[discuss] Policy discussion: Compulsory licensing of multimedia.

There is media attention about one of the areas where I have not been
able to speak on behalf of CLUE. Michael Geist has an article in the
Toronto Star today called "The Recording Industry's Digital Strategy Out
of Tune" http://www.digital-copyright.ca/node/3723 which describes both
the DRM and the Levy situation.

Many CLUE members have been opposed to the private copying levy
system entirely, and this will likely increase with the proposal to
increase the existing levy on blank media as well as adding to portable
devices (like iPods, etc) and memory cards.

I have been of a mixed mind on this

What Geist now says is the following:

"While there may be a need for an alternative compensation system for
peer-to-peer file sharing, the private copying levy is ill-suited for
this role since it does not legalize the making available of content on
peer-to-peer systems and the purchase of blank media bears little
relation to P2P activity.

Indeed, there are better solutions out there - levies tied to network
providers make more sense (and are already replicated by cable
television levies for retransmission of content) and there is a need to
cover both peer-to-peer and the non-commercial use of content in
user-generated content."

A related proposal has been made by EFF in the USA:

The question becomes how to make it both effective and voluntary (for
the audience) at the same time. Does it get integrated into the "notice
and notice" system where the levy would be collected by the ISP and
people paying the levy would simply never be hassled by music (and
hopefully other multimedia like movies and television) copyright
holders? The copyright holder would then be told by the ISP that the
customer is paying the levy, and thus there is no infringement. This
would have the side-effect of providing an incentive for the ISPs to
encourage customers to opt-in given they may otherwise have to have an
administrative surcharge for those who aren't paying the levy.

What are the costs if it is made voluntary for the copyright holder?
I think that for multimedia it should be compulsory for non-commercial
distribution and inclusion in non-commercial "user generated content".
It would be too confusing for average Canadians to try to figure out
which works are included and which are not, making such a system likely
to induce massive infringement of those not yet included.

The law already allows a voluntary system for both the copyright
holder and audience to be created. The structures to collect and
distribute such a voluntary levy are already used for things such as CD
reproduction. The only reason that legislators would need to get
involved is if it were to be made compulsory for copyright holders,
audiences, or both.

Given levies are often seen as an alternative to DRM in the minds of
policy makers, can we come up with a policy position from CLUE on this
issue? Currently Canadian law is a mess given there is both levies and
lawsuits, and this needs to be fixed -- the question is, which way (more
lawsuits and DRM, or a new type of levy).

Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant:
Please help us tell the Canadian Parliament to protect our property
rights as owners of Information Technology. Sign the petition!

"The government, lobbied by legacy copyright holders and hardware
manufacturers, can pry my camcorder, computer, home theatre, or
portable media player from my cold dead hands!"
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