[d@DCC] Creators' Rights Alliance AGM
russell at flora.ca
Thu May 22 22:19:55 EDT 2003
I spent the afternoon at the CRA's AGM. It is being held in Ottawa with
today being at the National Art Center, and tomorrow at the Lord Elgin
For those that do not know about CRA, their website is at:
This is a group that has Susan Crean as co-president. Susan is someone
which I have gotten to know well since the March copyright consultation
last year, and had an opportunity to 'debate' with via
http://www.rabble.ca/rumble/ as well as the Ministers Forum on Copyright
<http://weblog.flora.ca/article.php3?story_id=395> . It was Susan that
invited me to the meeting.
While our community (by this I am suggesting the Free/Libre and Open
Source Software creator community) may not see the connection at this
point, it is great to get creator communities together. We each have much
in common, even if some of the debates make it seem like we are on polar
It is important to recognize that while we have our differences, we have
a few villains like Jack Valenti in common. Once we each stop thinking
that Jack Valenti represents the interests of the other group (rather than
the reality of him representing an extreme special interest intermediary
group that is opposed to creators interests), we can begin to work
When speaking to one of the folks from Heritage Copyright Policy Branch
that was there, I gave a new analogy I have started to use:
Copyright is like water to creators: too little and you will dehydrate
and die; too much and you will drown and die.
We do have a very critical balance to seek to protect our interests,
and we need to all clearly understand the huge wave coming out of the USA
(primarily) that seeks to drown creators.
Quick rundown of the presentations - these are from my rough notes and
impressions and should not be taken as quotes from any of these people.
(reader beware, blah, blah, blah).
- Panel: The TRIPs and Moral Rights:
- Daniel Gervais Professor of Law, University of Ottawa
He spoke about the international context of the copyright consultations.
Spoke of how moral rights are often put aside, with the US presenting an
extreme opposing position called "Contractual Rights" which in Orwellian
double-speak is what most of us would call "work for hire".
Interesting to hear more of the history and differences between UN/WIPO
and WTO/TRIPs. Within WIPO moral rights are recognized as WIPO treaties
followed from Berne Convention which (theoretically, and at that time) was
written by creators, for creators. TRIPs is just a subset of the issues
of interest to creators as it only relates to creation for the purpose of
During the question period Dan explained some of the historical context
to copyright that I had not heard before. Traditionally there were two
major constituencies, professional "creators" associations and
professional "distribution" associations. It is suggested that as we move
to media such as the Internet which is not so centrally controlled, that
this model falls down.
Professional rights and responsibilities don't really map well to 'end
users' who are just citizens, or creators who want to reach audiences and
bypass all the intermediaries (including, and possibly especially, those
who traditionally claimed to operate in the creators interests).
He gave a very good way to explain the dangers of TPM. With the US
DMCA's interpretation of Legal protection for TPM, copyright law and TPM
are 'de-linked' in that the TPM can create limits which do not exist in
the law. The TPM essentially becomes the law, or superceed the law.
Any creators' rights that may exist in the law are essentially removed
by TPM, and the only rights that creators' may have are those that will
exist in the TPM. And who controls the TPM's? Intermediaries which have
already proven they do not have the interest of either creators or
citizens/users in mind.
I do hope the CRA membership were listing to that part of his speech
very closely -- this is someone who this community may listen to more than
they listen to us 'techie geeks', and is essentially saying the same types
of things we are.
- Ann (Didn't get last name -- will ask later)
Was previously part of the Canadian negotiating team, currently a
consultant. Spoke about the positions of the principle interests, them
being the EU and the US. Spoke of the challenges of getting copyright
issues onto the table with TRIPs given that agriculture, patent and other
issues take precedence.
*= I made an "intervention" (As Bruce Stockfish called it -- just asked a
question at the mic ;-) where I mentioned that I was a software creator.
I suggested that as a consultant I am often asked to configure firewalls
to protect clients, and the first step is to do a "threat analysis". In
copyright there are 3 constituencies: creators, intermediaries, and
citizens/users. I suggested that the things that creators would ask for
would be extremely different depending on who they thought the greatest
threat was from, and I clearly stated I believed the greatest threat came
from intermediaries. I suggested that things like Legal protection for
TPM was, rather than protecting creative rights, were just a matter of us
handing the keys to our rights over to intermediaries.
=There was a short break
Then a panel called "Other Perspectives"
- Jonathan Tasini http://www.creatorsfederation.org/
Creators' Federation (USA)
Very exciting/excited speaker. You could tell he was not a fan of the
current regime in control over the US government (that would be an
Suggested that creators are stuck between publishers and other
intermediaries that want to have contracts to take their rights away, and
people on the other side who believe that "Information should be free"
(Note: The context suggested he meant gratis, not libre).
