Canada’s Election and the Election Copyright Controversies…Were There Any Actual “Winners”?

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Here I am a few days after the Canadian election, sifting through the results, trying to figure out who really won—politically and in terms of the copyright controversies that came out of the campaign. Among the six political parties that contested the election it is pretty hard to find a clear winner except perhaps for the nationalist/separatist party in Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois, which increased its seat count substantially. The Liberals lost 30 seats and a million votes although managing to cling to power, the Conservatives proved to be uninspiring to most of the country and came nowhere close to winning a majority, the New Democrats lost 20 seats and fell from third to fourth party (while seeming to revel in some sort of self-declared victory), the Greens underwhelmed, going from all of two seats to three, and the nascent People’s Party failed to elect even its leader. It was a bitter, divisive campaign with lots of personal attacks, dirty-tricks and mud-slinging. No real winners here. Continue reading “Canada’s Election and the Election Copyright Controversies…Were There Any Actual “Winners”?”

Monarch of All I Survey…Copyright Excepted (What are the Purposes and Limits of Government Copyright?)

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I am monarch of all I survey” is a quote attributed to the English poet William Cowper (1731-1800), and has become a well-known phrase. “All I Survey” was used, for example, by the novelist G.K. Chesterton, for the title of his book of essays in the 1930s. For the purposes of this blog posting, it is going to refer to the charts that land surveyors create when hired by property owners or developers to measure and record land dimensions for purposes of land title. You know, those guys with the rods and little telescopes, furiously writing down compass points and angles. It takes a lot of skill and creativity to produce those charts. After all the on-the-ground measurement is done, the results have to be turned into the charts—at one time paper and now mostly digital—that are relied on for many legal and other purposes. They are almost like works of art. Almost is the operative phrase. An artist can copyright a work of art, but in Canada—according to a recent Supreme Court ruling–a surveyor cannot hold the copyright to a plan or chart that they have produced if that plan has been deposited with the Land Registry Office—as is often required in order to comply with legal requirements attached to the purposes of the survey. Continue reading “Monarch of All I Survey…Copyright Excepted (What are the Purposes and Limits of Government Copyright?)”

Can Copyright Law Protect Indigenous Culture? If Not, What is the Answer?

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This is one of the questions that arose during the recent review of Canada’s Copyright Act by two Parliamentary Committees, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU Committee). Among the issues that Parliamentarians looked at was the issue of indigenous culture and its relationship to copyright law. The fundamental dichotomy between western notions of copyright and indigenous culture relates to a couple of issues; the fact that western copyright is a right asserted by individual creators (for the most part)—joint authorship and collective works are clearly an exception to this rule—and the fact that protection is limited to a set period of time, usually the life of the author plus a period extending from 50 years or more beyond the author’s demise. That may seem like a long period of time, but it is not very long when it comes to protection against misuse or misappropriation of traditional cultural artifacts and expressions. Continue reading “Can Copyright Law Protect Indigenous Culture? If Not, What is the Answer?”

MPA’s Logo Goes Global—Reflecting the Association’s Global Reach

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In an announcement on September 18, the Motion Picture Association-MPA (formerly the Motion Picture Association of America-MPAA) announced that it was rebranding all its regional offices, which in the past have had different names and different logos, with the new identifier MPA-(Region) and the “globe and reel” logo familiar to US audiences. Thus, for example, the MPAA becomes MPA-America. This completes a process that began a few years ago to bring the various MPA offices under one common branding umbrella. As an example, in Canada for many years the association that represents the MPA members (the now five major Hollywood studios with the recent addition of Netflix) was called the CMPDA (Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association), which often led to confusion with the CMPA (Canadian Media Producers Association), an association of producers of Canadian media. A few years ago the CMPDA became MPA-Canada, a much clearer statement of who it was, with its own bilingual (English-French) logo featuring, naturally enough, a maple leaf. Now it will have a unified logo in common with other MPA affiliate organizations. Continue reading “MPA’s Logo Goes Global—Reflecting the Association’s Global Reach”