Access Copyright tells Canadian gov't: no home TV recording, no ripping music, no moving old ebooks to new readers

Access Copyright, the Canadian organisation that collects library royalties for writers, filed a jaw-droppingly dumb set of comments in the Canadian Copyright consultation. Access Copyright came out as opposing the right to record TV shows at home, and the right to "format shift" your media (e.g., load a CD on your MP3 player, or put an old ebook on a new reader or phone). They also say that almost all commercial use, no matter how trivial, should require a license and not fall under fair dealing. They come out against the interlibrary loan system, because it is digital.

Man, if these yahoos set out to destroy the public's faith in copyright, they could not do a better job than they're doing now. Yeesh.

The so-called format and time shifting exceptions, also known as personal use exceptions, were apparently included in Bill C-61 to address a practice that has become common among the public. Access Copyright submits that good public policy should not be dictated by legalizing common public practices.

It is worth mentioning here that Article 5(2)(b) of the EU Directive 2001/29/EC allows member states to introduce exceptions and limitations to the reproduction right for private use (which includes format and time shifting) "on the condition that rightsholders receive fair compensation". The requirement for fair compensation is to ensure that the private use exception complies with the three-step test.

Access Copyright believes that copyright owners should be given the opportunity to address these "common practices" through market-based solutions. We caution against the assumption that uses made by individuals for their personal use are inconsequential on the existing or potential market for a work. Format shifting for example is relatively new to printed works. Copyright owners should be given time to develop and test new services and business models for the delivery of content in the digital environment. The introduction of a format shifting exception for books could undermine the development of emerging business models. At the very least, the government should ensure that any restriction of the copyright owner's reproduction right be accompanied by fair compensation.

Access Copyright: Reduce Fair Dealing, No Taping TV Shows or Format Shifting


  1. The Canadian government just has to decide that fair compensation for a time-shifted or format-shifted work is zero dollars. Problem solved.

  2. What a bunch of well-intentioned albeit deluded and ignorant frickin’ morons. As a Canadian writer I am stunned and embarrassed by their comments. They neither represent the true needs of creators nor reflect the reality we are now living in. Excuse me now whilst I go back to pounding my head against the desk and mutter: “What the fuck were they thinking?!”

    1. Next time try the corner of the table. It feels even better when you quit. And I thought we had an overabundance of self-righteous uninformed morons here in the US.

  3. “Access Copyright submits that good public policy should not be dictated by legalizing common public practices.”

    Obviously good public policy is *criminalizing* common public practices.

  4. Not to diminish from the point of the post, simply to clarify one point:

    Access Copyright, the Canadian organisation that collects library royalties for writers…

    I believe the Public Lending Right Commission is responsible for library royalties. Access Copyright seems to be related to collecting fees for the “right” to(photo)copy copyrighted material.

    From PLRC’s website:

    The mandate of the Public Lending Right Commission is to recognize the significant contribution that Canada’s authors make to its national culture by compensating authors for the presence of their published work in Canada’s public libraries.

    From AC’s website:

    Our licences give content users immediate, legal access to the copyright protected materials they need to copy from to get their jobs done, while ensuring that creators and publishers are fairly compensated when their works are copied.

  5. The last time I wrote my MP about copyright I stated that I felt one of the aims of Parliament should be to pass laws that won’t be laughed at by the population. Apparently these folks didn’t get that memo.

    People like my parents are pretty happy right now not caring about copyright issues. But if you tell my mom that she video tape shows she wants to time shift nor use the brand new PVR box she hasn’t even figured out how to hook up yet, she might start caring.

  6. Thanks for the correction.

    I find it adds light/irony to the discussion when you realize they are petitioning against “format shifting” because it is their business model that hasn’t had time to adapt to newer forms of format shifting. Photocopying is a format shift, is it not?

  7. I can foresee a future in which many consumers will flat-out refuse to listen/view/read things heavily laden in copyright. Between the protection attempts causing the material to become inaccessible, and the constant threat of punishment for not understanding the multiple and Byzantine copyright laws of various countries, it is possible a lot of consumers will just throw up their hands and decide to instead consume the (often superior ;)) Creative Copyright licensed media and similarly unencumbered works.

  8. I cant (really don’t want to) imagine a world with laws and rules that were totally shaped by these people.. ugh.

  9. “The introduction of a format shifting exception for books could undermine the development of emerging business models.”

    They’re right. Format shifting DOES undermine the “emerging business model” of selling us the same book over and over again every time we buy a new device.


  10. “I can foresee a future in which many consumers will flat-out refuse to listen/view/read things heavily laden in copyright.”

    No, they’ll just ignore the ridiculous constraints. Sort of like how EULAs are treated.

  11. “We caution against the assumption that uses made by individuals for their personal use are inconsequential on the existing or potential market for a work.”

    That’s a great statement, Access Copyright, but I caution against the assumption that consumers want to or even should have to pay for the same “content” (your term, not mine) more than once just because the technology and preferred media format changes every few years.

