Artists need to stand up for their copyright rights

Emily Carr University hosted a screening of RiP ["Remixing a revolution", March 19-26] a couple weeks ago, after which one student observed: "This film talks a lot about corporate rights holders, but what about artists?"

So far the copyright debate has revolved around the abuse of power of some corporate right holders. But copyright isn't just for corporations; artists are also protected by copyright, and in the power dynamics that exist in society, artists are pretty close to the bottom.

Some creators say they don't mind if people use their work for free. In most cases, these people have either already made millions from their copyright or have full-time jobs that support them. The average visual artist earns $13,976 [down to] $6,824, which is below the Statistics Canada low-income cutoff. These artists rely on royalties to pay their rent.

Part of the problem with copyright has nothing to do with legislation. As RiP mentions, the ridiculous fees charged by some corporate rights holders seldom go to creators. This is because those artists have signed their rights away, often under pressure from the people who control distribution.

It is time for artists to take back their copyright and be heard in the public debate.

> Melissa Gruber / Vancouver

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