Copyright, Folklore and Traditional Native Culture

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I recently came back from a wonderful vacation with my wife in New Mexico. This is a spectacular part of the US for art lovers, as well as for those interested in nature and history. Santa Fe seems to have more art museums than gas stations, ranging from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Institute of American Indian Arts and many others. There are private galleries galore, and many native vendors selling art. The art scene, which first achieved prominence in the 1920’s, extends to other centres as well, such as Taos, Abiqiui, and a number of native “pueblos”. (If this sounds like an unsolicited plug for New Mexico as a place to visit, it is). Continue reading “Copyright, Folklore and Traditional Native Culture”

Girl Guides of Canada Oppose Copyright Term Extension! What Next?

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Who among us has not purchased the ubiquitous Girl Guide cookies (aka Girl Scout cookies in the USA), available outside a supermarket or in a mall of your choice every spring. Even if you are not a fan of this particular version of the oreo cookie, one takes satisfaction from knowing that the money is going to a good cause. The Girl Guides (or Girl Scouts) is a great organization, dedicated–according to the website of the Girl Guides of Canada (GGC)–to making a “positive difference in the life of every girl and woman who experiences Guiding so she can contribute responsibly to her communities.” Its mission is to enable girls “to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world”. These are laudable goals, and one would expect that money provided to the Guides through cookie sales or direct donation would go directly to support programs for girls. Thus it was with some degree of surprise that I learned that at least some of the money raised goes for political causes that are not exactly central to Guiding, such as lobbying the Parliament of Canada to oppose any extension to the term of copyright protection. Continue reading “Girl Guides of Canada Oppose Copyright Term Extension! What Next?”

YouTube and the Music Value Gap

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Canadian musician, songwriter, boutique record label owner and music festival organizer  Miranda Mulholland made quite a splash with her cri de coeur address to the Economic Club of Canada in late May about the challenges facing performers in today’s digital world. Kate Taylor, entertainment columnist for the Globe and Mail who moderated the Economic Club event, in her article “What happens when we starve our artists”, strongly sympathized with Mulholland’s argument that musicians are being shortchanged by the digital distribution model. Mulholland took particular aim at YouTube; Continue reading “YouTube and the Music Value Gap”

WannaCry and China: Will This Finally Lead to Real Action against Software Piracy in China? (And bring an end to copyright enforcement with “Chinese characteristics”?)

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China was hit hard, very hard, by the recent WannaCry ransomware attack. Of course, government institutions and businesses world-wide suffered from the virus but it seems that China was disproportionally affected. China has a huge online population, which may be one factor explaining the widespread impact of the attack. According to media reports citing data from the China Internet Network Information Center, China’s internet users (or “netizens” to use a favoured English-language adaptation in China) totalled 731 million at the end of 2016, an increase of over 40 million from a year earlier. But the attack was directed more at institutions than individuals. The New York Times reported that over 40,000 institutions and companies in China were affected including major universities, airlines, railway stations, gas stations and social media outlets. Continue reading “WannaCry and China: Will This Finally Lead to Real Action against Software Piracy in China? (And bring an end to copyright enforcement with “Chinese characteristics”?)”