The seizure of Megaupload is not surprising and will no doubt be followed by others. This is only one of many reasons why I decided to host my own download files at BasementRug.com â€” because all of Megaupload’s files have been seized, not just those infringing copyright laws. Music bloggers archiving out-of-print recordings should consider starting their own non-profit hosting site specifically for this purpose.
I haven’t read the contentious U.S. bills: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) HR-3261 or Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), or the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty, but I have been following bill C-11 in Canada. It replaces the existing copyright regime with digital locks, and would force students to burn their notes after 30 days due to copyright infringement against class materials.
During a debate of C-11 on 18 October 2011, Timminsâ€”James Bay MP, Charlie Angus [NDP] reminded Canadian parliament that the ongoing copyright war is nothing new:
â€œThe word â€˜copyrightâ€™, the right to make a copy, was created out of English common law. I like the alternate emphasis in French law, which is â€˜le droit d’auteurâ€™, the right of the author. These are both very similar perspectives, but there is a different balance in the equilibrium of it . . . This is a debate that went on long before the digital age and the Internet. The balance of the right to make a copy is not a property right.â€
Bill C-11 â€œwould strike out . . . the mechanical royalty rights that have been guaranteed under the Copyright Board of Canada,â€ thus â€œdepriving artists of the millions of dollars that actually make it possible to carry on the works.â€
â€œI asked my hon. colleague, the heritage minister, about the fundamental problem with the education provisions, which is if students in Fort Albany on the James Bay coast want to take a college course, they would be obliged to burn their class notes after 30 days. As well, college professors who were teaching long-distance education courses to students in northern Canada would have to destroy all their class notes after 30 days because that is an infringement on copyright. That requirement would mean the creation of a modern book-burning regime. As well, we would see the creation of a two-tier set of rights. There is one set of rights in the analog and paper world that would allow students going to school in Toronto to keep their class notes. Those class notes are important, because year after year students keep them to build a body of work towards getting their degree. However, students on a northern reserve trying to get long-distance learning do not have that same set of rights. They have a lesser set of rights.â€
â€œIt is important that Canadians believe in the copyright regime, because the copyright regime is fundamental to creating a strong economy and a strong creative community. However, I would say there is not a six-year-old kid in this country who does not know how to break a digital lock, and people would break them with impunity. Should they be criminalized for that? I do not think so.â€
â€œWe have heard all this talk about piracy and the pirate bays. It is interesting that the very first pirate bay was in Los Angeles. We think Hollywood is the natural place to make movies, but it is not. Why, in God’s name, when the vast majority of the U.S. population lives on the eastern seaboard, would filmmakers go to the dessert outside Hollywood to make films? It was because they were escaping the copyright rules of the day. They could not make movies in the eastern United States because Edison controlled the copyright on the camera. However, there was not the same copyright rules in California, so Hollywood was the original pirate bay.â€
â€œJack Valenti, the defender of the Hollywood industry, called the VHS the Boston strangler of movies and begged Congress to shut it down, to make it illegal because VHS was a threat. The big pirate company at that time was Sony, which is suing people all over the planet for corporate infringement now, because it had created the VHS player with the record button. At that time there was a big corporate fight and everybody said that the VHS would destroy Hollywood. However . . . when the VHS came out, people started to rent movies, something they would never have thought about before because they would go to the theatre. Now they were able to rent movies, so this pirate activity, which Hollywood tried to shut down, became such a lucrative new business that it did not have to bother releasing movies to theatres. It could just release it to VHS and eventually on to DVD.â€
â€œLet us look at the recording business. In 1906 the musicians in the United States tried to make the roller piano illegal. They thought the roller piano would make it irrelevant to hire musicians so they said that mechanical music was a threat to musicians. Who did not side with them? The American Music Publishers Association did not support the musicians. It figured the more roller pianos sold, the more copyright it would make on the actual sheet music. Therefore, the roller piano was made legal. In the 1920s the recording industry tried to shut down radio because radio was not paying royalties. In each area along the way the problem was the need to find a monetization stream.â€
â€œThe fight in the digital age is no different than it was in 1928 when the royalties of artists dropped over 80% in the recording business because radio was the Napster of the day. It found a monetization stream. We are asking the government to work with us on a monetization stream for artists and unless we find that, we will be at the copyright wars for decades to come.â€