copyright bill: letter to prentice

by Hugh

Sent, via email (letter is better, but what can you do?), to a number of people, including Jim Prentice, the Minister of Industry, responsible for the Copyright Act in Canada, and my MP – Thomas Mulcair NDP – Outremont. Please feel free to use, adapt, copy etc this letter and do with it what you would like. I hereby renounce all copyrights on this text.

Dear Minister Prentice:

I am disturbed by the Government’s announcement that a new copyright bill will be tabled in December, without any public consultation. Copyright is a crucial issue for Canadian competitiveness – in education, science, business, and culture. All indications are that overly restrictive copyright laws stifle innovation, yet this is exactly what the Government appears to be tabling. A restrictive copyright bill could have disastrous effects on the future of the country.

The most important problem is that the Government is tabling a bill without consultations with Canadians, so that a full range of voices has not been heard. This means that the best decision cannot be made, and instead narrow interests of those who *do* have the Government’s ear are likely to trump what is good for the future of the country.

The bill, apparently, is likely to include anti-circumvention provisions (digital locks on machines so that using the things Canadians buy, the way they wish to use them will be illegal). These provisions have proved to create significant harm to education, privacy protection, security, research, free speech, and consumer interests.

The bill does not address crucial issues such as protecting parody, time shifting, device shifting, and the making of backup copies. Further, it does not address outdated and innovation-stifling crown copyright, or restrict statutory damages awards to cases of commercial infringement.

The government last consulted Canadians on digital copyright issues in 2001. The Internet and technology use have changed dramatically since then, yet the Government has done little – that I am aware of – to find out what implications these changes have on Canadians. On businesses, on teachers, on regular people.

As a small web business owner, I am shocked that the Government would charge ahead on such important legislation without doing the work required to understand the implications properly, without doing the work required to find out how it will impact Canadians, and what it is that Canadians actually want.

Please reconsider this dangerous approach.

Best regards,
etc.

If you want to send something to him:

Jim Prentice Constituency Office
Suite 105
1318 Centre St NE
Calgary, Alberta T2E 2R7
403 216-7777
Fax 403 230-4368
Prentice.J@parl.gc.ca

And if you’d like to find your MP, to send to him/her, plug your postal code in here.