Copyright intended to serve few purposes
- Advancement of science and useful arts (as per US constitution)
- freedom of speech
- protection of interests of individual artists
He said he is not a believer in the power of the Internet to help his
community. He suggested that the Internet puts faith in the "Free Market"
(Again, suggestion was 'free of responsibility', not 'libre' - the
free-trade vs. fair-trade type debate)
Suggested that the "enemy is the Free Market".
There is a need to get creative communities together -- his group was
seen as doing something novel by connecting with librarians, sometimes
seen as having conflicting interests with traditional creators. This
connection has given them strength in very critical moments.
He suggested that creators have what he calls the "Stalkholm Syndrome".
Essentially some hostages in Stalkholm had warm feelings toward their
captors both during and after they were hostages. This relationship is
similar to creators and intermediaries where their interests are obviously
not the same (and creators are often like hostages of powerful media
intermediaries), and yet there is this inappropriate warm feeling felt
He suggested that the future of protecting creative rights rests in
having all types of creators (including groups that currently do not work
well together, such as musicians and Free Software creators , or
journalists and librarians) coming together under a single umbrella to
protect their collective rights.
He sees connections with the traditional labour movement, seeing
creators rights as the protection of a specific type of workers rights.
RWM: not sure if this is feasible or a possible route, but glad to see
anything that will bring creator communities together to talk. The best I
hope for is that we stop harming each others interests and focus on
protecting ourselves from the intermediaries.
Suggests there is common ground -- almost a political economic or
'class' analysis happening.
Emphasis on employee/employer conflict, not creator/consumer conflict.
It is about power relationships
- Paul Jones, Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT/ACPPU)
Suggests that while his community and the other creator communities have
had animosity, that there is common ground with creators groups.
Protection of copyright seen as necessary to protect academic freedom.
Wish to share works, but not surrender all rights (not surrender moral
Having university staff have intellectual property "considered
inconvenient by industry" which wishes to commercially exploit university
(RWM: Personal opinion is that publicly funded university research should
not lead to works or inventions that have economic rights, only that have
moral rights. License agreements should wave economic rights to the
public interest as payment back for being publicly funded.)
Speaks of the "cult of IP" where there is a push to have tighter and
even tighter laws.
*= My intervention here was to introduce myself as someone from the Free
Software movement. Suggested that by the name we are confused as being
part of the "information should be free" group (gratis). Suggested that
the Free Software movement was created as a form of creative rights
movement that recognized that the thread was the intermediaries, not the
end users, and found our own solution to the problem.
Asked the panel how we can bring these different groups together that
are often seen as opposite sides of the debate. I suggested that while I
came to this meeting to connect with other creator communities that a few
people had already said "when did you become a creator", linking back to
how I am most often seen as only protecting the interests of users in this
Note to anyone reading this that may have been at the meeting: I was not
offended by the comment at all, and brought it up as an example of how
there is not yet understanding between the different communities that we
each see our relationship with users differently. University teachers
obviously have a different type of relationship with their students than
the author of a textbook would. Free Software creators have a different
relationship with software users, an almost opposite relationship that
exists between software users and non-free software vendors (we
deliberately grant rights to users and derivative creators, non-free
software vendors seek to take rights away from users and creators).
The evening was a reception sponsored by Access Copyright (A collective
society for print-media creators), CAUT and the National Arts Center.
There were some speeches, but the most interesting was to walk around and
chat with different people. There was quite a bit of interest in
copyright and the software community, and I had the opportunity to speak
about Sklarof, about OpenOffice.org, and a good number of other topics.
Gave out many business cards and I hope to further these connections.
All in all a great day, and glad that Susan invited me and that the CRA
hosted such an event. It will be interesting if in the future whether
the Free Software creators community will become part of this, and whether
our positions on critical issues such as TPM and "who controls the
technology" will become part of what they bring forward to government.
Note: CRA didn't have their agenda online, but the CRA agenda is
incorporated into the agenda of the Writers union.
9:00 - 10:30 Panel: The International Cultural Instrument and Creators
Garry NEIL, International Network for Cultural Diversity
Robert PILON, Coalition for Cultural Diversity
Janette MARK, Canadian Heritage
11:00 - 12:00 Traditional Knowledge:
Jock LANGFORD, Environment Canada
Suzy BASILE, Assemblée des première nations de Labrador et Québec
Moderator, Greg Young-Ing, chair Indigenous Peaoples' Caucus, CRA/ADC
The International Cultural Instruments and Creators
There are events from 09:00-12:00 that are part of the CRA AGM, and then
I work for the afternoon (all public policy fun and no techie geek work
and I'll not have food on my table -- would love to figure out a way to
get paid for my public policy interest ;-), and then off to the weekly
GOSLING community gaggle <http://www.goslingcommunity.org>.
Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
Governance software that controls ICT, automates government policy, or
electronically counts votes, shouldn't be bought any more than
politicians should be bought. -- http://www.flora.ca/russell/
For (un)subscription information, posting guidelines and
links to other related sites please see http://www.digital-copyright.ca
More information about the Discuss