Artists’ Access to Legal Resources in Canada

Waxy is a guy who created a version of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.  He cleared all the samples.  What he did not do for whatever reason was clear the image rights from the photographer.  An action was brought against him despite his access to a fair use defence in the US (that recognizes transformative use unlike Canada where the Court has yet to do so). He tells the story here: http://waxy.org/2011/06/kind_of_screwed/  This situation highlights for me both the importance of using the defences we have when we have them and understanding them fully (which we often don’t).  It also illustrates the importance of access to informed and accessible legal advice.

Canada has only one legal clinic that provides any kind of representation and its mandate and capacity is very limited (CIPPIC). It has tended to focus on consumers.  We are a big country with a small population – we make lots of films, video games, and yes a whole lot of art, but the access to advice and ultimately representation is extremely limited.  We have no staff lawyers at the EFF, Public Knowledge, Stanford Fair Use, Berkman, and, like the ALO, the CJAM, and the clinic in Halifax, have no sustainable sources of revenue as support (unlike most VLA’s in the USA).  We have a new copyirght act coming and few resources to address the litigation that will undoubtedly follow.  Part of my reason for organizing the art, revolution and ownership event is to seek a means to gather support for the tasks that are ahead.  Please join us on the 8th!

 

 


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