Thursday, June 10, 2010

Au revoir Ottawa

TWUC's meetings ended on Sunday after a lot of discussion about copyright, and the promise to issue this press release, and create this Facebook group. The gist of the problem from the writers' point of view is a change to copyright legislation in Bill C-32, and specifically changes to Section 29 which asserts that:
Fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire does not infringe copyright.
This aims to simplify matters for people who want to copy our work - but at the expense (literally) of those whose livelihood is to create it. The problem is that if the word "education" is added, the act then allows any instructor to copy any copyrighted work for free. The financial implications are huge for writers whose works are studied or used in schools, colleges, universities and training facilities large and small.

Currently there is a licensing arrangement (with Access Copyright) which puts a very modest fee in the pockets of publisher and author. For most Canadian writers, this amounts to a total copyright earning of around $500 a year once the pot has been divided. As about 80% of this is estimated to come from educational copying, one small change to this act means a whacking cut to a slender earning. And so the writers of Canada are calling for that change to be revoked and will pursue legal action if it is not.

So, meeting over, I spent a couple of days more in Ottawa. Saw the Hill

and the beautiful Parliament library, saved from fire in 1916 by a fastidious librarian who remembered to close the door when leaving;

and the cat sanctuary, where the cats come, so it seems, in all shapes and sizes;

and the Rideau locks;

and, in memory of Louise Bourgeois, the National Gallery's spider (which has marble eggs, I now know).

And then dined at a very nice tapas-style restaurant, Play, where the portions are small and shareable and include Ricotta "gnudi" - described to us as a naked noodle, tasty on its tapenade pillow and wearing a fetching little hat of confit garlic;

and asparagus with prosciutto

which was good, but a shocking abuse of prosciutto - which should be served raw in slices thin enough to reveal a Parma sunset. A nice piece of bacon, designed to be chunked and fried, would have been a more rational choice here I think.

A couple of the less photogenic items - grilled romaine dribbled with melted Ermite and garnished with caramelized onion and chopped cashews, and the tempura pickled ginger with a tamarind dip - were excellent.

My final day included a tour of the Gatineau, with lunch in Wakefield, tea (and a tiny cake)

in Chelsea, a look at Meech Lake

and a last vista: the Ottawa Valley, seen from a viewpoint on the Eardley Escarpment.

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