All stories relating to copyright
Book links roundup: is U.S. publishing born from piracy, visually impaired Canadians address copyright committee, and more
- Is the U.S. publishing industry built on piracy?
- Visually impaired Canadians address accessibility of print materials at Bill C-11 hearings
- Stephen Colbert rants about The Lorax’s many product tie-ins
- Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson writes a book on the loss of grunge-icon Kurt Cobain
- Yann Martel, Emma Donoghue, and Margaret Atwood make the cut for best opening lines from books
- University of Chicago study ranks being an author as one of the 10 happiest jobs
- Actress Emma Thompson lands a deal with Penguin Young Readers Group to write The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit
- Milan-based publishing house 40K Books caters to short attention spans with digital essays, novelettes, and novellas
- In copyright case between five publisher plaintiffs and Google Books, deadline to agree on a settlement extended to 2012
- Amazon launches online store in Spain, possibly presaging expansion to the Netherlands, Sweden, and India
Quebec’s Writers’ Union, the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains Québécois (UNEQ), is one of three major authors’ groups that filed a lawsuit yesterday against five U.S. universities for copyright infringement, The New York Times reports. The writers’ groups, which include the Authors Guild and the Australian Society of Authors along with eight individual authors, argue that the digital archive known as HathiTrust, a partnership between universities and libraries that houses millions of books and journals, does not respect authors’ rights.
From The NYT:
The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, contends that “by digitizing, archiving, copying and now publishing the copyrighted works without the authorization of those works’ rights holders, the universities are engaging in one of the largest copyright infringements in history.”
The plaintiffs are also concerned with the security of HathiTrust’s files. Rather than seeking damages, authors’ groups are asking that HathiTrust remove their digital collection.
This isn’t the first time the Authors Guild has taken issue with digital books. In 2005, the guild filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Google for its initiative to digitize print texts through Google Books. That case remains unresolved.
The Canadian Conference of the Arts sent leaders of the five federal parties a series of questions pertaining to arts and culture, and have posted the responses on its website. All of the parties responded, except for the Conservatives.
The answers are published without edits, and in a handy table format so you can compare responses. Of particular interest are questions pertaining to the Copyright Modernization Act:
Which elements of Bill C-32 will your party keep, and which elements of the bill will your party remove or change in a new bill to modernize the Copyright Act?
Bloc Québécois: The Bloc Québécois will ensure that the new bill is fair to both creators and consumers. This balance must be achieved, most notably through: an upgraded system for private copying, applying to Mp3 players and other digital music players; reasonable royalties to artists for redistribution of their works; the abolition of the education exemption and fair recognition of the resale rights of visual artists.
The Bloc Québécois is committed to fostering a regime requiring ISPs to pay royalties, which will go towards a fund to pay creators in Quebec who have been harmed due to the illegal downloading of artistic works.
Green Party: The Green Party of Canada strongly supports artists’ rights to guaranteed fair compensation through fair patent and copyright laws. At the same time, we consider the digital lock provision in Bill C-32 to be excessively restrictive in that it will not allow students and journalists to properly create and conduct research.
We will work with the CCA and other stakeholders to sharpen the definition of “educational uses” to find the right balance to give researchers this ability in a manner consistent with a thriving information commons, fair dealing principles, and moral rights.
Liberal Party: Recent studies have shown that Canada’s out-of-date Copyright Act translates into major economic loss (up to $965 million lost last year due to piracy, according to an Ipsos/Oxford economics study) for Canadian creators all across the country; the Liberal Party will thus start working on presenting a modernized copyright act as soon as we form government. Bill C-32, the latest Conservative attempt to modernize copyright, was unbalanced and unfair; a Liberal government will work with all stakeholders to ensure creators rights and their sources of revenues are protected under the Copyright Act.
Digital technology offers many new opportunities, but enjoying content without compensating its creators shouldn’t be among them. A new Liberal government will introduce technology neutral copyright legislation that balances the needs of creators and consumers and reflects the principle that our artists and musicians should be paid for their work. We will stand with Canadian creators as they navigate both the opportunities and challenges of the new digital society.
During the debate on copyright legislation in the last Parliament, it was the Liberal Party that developed a practical solution to providing musicians with compensation through a new private copying compensation fund rather than a levy. A Liberal government will look to develop similarly innovative solutions to ensure that the Copyright Act protects creators’ existing and future rights and revenue streams in a digital age. Likewise, the Liberal party believes that any exception under fair dealings must be clearly defined with a clear and strict test for fair use so that creators are fairly compensated for their work.
