Lose a court case? Change the law.

In a recent court case in Canada, the judge ruled that file sharing did not contravene copyright and was therefore legal. That seems reasonable given that Canadians -presumed guilty of copying – already pay a tax on all recordable media, the proceeds of which go directly to the recording industry. Now the Federal Heritage Minister has promised to change copyright law, though she provided no details. She didn’t say how quickly she would be removing the tax, although I’m pretty sure Canadians shouldn’t hold their breath.

When I was younger, we used to share CDs (and even records) with friends so that they could tape them. We could even get them at the library. This went on for years without issue. Why is this now different? Record companies insist that this is piracy, though I always thought that was when someone made illegal copies of music and sold it. Instead, people are just sharing music – just like we did years ago. Does the problem stem from the fact that the internet allows millions to get the shared music?

I also used to be able to make a backup copy of my CDs, or play them at home or in the car. Record companies would also like to take that away from me and make me pay for the same music over and over for each use. Once I have paid for a song, shouldn’t I be able to listen to it anywhere? Would a book publisher seriously consider charging me twice for a book if I wanted to read it at home and in the car?

I believe in copyright, but I find myself arguing against it in a sense. Rather that change to provide service to their customers, record companies have merely attacked them, and lobbied the government to change the law to make it criminal to share files. Copyright in virtually every country is civil law. Now the record companies are going to make it criminal – and make YOU a criminal.

Soon the FCC-supported broadcast flag will keep you from recording you favorite TV programs as well. Will these steps herald the end of the time-shifting VCR-driven era?

What rights do you as a consumer get for your hard-earned dollars? And who is on YOUR side?