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Mar11th

2013

March 11, 2013 @ 06:00:00
New Section 30.02 (Digital Reproduction of Works) - Good or Bad?
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The new Copyright Act adds a new section 30.02 that virtually equates digital reproduction of works to photocopying (i.e. reprographic reproduction) for educational institutions.

The general idea is that if an educational institution has a license to make photocopies of works, then the institution may also make digital reproductions of these works and communicate such reproductions by telecommunication for an educational or training purpose.

The person who received such digital reproduction of a work is allowed to print one copy of it.

The educational institution is required to pay to the collective society the same license fees as in the case of the conventional photocopying license and to take steps to prevent unauthorized dissemination of the digital reproduction of the work.

Copyright owners whose rights are represented by a collective society that is authorized to grant licenses to photocopy these authors’ works may refuse to authorize the collective society to enter into digital reproduction agreements with respect to their works, but the default rule is that such permission is deemed to be granted.

Based on the provisions of paragraphs 30.02(4)(a) and 30.02(4)(b), it appears that this section will be of lesser importance once separate tariffs for digital reproduction have been certified.

This section also severely limits the remedies for unauthorized use of the works.

Because copyright owners at least have an opportunity to opt out from the application of this section, I would be happy with it if not for two issues:

First, I do not understand the reasoning behind curtailing the remedies of copyright owners in case their rights are infringed beyond what the exception has already taken away from them; and

Second, I would prefer some clarification as to how this new section is supposed to coexist with the addition of the word “education” to section 29 of the Act.

Speaking of the latter, I am getting many calls and emails with questions about whether this or that use can be justified under the “education” exception. Some are very creative in trying to justify what appears to be blatant copyright infringement under the pretense of having educational purposes.

If specific sections of the Copyright Act are meant to limit the application of s. 29 in that educational purposes are limited to those specific instances that are listed elsewhere in the Act, then the problem is of a much smaller caliber (albeit I still disapprove of the expansion of so-called “user rights”). If, on the other hand, s. 29 is to stand on its own in addition to all these specific instances then we are about to open the Pandora’s box.

BOTTOM LINE: Time will tell.

PS. The new Section 30.03 deals with tariffs. In a language whose clarity is only superior to that of the Income Tax Act, an attempt is made to specify what happens if a new tariff is introduced for digital reproduction or if the educational institution enters into an agreement that specifically deals with digital reproduction. The new section 30.03 is supposed to make it clear what happens with the license fees that the educational institution was paying under s. 30.02. The new section 30.03 may contain an answer to this question, but make it clear it does not...

Categories:Intellectual Property:Copyright
Additional Tags:New Copyright Act

Feb20th

2013

February 20, 2013 @ 19:50:00
Seminar at NYIT
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On February 13, 2013, I delivered a seminar on intellectual property at the New York Institute of Technology in Vancouver.

Great to see so many aspiring students with lit-up eyes who came to learn about IP.

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Categories:Intellectual Property:CopyrightIntellectual Property
 Values:Passion

Jan14th

2013

January 14, 2013 @ 06:00:00
New Section 30.01 (Unauthorized Use In Lessons) - Good Or Bad?
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The new Canadian Copyright Act introduces a concept that is novel to world copyright laws. More unjustified exceptions are now recognized in respect of a “lesson”.

A “lesson” is defined as a “lesson, test or examination” (or a part of a lesson, test or examination), in or during which an educational institution or a person acting under its authority does what would be considered an infringement of copyright, but is permitted under one of the numerous limitations or exceptions.

In other words, these are the elements of the definition:

1. a work (or other subject-matter) must be used in or during a lesson, test or examination;

2. the work (or other subject-matter) must be used by an educational institution or a person under its authority;

3. the use of the work (or other subject-matter) must be an infringement of copyright (except for limitations or exceptions contained in the Act);

4. there must exist exceptions or limitations in the Act that would permit the use of the work (or other subject-matter).

In other words, nothing is a “lesson” unless it involves unauthorized use of a work (or other subject-matter) justified under an exception or a limitation. In the attempt to be overly inclusive, the legislator has created a catch 22: Section 30.01 sets out an exception that only applies in respect of a work (or other subject-matter) that by definition would be infringed by the educational institution if not for the fact that such use is somehow already “permitted under a limitation or exception under the Copyright Act.

Here is the question, if the use is already excused or justified through a different exception or limitation, what is the added benefit of Section 30.01? On the other hand, would exceptions and limitations set out in the Section 30.01 count towards the “exceptions and limitations” referred to in the definition? Based on the rules of statutory interpretation, they shouldn’t. But again – if they don’t, what is the purpose of Section 30.01?

In my post on Section 29.4 of the Copyright Act, I already questioned the interrelationship of the amended s. 29.4 and the new s. 30.01. Section 29.4 is so broad that I cannot see why anyone would ever want to use s. 30.01.

Things get even more convoluted with subsection 30.01(2), which states that Section 30.01 does not apply so as to permit reproduction, conversion of non-dramatic works into dramatic works and conversion of dramatic works into non-dramatic works, if such use of the works would infringe copyright. Again, the definition of “lesson” already states that the use must be permitted through a limitation or exception under the Act. If no such limitation or exception exists, the “lesson, test or examination” during which the work is used would not be a “lesson” under the definition of Section 30.01. If it’s not a “lesson”, then s. 30.01(2) is redundant. On the other hand, if s. 30.01(2) is not redundant, then we run into the problem with the definition.

Subsequent subsections don’t make things any clearer.