  12. So does that mean we can maybe arrest them in a year or so for owning VCR/ PVR/ what have you?

    Of course you can’t make a law against something everyone does. Shall we make a 20km/h speed limit for all roads across the country because it’s safer? It’s just as enforceable I think.

    1. It’s not about making things illegal, it’s about instituting LICENSING FEES. And by fees I mean RECURRENT FEES. That way everybody can pay for things over and over again, whether they use them or not. And pay -dearly-.

      Because if there’s one thing worth giving money to over and over again, it’s the power structure of the establishment. And if you don’t believe that, you really should let them continue convincing you.

  13. These people are idiots.

    Let’s just assume, for a moment, that all the draconian laws that people like this could be passed. We’d be nickel-and-dimed every time we time-shift a TV show, or use an interlibrary loan, or need to move content from one device or format to another. Further, internet monitoring and blocking prevents anyone from using circumvention. There’s no recourse.

    Do they actually think people are going to be able to afford culture anymore? People are going to read less books, listen to less music, get invested less often in ongoing TV shows. It’s just too expensive, unless you make a serious hobby out of it. Why should I buy an album by a group I’ve never heard of? What if it’s bad? I’ve wasted part of my “culture budget” for the month.

    These stunted ignorami can’t see far enough past their next 25¢ royalty cheque to realize that if they just embraced technology, they could sell content to more people, and bypass the publishers and media companies that are taking the biggest slice of their profits.

    How shortsighted and stupid; stay out of politics and stick to writing crappy romance novels.

    1. @GeekMan:

      These stunted ignorami are the publishers and media companies that are taking the biggest slice of [artist’s] profits.

      1. Indeed. But they always manage to find some misguided artists to be their mouthpieces. As a former music composer I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to argue with those types of people.

  14. Pathetic, really. I know, however, how the public gat fight back – whenever you hear a song, read a book or watch a show that you don’t like – stop immediately and contact the copyright owner to ask to be compensated for your wasted time.

  15. When I pay for content I only pay for it once. If buying that content just “grants a non-exclusive license” they shouldn’t care where I use it as long as I’m the one using it.

    These guys are continuing to apply old methods to new problems. Reality is that distribution costs are lower than they used to be and while piracy may be higher, sales are too.

  16. bets on how long it takes these guys to figure out that their rules would prevent content creators from creating anything by means of which all might happily line their pockets.

    seriously. how much of what is published nowadays is ‘original’, from beginning to end? how many authors will have the patience to track down everyone from whom they will need permission to write something that might or *might not* sell?

    i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again. these people are ignorant, stupid, and don’t know how to think a thing through if it extends past their navel.

  17. Here’s the problem (at least in Canada, where I live and work): contracts trump statutory rights. So if you sign Access Copyright’s ludicrous ‘photocopy license’, you give up (yes, GIVE UP) your right to Fair Dealing interpretations under the Canadian Copyright Act. Unfortunately, too many people have been swayed by AC’s bullshit and have bought the notion that they have to post the ‘green sheet’ beside all their photocopiers so that teachers know what they are ‘allowed’ to copy for classroom use. Not only is it a waste of money to pay these license fees, but it actually REDUCES one’s rights, rather than increasing them. The best thing I can advise people is to wait until your license expires, and never renew it. Ever. Those bandits need to be shut down, pronto!

  18. Not to comment on the statements made by Access Copyright, but just to clarify, the board of Access Copyright is comprised of both authors and publishers in equal numbers. Nine of each, I think.

  19. Are they just adding some really over-the-top quotes with the hope that the less controversial ones just get lost in the noise and passed without question?

  20. …You know how to put an end to it? The same way that the commoners in Englandland did it before they got representation in Parliament: you show up at the house of each of these morons, and you burn it to the ground with them in it. After about three or four of these “expressions of discontent”, they’ll get the message that they need to accept that piracy can’t be stopped, and to live with what they do get in the way of income.

  21. Robbo, there are no good intentions in the CPC. They’ve lied about everything, done away with or slashed any program that benefitted regular folk while giving every industry lobby known to mankind whatever they want, and are the worst fiscal managers we’ve ever seen, yet they’re headed for majority territory in the polls.

    Next week we’ll lose the digital farm, and most of us won’t have gotten off our complacent arses long enough to even write a few letters to MPs and party leaders. Maybe we’re just too stupid to have good copyright policy.

  22. I believe they are laying down demands that are so high that anything that is remotely near what they wanted will be good enough.

  23. I read this after reading a report on the absolutely draconian international ACTA proposal. I’d already decided never to purchase e-books after the Amazon/1984 deletion fiasco, and I’m quickly getting to the point where I’m going to abandon all Internet and digital media period, except for e-mail (and I’m sure someone will try and put in some sort of copyright rule for that too). I don’t tend to overreact, but I honestly do see things like Access Copyright’s proposals and ACTA as being a death knell for the Internet and for progress. We’re going to be reverting to the 1970s when we only saw TV shows when the networks wanted us to see them, and our books and magazines were read on a single medium – paper.

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