We’re very happy that our Breakfast Club series has risen again, with our first such event since 2014 taking place a couple of weeks ago. It was a delight to welcome friends old and new to share some industry insights over coffee and croissants.

Allen Mendelsohn was the perfect speaker to help us revive the series, and gave us much food for thought about copyright’s place in the digital age. Despite his claims that copyright is an inherently boring subject, I think everyone in attendance would agree that he kept things engaging and highly relevant. Allen guided us deftly through the 300 year history of copyright law before presenting some solutions to the copyright dilemma that came up during his recent workshop at C2MTL. Of course, these “solutions” were anything but definitive, and brought up more questions than answers:

  1. Copyright is currently enforced nationally, but is clearly a global issue. Is it realistic to move towards global treaties? 
  2. How can we educate users to respect copyright when open source content is becoming more and more prevalent?
  3. Is there a technological solution, where copyrighted works are locked by code until payment is confirmed?
  4. Is it feasible to consider a middle-out instead of top-down approach? Can we look to Wikipedia for a model of community standards?
  5. What if we gave up and made content free? What would be the incentive to create works?

Major corporations are a driving force in copyright issues at the moment. Studios like HBO put up big bucks for productions like Game of Thrones, and potentially have a lot to lose to piracy. It’s inspiring to see new models of supporting content creation, like the way podcasting networks are linking together independent producers and using crowdfunding to get their projects off the ground. But can those models be scaled up to productions that require a major investment up front?

The conversation was lively following Allen’s presentation, and we all left with a lot to consider. Thanks to our presenter and everyone who attended!

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