Subsection (3) sets out that a fixation of a “lesson” for the purpose of its communication to the public by telecommunication for educational or training purposes is not an infringement of copyright. Again, if fixation and communication of a work included in a “lesson, test or examination” is not permitted under a limitation or exception under the Act, then the lesson, test or examination do not constitute a “lesson”. In this case, Section 30.01(3) would not apply. If such use of a work is already permitted, then there is hardly any additional benefit in restating that the permission is valid for the use of the work as part of the “lesson”. Moreover, if the use of a work is already permitted, there is no reason why educational institutions should consider themselves limited with the additional conditions set out in the follow-up provisions of Section 30.01.

Subsection (5) allows a student who has access to a “lesson” through telecommunication to reproduce it in order to watch it and listen to it at a more convenient time, but the student must destroy all copies not later than 30 days after the student received the final course evaluation.

Subsection (6) requires that the educational institution take reasonable measures to limit access to the “lesson” to students only and then destroy all fixations of a lesson 30 days after the students received their final course evaluation.

BOTTOM LINE: Besides incomprehensible wording of this Section 30.01, a larger question remains: WHY is it OK to use protected works in “lessons”, to fixate and to communicate the lessons containing works used without permission?

To me, this is a poorly drafted arbitrary decision based on an out-of-place compromise.

Categories:Intellectual Property:Copyright
Additional Tags:New Copyright Act

Nov14th

2012

November 14, 2012 @ 09:00:00
Changes to Section 29.6 of the Copyright Act (Use of News by Educational Institutions) - Good Or Bad?
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Until recent amendments, educational institutions were already permitted to make single copies of news programs and news commentary programs and to perform such copies before the students. This exception used to be subject to an important limitation: it was only good for one year after the copy was made. After the expiration of the one year period, the educational institutions had a choice of either destroying the copy or paying royalties for its continued use.

Not anymore.

The amended Copyright Act removes these limitations and allows educational institutions to make and use such copies at any time without paying royalties.

BOTTOM LINE: This amendment will streamline the way educational institutions use recordings of news broadcasts. They no longer have to keep track of whether the recording was made more than a year ago.

By itself, this could be regarded as a positive step.

However, taken together with the rest of the amendments vastly expanding the legalized unauthorized use of works protected by copyright, Canada is finding itself more and more testing the boundaries of its obligation under the Berne Convention, which requires that any exceptions to the exclusive right of copyright owners to reproduce their works be subject to three limitations:

1. the exception may only be permitted in certain special cases;

2. unauthorized use must not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work; and

3. unauthorized use must not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the copyright owner.

Instead of carefully carving out situations where an exception would make it easier to use protected works without hurting the interests of copyright owners, Canada is taking the road of thwarting the interests of copyright owners under the guise of serving the interests of the public and in the name of mythical “user rights”.

The changes to this particular section will likely have a miniscule effect on the market for news programs, but the general trend is threatening. How long will it be until we face a situation masterfully described in “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand:

    ”All patents and copyrights, pertaining to any devices, inventions, formulas, processes and works of any nature whatsoever, shall be turned over to the nation as a patriotic emergency gift by means of Gift Certificates to be signed voluntarily by the owners of all such patents and copyrights. The Unification Board shall then license the use of such patents and copyrights to all applicants, equally and without discrimination, for the purpose of eliminating monopolistic practices, discarding obsolete products and making the best available to the whole nation.”

Categories:Intellectual Property:Copyright
Additional Tags:New Copyright Act

Nov12th

2012

November 12, 2012 @ 22:07:27
Expansion of the Scope of Exemption in Section 29.5 of the Copyright Act (Performances By Educational Institutions) - Good Or Bad?
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The new Canadian Copyright Act has a clarified and expanded section 29.5 relating to performances made or authorized by educational institutions.

The former version of the Copyright Act contained a closed list of three instances when educational institutions could perform protected works without first obtaining permission from the copyright owner. They could (1) arrange live performances of protected works by their students; (2) play back sound recordings; and (3) organize public showings of broadcasts.

The new version does two things.

On the one hand, with respect to the playback of sound recordings, it limits the exception to legitimate sound recordings only. The added wording in the Act is “as long as the sound recording is not an infringing copy or the person responsible for the performance has no reasonable grounds to believe that it is an infringing copy.”

On the other hand, the new version adds another instance which will now be excused under this exception, namely it allows educational institutions to also demonstrate movies, as long as they use a legitimate copy to do it.

Copyright is a bundle of rights, and just because you buy a legitimate copy of a sound recording or a movie, does not give you the right to invite the public and conduct public demonstrations or listening parties. This is a separate right that has just been taken away from the copyright owners in favour of educational institutions.

BOTTOM LINE: One arbitrary construction has just been replaced by another arbitrary construction. The former version of the Act allowed some unauthorized acts which did not cover cinematographic works, while the new version further extends to such unauthorized use as well. Just as there was no moral or legal reasons to exclude cinematographic works from the application of the exception, there are no moral or legal reasons to include them now.

In my opinion, the real problem is not that educational institutions are going to impoverish copyright owners by not paying royalties for the use of their works, performances, sound recordings and broadcasts. The real problem is that students who attend these educational institutions are receiving the message that it’s ok to use copyrighted works without asking permission and without paying royalties. They are given a life lesson that copyright owners are a hindrance that a bunch of politicians and activist law professors gloriously help them overcome. These students will grow to expect to be entitled to use other people’s intellectual property whenever they feel like it – simply because it benefits them and the “public”.

This, I maintain, is the true reason why activist professors are so adamant about the education exceptions. They know that one day, some of the students will be the new politicians who will gladly pick up where the current generation has left off the Copyright Act and create more new exceptions – to further spread this sense of entitlement.

It’s a vicious circle, if you ask me.

Categories:Intellectual Property:Copyright
Additional Tags:New Copyright Act
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