What is the CRA doing?

February 5, 2009 at 13:55 | Posted in Life, New Media | Comments Off on What is the CRA doing?
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In skimming through my usual RSSs and blogs today I came across a new “Video Contest” being run by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). They are apparently looking for people to volunteer their time and resources to make Public Service Announcements for them regarding the evils of the “Underground Economy”. While I have no problem With PSAs on the given subject, and can see that creating such is definitely within the purview of the CRA, I do take issue with how they are doing it.

Given that

by their own rules they may never have to award a prize;

If for any reason, and without limitation, the Contest is not capable of running as planned, the CRA reserves the right in its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the Contest, and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest.

and

The CRA reserves the right to suspend, cancel, terminate or modify the contest without advance notice, and to thereafter re-commence the contest, if at all, only at such time(s) and upon such terms and conditions as the CRA deems reasonable under the circumstances.

And the fact that that they are laying total claim not just to the winning video but to all videos entered;

All videos submitted will become the property of the CRA. Submission of a video constitutes the provision to the CRA of an irrevocable, non-exclusive right in all rights in the video, without limitation, to all now and hereafter existing common law, statutory and moral rights throughout the world (and regardless of whether or not such rights are now known), and including all rights to use,
copy, adapt, sublicense, edit, modify, make derivative works, publish, transmit, distribute, publicly perform, publish, delete or display the content of the video and the video itself, in whole or in part, in perpetuity in any and all media (whether now existing or hereafter devised) without limitation, and without consideration or acknowledgment to the entrant, as well as the unconditional right to use the idea and statements about the video for advertising/publicity purposes without additional  compensation, except where prohibited by law.

(emphasis my own)

It really looks like the CRA has decided it wants to get several PSAs made on this subject without what, in my opinion, would constitute due compensation to the creators. Even the prize for the winning entry is largely symbolic and lacking in remuneration.  What they do offer is:

If we like what you come up with, you could win the CRA Independent Video Producer Award and be invited to attend (at our expense, of course) an award reception in Ottawa for the premiere of your video on the CRA Web site.

An all-expenses-paid trip to Ottawa and a reception in your honour—not too shabby! And your video could be seen by millions of Canadians. It may be used in future advertising campaigns and outreach initiatives.

Which if I’m reading it correctly is a trip to Ottawa and  dinner after they do a photo op with the press to pat themselves (and the winner) on the back.

Royalties? No.

Scholarship? No.

A free professional quality video camera to continue doing such good work? No.

Now while I believe in civic responsibility and all that, I just can’t get behind a branch of the Canadian government trying to get it PSAs done for free. Especially in a time of economic slowdown/crisis during which the Finance minister and Prime Minister have promised to try to stimulate the economy. I guess they don’t consider paying people for the work they do as a way of stimulating the economy.

Some will look at this and say that it is a good cost cutting measure. And if the government was laying claim to only the winning video, giving full and prominently displayed credit to the creators every time they played the video, and giving an award that at least in some way supports the work of the creators, a scholarship to a media school, an internship at the CBC, professional quality video/audio equipment, the prize they are currently offering plus say $1000, I’d agree.

For me this is embarrassing. Not the contest, not the issue the contest is trying to address but the fact that the current government is basically trying to get something for nothing. The irony of them trying to get something for next to nothing while decrying people avoiding paying for stuff is not lost on me either.

Come on CRA people! Support Canadian video producers and either hire people and pay them the going rate or fix this contest so you aren’t ripping off the entrants so badly.

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