up the transitional arrangements for historical photography. (Victoria)
* Add Museums into the Libraries and Archives exceptions (Victoria)
* investigate an orphan works exception for GLAMs (Victoria)
* copyright should be a civil matter, as it has traditionally been, not a criminal one (Strypey)
* copyright should only apply to commercial use (Strypey)


Danyl Strype Tue 10 May 2016 6:13AM

I just finished reading Lessig's 2008 book 'Remix', which includes a number of general principles and specific recommendations for copyright reform, explained under five sections:
* deregulating amateur creativity - "the regulation... of amateur culture... could be avoided most simply by exemting "noncommercial" uses from from the scope of copyright
* clear title - beyond a few years of automatic protection (eg 14 years), copyright interests in a work must be registered (creating an official register of works under copyright and their rights-holders), or the work passes into the public domain
* simplify - follow from the first two points, universally removing whole categories of use and re-use from the scope of copyright
* decriminalize the copy - "The law should not regulate "copies" or "modern reproductions" on their own. It should instead regulate uses - like public distributions of copies of a copyrighted work - that connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster."
* decriminalize file-sharing - "...either by authorizing at least noncommercial file-sharing with taxes to cover a reasonable royalty to the artists whose work is shared,or by authorizing a simple blanket licensing procedure, whereby users could, for a low fee, buy the right to freely file-share."

Lessig is quick to point out that:

"None of these changes would threaten one dime of the existing market for creative work so vigorously defended today by the content industry."

He also makes a point in the book that I'd never considered, but is actually very important. Removing activities from the scope of copyright law, actually liberates rights-holders. Because they no longer have any legal control over those activities, they no longer need to feel obliged to aggressively prosecuting harmless re-use (eg home video of cute toddler dancing to commercial music on TV) to prevent the potential creation precedents, which could be exploited in the legal defence of uses they really do want to stop (commercial sale of bootleg copies passed off as originals). Which brings us to the crux of why copyright is defensible at all; it is about defending commercial companies from each other. Noncommercial users are only getting caught in the crossfire because the government has given these companies legislative sledge hammers for the purpose of cracking bootlegging nuts, and once you have a hammer, every problem starts looking like a nail ;)