ACTRA Voices Concern over Copyright Legislation

by Jordan Richardson on November 17, 2010

Proposed changes to Bill C-32, the federal government’s copyright legislation, have got members  of ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) voicing some concerns.

A handful of Canadian performers voiced those concerns on Tuesday on Parliament Hill. The union worked the lobbyist role, pressing for changes to the proposed legislation.

Bill C-32 has passed its second reading and is set to get kicked to a legislative committee for further study later on this month. The plan is to update existing copyright laws in Canada, but ACTRA says that there are some major concerns that need to be addressed prior to the bill being signed into law.

The revisions to the bill the government has been working on would officially legalize the downloading of a CD on to a digital player and the recording of a TV show. This bothers ACTRA because they believe compensation should be in order for the copies that are being made. The answer, says the union, is for taxes to be applied to blank CDs to compensate performers for the private copying involved. These taxes would be extended to digital media as well, meaning that MP3 and hardware prices would go up thanks to the tax.

The levy, says ACTRA, would be relative to the size of the device. And sharing and copying, make no mistake about it, should be legal.

“If you don’t believe copies have value, you have no digital future,” ACTRA national president Ferne Downey said. “It will be a digital world, but you have to compensate the artists who make the content.”

The government has already essentially shot this option down, calling it an “iPod tax” and preferring to side with the recording industry’s insistent rallying cry of more prosecution for piracy. As we know, the Conservatives will not support any new taxes. ACTRA, however, prefers the model of the levy and suggests that the revenue from the levy would flow directly to the artists through the use of a collective.

This really is basic politics. The union prefers a more diverse way of controlling the inevitable, while the Conservative government prefers harsher penalties. If the harsher penalties proposed by government and the recording industry are along the lines of what Jammie Thomas-Rasset experienced in the United States to the tune of $1.5 million, I can’t help but side with the idea of a levy.

There’s something to be said for basic relative punishment, too, as in the punishment should suit the crime and not line the pockets of executives. To ACTRA’s credit, the notion of a collective that actually supports the creators seems to wrangle with the heart of the problem more than a stiff penalty that gets fed through the pipes of the industry to the very top of the ladder.

There’s a lot more going on here, though, and the issue is quite complex. In the coming days, I’ll attempt to pick it apart a little more to reveal just what impacts the average internet user and what doesn’t. With Bill C-32 making the rounds, I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more about it over the next while, so stay tuned.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS >, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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