Legislative Committee on Bill C-11: Our Appearance March 7th at 3:30 pm est

Submitted by martha on February 29, 2012 – 4:03pm
I am scheduled to appear March 7th, 2012 before the Parliamentary Committee on Bill C-11. You can watch it here: http://www.parl.gc.ca/committeebusiness/CommitteeMeetings.aspx?Cmte=CC11…. The previous letter on C-32 can be found at http://artistslegaloutreach.ca/node/285. For those who are interested here is the body of the letter sent to the Committee on Bill C-11.

My name is Martha Rans and I am the Legal Director of the Artists’ Legal Outreach (ALO) in Vancouver, British Columbia . The ALO provides summary legal advice to artists and art organizations. We offer workshops, resources and clinics where artists can meet confidentially with an experienced lawyer. Over the past four years we have provided information and education to over 1000 people, organizations and creators on copyright and related issues. As a group we assist anyone who needs this information not just those with a specific point of view.

This past September we held an event: Art, Revolution and Ownership: Who Owns the Public Domain? More than 200 artists, performers, dancers and curators came together with lawyers and members of the post secondary community to discuss copyright. What we learned from each other is that though creativity is flourishing, there is limited actual knowledge and understanding of copyright. It is to these limits that I would direct the Committee’s attention. Most people’s knowledge of copyright is limited to INTERPOL warnings on DVDs and the small print of click-through terms and conditions. They do not know what copyright means and its value is to creators. They also do not understand what they are paying for when it comes to licenses, royalties and levies. This needs to change if we are to nurture a truly creative and innovative economy.

Bill C-11 appears to recognize this need education is key to a creator asserting their rights. Access to legal information, in the digital age, supports creation and innovation, and avoids litigation. The better an innovator understands copyright, the greater his or her ability to negotiate terms with content distributors, publishers and advertisers. Each day, I am astonished by the innovation and entrepreneurship I see across the digital media world — but here as well, emerging producers need some measure of certainty. True innovation is best supported by legislation that enables risks to be taken rather than making those risks more onerous, or costs too high. This legislation in its current form provides less certainty and for some creators (and producers) the potential costs are high.

Just as this government has created innovative solutions that assist new immigrants to connect with professional bodies so too can this government create an innovative project within existing bodies that would provide a clearinghouse of resources that truly support the digital economy. Such a resource would be available to ensure that innovators can innovate and creators can create and build the markets they need to prosper.

I would welcome the opportunity to address these issues with the Committee in further detail.


Martha Rans

Legal Director, Artists’ Legal Outreach

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