Writers’ unions are among the few contrary voices in a storm
of protest over Canada’s proposed new copyright legislation. “Everyone says it
is complicated — but the anti-copyright community hasn’t let that stop it from
unleashing a torrent of abuse,” the Creators Copyright Coalition, whose members
include PWAC and the Writers Union of Canada, states on their website.

Indeed, within hours of the unveiling of Bill C-61,
email inboxes, blogs and FaceBooks were inundated with commentary, most of it
negative. The issue of digital locks – which would stop consumers from
transferring files from one technology to another – seems to have caused the
most uproar. This has left the traditional writers unions defending what
appears to be a pro-industry bill against hip young musicians and artists who
have embraced the world of digital exchange.

Writers’ unions are among the few contrary voices in a storm
of protest over Canada’s proposed new copyright legislation. “Everyone says it
is complicated — but the anti-copyright community hasn’t let that stop it from
unleashing a torrent of abuse,” the Creators Copyright Coalition, whose members
include PWAC and the Writers Union of Canada, states on their website.

Indeed, within hours of the unveiling of Bill C-61, email
inboxes, blogs and FaceBooks were inundated with commentary, most of it
negative. The issue of digital locks – which would stop consumers from
transferring files from one technology to another – seems to have caused the
most uproar. This has left the traditional writers unions defending what
appears to be a pro-industry bill against hip young musicians and artists who
have embraced the world of digital exchange.

“The question is, who gains from this bill?” asked Brendan
Canning, a member of the music group Broken Social Scene, in a Canadian Music
Creators Coalition news release.  “It’s not musicians. Musicians
don’t need lawsuits…These aren’t the things that help us or our careers.”

Academics have also spoken out against the bill. The
Canadian Communication Association, a coalition of media educators, argued in a
letter to Industry Minister Jim Prentice
that the new provisions are weighted
too heavily in favour of industry and will make it impossible for teachers to
legally use media in the classroom.

Artist groups have criticized the bill, saying it will make
some forms of art illegal— no more putting Mickey Mouse ears on your
favourite politician!

The Canadian Association of Journalists had not made any statement on the issue
at the time of this post.

Here’s a sampling of some of the opinions and articles
offered in the past 48 hours:

“In making digital locks sacrosanct, it places huge
barriers before artists, documentary filmmakers, teachers, critics,
visionaries, and journalists trying to bear witness, hold public figures to
account, or create new from old.” – Laura J. Murray, Faircopyright.ca 

“As we feared, this bill represents an American-style
approach to copyright. It’s all locks and lawsuits.” – Canadian Music Creators
Coalition news release: Copyright
Reform Bill Doesn’t Help Canadian Artists

“The whole of contemporary cultural content in Canada has
been privatized. News and history will be placed in the private sector and
available only with permission.” – Appropriation
Art Professional Artists Collective
.

“We need creative legal strategies to profit — economically,
socially and culturally — from the vast potential of the networked information
economy. The government can help by streamlining and simplifying copyright
licensing instead of making it even more complex.” – Legal columnist/law
professor Jeremy de Beers, National
Post blog post
. 


“Everyone says it is complicated — but the anti-copyright
community hasn’t let that stop it from unleashing a torrent of abuse.” – The
Creators Copyright Coalition
.

Online discussion:

Fair
Copyright for Canadians FaceBook

CBC
Forum – Will Bill C-61 change the way you download?

Background:

CBC report – “Copyright
Bill could result in police state: critics
.”

Patricia W. Elliott is a magazine journalist and assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of Regina. You can visit her at patriciaelliott.ca.