Letter to my MP

by timothy. 2 Comments

from: Timothy Comeau
to: Peggy Nash
cc: Jim Prentice, Prime Minister of Canada, Stephene Dion, Jack Layton
date: Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 2:10 PM
subject: Opposition to Copyright reform

While I respect the Government’s desire to update copyright
legislation to be fair to all parties within the 21st Century’s
digital environment, I do not feel that the legislation introduced
today is close to achieving that goal. Rather, it attempts to
legislate into law the 20th Century status quo, wherein the consumer
is subject to terms and conditions imposed by producers without
negotiation.

I very much object to the idea – introduced in the bill – that posting
copyrighted material online (specifically pictures) could make one a
criminal. This would have a serious effect on blogging, where it has
become normal to re-post images copied from the source. In fact, it is
often used as a mean to link to the original source. And blogging is
one of the examples of the transformative effect the net has had on
our culture … a vibrant arena for debate, discussion, and the
dissemination of new knowledge. To make any part of its culture
illegal would be equivalent to introducing limits to the freedom of
expression, or – in 20th Century language – to interfere with the
freedom of the press.

This law fails to recognize net-culture as it has developed over the
past decade. There needs to be a fair-use provision which is clear,
and which allows the posting of material within legitimate contexts,
such as those that are promotional and educational.

The Toronto Star has this breakdown

“you could copy a book, newspaper or photograph that you “legally
acquired.” But you couldn’t give away the copies. And you can’t make
copies of materials you have borrowed.”

-with regards to the photographs, this would make a site such as this
(Keil Bryant’s Flickr page, which I enjoy browsing because we share an
interest in such s-f imagery) illegal, if Bryant were Canadian. It
would also become illegal (as I understand it) for me to save a copy
of any of these images for my collection.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kielbryant/

– “- it would be illegal to post a copyright work ā€” picture, song,
film ā€” on the Internet without the permission of the copyright owner.”

As written above re: blogging

As a final word, the Government of Canada would be well advised to
consult with ‘share-holders’ who are representative of the base of
potential inf ringers: those under 35, who’ve grown up with VCRs and
computers. It has so far failed to do so. For those us (such as
myself) representative of this generation, a series of social norms
have developed with regard to material on the net. Trying to
criminalize downloading would be like trying to criminalize the great
Canadian tradition of saying ‘sorry’ when someone bumps into us.

Whatever legislation is introduced, technological circumvention along
with a young person’s ingenuity would counter it within 6 months (like
the jail-broken iPhone cracked by a kid in New York State two months
after its release). Under the new law, it would be illegal for future
young men ‘who hate AT&T’ do to so. We would thus be deprived of the
right to use a device with a contract we thought was fair.

We do not want to be beholden to the one-sided contracts which limit
our freedom to access digitized cultural material. In the 21st
Century, the more liberal (no pun intended) the copyright law, the
more creative the society is allowed to be. I disagree with Richard
Florida that the path to 21st Century wealth is the enforcement of
intellectual property laws, but I do agree with him that a
society/city’s wealth is a measure of its creativity … it’s a
question of how one’s define wealth. I do not define it in terms of
money, but rather in terms of inheritable, sharable, cultural
products. We thus currently enjoy a net of cultural wealth, and this
bill would seek to impoverish us all in favor of the more narrow
definition of wealth as a measure of how much a company can squeeze
from a consumer.

Timothy Comeau
timothycomeau.com

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