Posted by Bob Jonkman on September 24th, 2009
A few days after I posted my Canadian Copyright Consultation submission I received some e-mail feedback from Robert:
Hello Bob Jonkman,
I’ve read most of your input about U.B.B. and found it surprising that you, a software developer of all people, would oppose the U.B.B. ruling.
I’ve read your blog: [link]
While reading, I’ve stumbled upon this:
“I favour shorter copyright terms, no criminalisation for
non-commercial infringement, no criminalisation of circumvention of technical protection measures, and no media levies.”
Now, as a software developer, someone who uses copyright and programs protections, to what extent that you favour the above sentence?
Hi Robert: As a software developer I am especially concerned with Usage Based Billing. I need to access online documentation, I use forums, blogs, and mailing lists to interact with other developers and clients, I run servers both for production and to test Web applications. But what will affect me most is downloading programs, software tools, and complete CD and DVD images with operating system distributions. All this activity puts me well beyond Bell’s proposed limit of 60 GBytes per month. Connection fees will nearly double for me under UBB, and I get nothing for it.
The statement on copyright, that I favour shorter terms and no technical protection measures are completely consistent with my position as a developer. In the first place, I need to use materials that are either freely available, or purchased from commercial sources. Bad licenses that use copyright law to restrict my use of material that I’ve legally purchased are harmful to me. For example, I want to write an addressbook program for a smart phone. But the vendor has restricted my ability to read the phone’s memory, and claims it is infringing that vendor’s copyright for me to reverse engineer the phone. This is harmful to me (I can’t do the work), it is harmful to my client (who can’t get the software he needs), and it is actually harmful to the phone vendor (because neither I or my client will ever buy that phone again).
Reduced copyright and fewer technical protection measures are also good for me, because more people will be able to make use of my software, leading to more work for me. Note that I never use “programs protections” for my software — it’s just not good for business. And while my software is copyrighted, I still grant licenses under GPL to make copies, requiring only that those who use my code give me attribution, and that their code uses the same license.
I don’t sell software, by the way. People pay me to write software. The software that gets written either belongs to the client (“work for hire”, so the client has the copyright), or I retain copyright and release the code under GPL.
Some of the submissions are now posted online. Alarmingly, many of the submissions I read online are not on the site. Hopefully the immense backlog has merely delayed the Copyright Consultation folks, and they’ll appear soon.
Even if you didn’t make a submission, you can still write to your MP and the Honourable Minister of Canadian Heritage, James Moore and the Honourable Minister of Industry, Tony Clement to let them know your views.