NDP: In reviewing Bill C-32, New Democrats would closely examine a number of key issues contained in the proposed legislation, including (but not limited to) ISP liability, Technological Protection Measures (TPMs, or so-called “digital locks”), statutory damages, private copying and reproduction for private purposes, broadcast mechanical licensing and fair dealing.
In order to arrive at an equilibrium between the interests of rights-holders and those of consumers, New Democrats would likely begin developing new copyright laws, beginning by consulting widely with stakeholder groups with the aim of creating a legislation that is – unlike C-32 – truly technology-neutral, balanced and flexible enough to ensure its adaptability to new platforms and technologies in the years to come. We would also determine definitively Canada’s obligations as a signatory to various international treaties governing copyright and intellectual property.
And when you’re done reading all the responses, reward yourself with a visit to vintagevoter.ca.
Tonight is the first televised leadership debate of the federal election. It’s unlikely arts and culture will be mentioned, so here’s a primer on how all parties (including the Green Party) stand on issues that impact the publishing industry. Here’s a summary of points, taken directly from each platform:
- Ensure that the federal government increases its support for our culture and contributes to its development
- We will provide ongoing support for the Canada Periodical Fund to support the distribution of publications to Canadians, while providing long-term, stable program funding
- A Stephen Harper-led majority Government will also reintroduce and pass the Copyright Modernization Act, a key pillar in our commitment to make Canada a leader in the global digital economy. This balanced, common-sense legislation recognizes the practical priorities of teachers, students, artists, families, and technology companies, among others, while aligning Canada with international standards. It respects both the rights of creators and the interests of consumers. It will ensure that Canada’s copyright law will be responsive in a fast-changing digital world, while protecting and creating jobs, promoting innovation, and attracting investment to Canada
- Increase funding to all of Canada’s arts and culture organizations including The Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, orchestras, theatres and publishers. The goal will be to make increases in this sector commensurate with increases in support over the years for other sectors of the economy such as transport, the auto industry, health care, and the oil and gas industry
- Restore and improve arm’s length principles in the governance of arts and cultural institutions and agencies under the federal jurisdiction. In keeping with such a position, we believe that the heads of Canada’s cultural organizations such as the CRTC, Canada Council, CBC, and Telefilm Canada should not be appointed by the political party in power but by an arm’s length committee made up of competent people representative of the various diverse stakeholders in Canadian society
- Increase support for community arts programs and facilities across Canada by establishing stable base-funding at a set percentage of the federal budget
- Equalize federal funding for Arts and Culture among provinces, territories, and municipalities to make it consistent with the provinces and municipalities that have the highest current standards
- Provide incentives to all provinces and territories to restore and improve arts and culture components to schools and extra-curricular activities not only in urban but also in rural areas
- Extend income tax relief and incentives to artists (on the very successful models established by Ireland and the city of Berlin). Doing so will: encourage artists to settle in Canada and build businesses here; result in other (usually) white collar “clean” industries that follow the arts jobs and dollars; help to provide meaningful jobs to university and college graduates;enrich schools and their offerings thereby attracting immigrants to settle in rural areas; revitalize and discover talent in communities where traditional industries are declining and young people are leaving
- Follow and implement recommendations of Canadian Conference of the Arts in order to enable artists to access various social programs including Employment Insurance, Worker’s Compensation, and Canada Pension Plan
- Change the Canada Revenue Act to allow arts and culture workers to benefit from a tax averaging plan that will take into account the fact that lean years often precede and follow the good year when a show is produced, a book is published and a grant or a prize is won
- Protect Canada’s cultural identity during trade negotiations
- The Canada Council for the Arts is a major force in supporting working artists. A Liberal government will significantly increase support for Canadian artists and creators by doubling the annual budget of the Canada Council for the Arts, from $180 million to $360 million over the next four years
- A Liberal government will also restore the PromArt and Trade Routes cultural promotion programs, increasing their funding to $25 million. These programs play an important role in bringing Canadian culture to the world and increasing our exports. The new annual funding will help to create a domestic tours program as well
- Digital technology offers many new opportunities, but enjoying content without compensating its creators shouldn’t be among them. At the same time, consumers should have freedom for personal use of digital content they rightfully possess. Liberals have worked to pass effective copyright legislation, including a private copying compensation fund instead of any new tax on consumers
- We will promote the production and broadcast of Canadian content on Canadian television and in Canadian theatres, and will strongly support Canada’s performing arts, cultural institutions, and creators
- We will ensure Canadian TV and telecom networks remain Canadian-owned by maintaining effective regulations on foreign ownership
- We will increase public funding for the Canada Council and implement tax averaging for artists and cultural workers
- We will explore the creation of a new international arts touring fund to replace the now-defunct Trade Routes and PromArt programs
- We will develop a digital online culture service to broaden access to Canadian content
- We will introduce a bill on copyright reform to ensure that Canada complies with its international treaty obligations, while balancing consumers’ and creators’ rights
As Canadians head to the polls on May 2, Q&Q looks at key federal policies affecting the publishing industry. Stay tuned for upcoming features on federal funding, mass digitization, and foreign-ownership regulations.
