Mesh Conference – Michael Geist Interviewed by Rob Hyndman

Michael Geist interviewed by Rob Hyndman

Notes by Connie Crosby – any inaccuracies or ommissions are mine and not the speakers’

Bill 60 Copyright died on the Order Paper; new legislation is expected to be introduced this fall; Geist expects it to be more U.S.-style legislation.

The current protection tools currently don’t work. This legislation has an impact with free speech and scientific research.

iTunes phenomenon – they were able to negotiate content protection deals with the distributors – only did this once Napster made them realize how people wanted music delivered, and they were going to download whether they paid or not.

Why more content on U.S. iTunes than Canadian? Where is the French content? Economic parity – Apple starts with the larger players; some of the larger players have held out e.g. Sony dragging its feet, unwilling to move into the market place. It is more about protecting their devices in competition with iPod rather than protecting their music.

Effort to roll back DRM – are there signs there is flexibility in this area?
Users already have control over the content; some changes are taking place. Countries are now realizing that policies put into place in mid-90s do not cover current situations, current technology.

We are clearly seeing a move to collaborative content production. What does this tell us about the ideal copyright policy?
We do need copyright; it plays an important role. Most of the legislation controls are not about copyright or the artist; they are about trying to control markets. Nigeria – number one movie industry; people are making own movies and selling them on the streets without copyright coverage.

Do we need copyright policy in Canada?
Starting point really is: “do no harm” but we have to realistically realize in politics people do not want to be seen as doing nothing.

What is the current political reality and what are the reasons for it?
25 years of lobbying; musicians speaking out (Canadian Music Creators Coalition) was a breath of fresh air but it is hard to undo 25 years of lobbying. The politicians did stand up and take notice, and met with this group. CMCC is breaking away from CRRA (Canadian Retransmission Right Association).

What is your feeling about the severity of the times?
Net neutrality is a big issue, especially in the U.S.; there is an issue about whether certain levels of the internet should be at a cost. Some have the ability to block access to certain websites e.g. blocking a union from accessing a website that supports it, or blocking a whole city from seeing a website. We have examples in Canada of discrimination blocking people from seeing certain types of websites. There is a need for clear net neutrality legislation. The end users want to know they can access content without being blocked by Rogers, Telus, etc.

Three years for now, will political parties have missed the boat? What will the political landscape look like?
After the last election, the Bulte issue raised some interest. What is the number of letters you need for something to get noticed? You need only two letters from within your riding to get noticed by your Member of Parliament.

Our policies that are premised around the need for incentives to get people to create are faulty. Many people coding for Open Source without any incentive, for example.

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