Copyright amendments misguided

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

January 18, 2008 Ed Cartoon

Under mounting pressure from recording companies and lobbying groups, Canada’s federal government is currently considering implementing new copyright legislation, that could end fair dealing " the right to reproduce materials for personal use.

The new legislation would make it illegal to transfer CD music to a computer, even for the simple purpose of listening to music on an iPod.

The new laws present a number of problems, and indicate a shift in government policy with corporate lobbying trumping consumer interests. This view reflects an American tradition that is overly strict and quickly becoming outdated.

The recording companies are beating a dead horse. This battle has gone on for nearly a decade since Lars Ulrich’s campaign against Napster, with the music industry gaining little ground.

Lobbying groups therefore need to innovate rather than resorting to the same tired themes.

There is of course nothing wrong with personal use of legitimately purchased copyrighted materials. Consumers who purchase music do so in order to listen to it, and personal reproduction is simply an extension of that right.

As such, there is nothing wrong with ripping a CD to a computer for home listening or transferring to an MP3 player, so long as the intent isn’t to share pirated material online.

These trends will only continue " let’s face it, the Internet isn’t going away " so the music industry needs to find ways to embrace it. Rather than fighting the tide of technology, it should be finding ways to use it to its advantage.

That innovation certainly doesn’t include severely limiting the extent to which its consumers can use legally purchased material. If anything, it only further alienates music listeners " who’s going to buy a CD they can’t even listen to on their iPod?

Furthermore, these laws will be virtually impossible to enforce. CDs are by nature built to be transferable to computers, and people will find a way to get music onto their iPods whether the government likes it or not.

All in all, the music industry needs to pull its collective head from the sand. It isn’t 1974 anymore, and banning USB cables doesn’t make sense in today’s world.

It’s sad that in an era where we’ve learned to share so much information, we’re trying to limit its use. It goes against the benefits of information technology.

Until they can find a way to embrace advancements, record companies will only continue to hurt listeners and themselves.

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