After nearly a year of parliamentary hearings and heavy industry lobbying, Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act, succumbed to a sudden death on March 26, when the latest Canadian federal election was called.
For nearly a decade, publishers, authors, and other content creators have lived without a copyright act that takes into account the realities of a digital economy. Bill C-32 was the federal government’s third attempt to update the legislation. To get a sense of how outdated Canada’s current laws are, the last copyright reform, passed in 1997, instituted a levy on cassette tapes. It will now be up to the new government to table yet another copyright bill — and successfully get it passed for there to be meaningful reform.
As Canadians head to the polls once again on May 2, Q&Q spoke to several publishing copyright advocates about the lessons learned from Bill C-32.
- Canada lands on the International Intellectual Property Alliance’s priority watch list as “haven” for international piracy organizations
- All-nighter term papers just got a lot trickier: design flaw at University of Calgary’s new state-of-the-art library leaves book stacks off-limits until end of summer
- Saudia Arabian book club’s discussion of Blink a sign of impending youth revolt?
- Authors’ #whyIwrite hashtag trends on Twitter
- Funny or Die will launch publishing arm this summer. Fingers crossed for tell-all memoir by Pearl the landlord
It can be a little tricky staying on top of the latest in new and social media these days. A few hours at PodCamp Toronto this weekend could be time well-spent in figuring out how to make better use of these tools for your business.
On Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 at Ryerson University, the self-described “unconference” will bring together hundreds of professional and amateur Web content producers and online community-builders – writers, bloggers, digital publishers, e-commerce professionals, Web designers, photographers, and podcasters among them. The event has dozens of free sessions, a number of which might be of interest to publishing professionals. Saturday is particularly meaty, with presentations on copyright and social media, social media trends for business, the legalities of blog advertising, online reputation management, core messaging, plus a roundtable on e-book trends, and a panel discussion on community management (a.k.a. online customer service). The schedule is available at the PodCamp Toronto 2011 website. Though the conference is free, there is a registration process.
Last year’s event attracted nearly 900 participants. A video archive of sessions from 2010 is available here.
A Nova Scotia sailor and writer is suing Warner Bros. for allegedly plagiarizing his novel, Fandango’s Gold, for their 2008 Matthew McConaughey/Kate Hudson vehicle Fool’s Gold.
In a statement of claim filed in federal court last week, Lou Boudreau maintains that writer-director Andy Tennant’s screenplay shares “uncanny” similarities with Boudreau’s book, written in 1999. Fandango’s Gold, based on the author’s real-life experience as a diver and fisherman, was registered with the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia and published in 2006 by Tiller Publishing, a Maryland-based press specializing in nautical books.
The claim doesn’t specify the amount Boudreau is seeking in damages, though he says he’s entitled to the same cut afforded to the screenwriter of the film, which made over $300 million.
From Halifax’s The Chronicle-Herald:
In his statement of claim, Boudreau says his manuscript ended up in the hands of movie industry insiders, particularly in California, because he spent about five years between 1999 and 2004 promoting it.
In an interview… Boudreau said Fandango’s Gold starts out as the tale of a Spanish sailor on a galleon laden with gold sailing for Spain. It runs into a hurricane and is wrecked on a remote atoll in the Caribbean. The crew carries the treasure ashore and hides it in an underground cave with a passage to the sea.
In his statement of claim, Boudreau lists pages of similarities between his book and the film. They include the two romantic leads looking for the galleon’s treasure, the female lead being taken hostage by the bad guys, and the lead characters finding the treasure in an underground cave and swimming through an underwater tunnel to safety.
Boudreau is wading into risky waters – many an author has taken on big U.S. production companies and filmmakers, and the results haven’t necessarily been favourable. (Remember when Rebecca Eckler took on Judd Apatow in 2007?) In the end, Boudreau says he has to stand up for his work and his “moral rights.”
“I’m the little schooner captain from Cape Breton and they are Warner Bros. Therein lies the great inequity,” he told The Chronicle-Herald. “It’s important for me because I wrote this book. It was very personal to me.”