Canada clears the smoke on copyrights issues

Downloading copyrighted music
from peer-to-peer networks is now officially legal in Canada, although uploading
files is not, Canadian copyright regulators said in a ruling released
Friday. The Copyright Board said uploading or distributing copyrighted
works online “appeared to be prohibited” under current Canadian law. So it is a
hollow victory for the consumer and P2P programs.


It gets worse, the Copyright Board of Canada
imposed a government fee (surprise!) of as much as $ 25 on iPod-like MP3
players, putting the devices in the same category as audio tapes and blank CDs.
The money collected from affected “recording mediums” goes into a fund
to reimburse musicians and songwriters for lost sales due to consumers’
personal copying. It is the manufacturers responsibility to pay the fees
and they will often pass the cost on to consumers.


However,
the country’s copyright law does allow making a copy for personal use and
does not address the source of that copy or whether the original has to be
an authorized or noninfringing version, the board said.


Under those laws, certain
media are designated as appropriate for making personal copies of music,
and producers pay a per-unit fee into a pool designed to compensate
musicians and songwriters. Most audio tapes and CDs, and now MP3 players,
are included in that category. Other mediums, such as DVDs, are not deemed
appropriate for personal copying.


Computer hard drives have
never been reviewed under that provision, however. In its decision Friday,
the board decided to allow personal copies on a hard drive until a fee
ruling is made specifically on that medium or until the courts or
legislature tell regulators to rule otherwise.


“Until such time, as a
decision is made on hard drives, for the time being, (we are ruling) in
favor of consumers,” Majeau said.


We can all surmise the final outcome of that legal
wrangling. Doesn’t it seem strange that governments will set up
and administer a fund for a select industry? Who gets paid and how much,
how is it known what has been copied, how can it be done fairly for each artist?
Does Elvis get more than the Nylons? Who does not get “reimbursed”, how
is this determined? What percentage finally makes it to the artist? How
much is eaten up by the government and music industry bureaucracy?


But the real question is, should we have to pay the
artist (translation: labels) to make a backup copy of material we already own?
With equipment that we had to buy in order to protect our investment, because
the labels (other than CDBaby)
won’t replace damaged product?


You can discuss matters such as these in our Music Downloads, P2P and Legal Issues
Forum
.

Source: CNet