American copyright lobby attacks Canadian politicians for supporting balanced copyright

Canadian Member of Parliament for the New Democratic Party and former frontman for the awesome punk band L'Etranger Charlie Angus sez,
I saw your comments on the Toronto town hall copyright forum [ed: in which the NDP was threatened with expulsion for handing out fliers calling for a moderate new copyright law that balanced public rights with the rights of copyright holders]. The fallout has been very bizarre. A copyright lobbyist with the American federation of Musicians is circulating an online e-mail demanding the NDP apologize for our "disgusting" position on balanced copyright.

The attack was caused by Olivia Chow handing out an interview I did with EXCLAIM Magazine on how copyright changes could benefit independent Canadian bands. Exclaim did the interview with me because of my background with DIY bands.

Seems to me the interview is consistent with what the NDP have always said on this file -- we want artists to be able to benefit from the massive stream of information being traded but we don't want average citizens turned into criminals. Here's Michael Geist's blog on the attack on us.

I was elected to participate in discussions about public policy. I have never heard of a lobbyist group demand an apology for speaking out about a totally botched piece of legislation like Bill C-61. If they spent less time running e-mail attacks and more time speaking with the various players they might realize that the NDP position has been balanced and consistent from the beginning.

As for a public recanting to satisfy the C-61 lobby ? Sorry, ain't happening.


  1. American lobbyist’s should stop meddling around in other Country’s business, when they stop doing this the world will be a better place.

  2. Just thought it was worth pointing out for the non Canadians here that Olivia Chow is married to Jack Layton, the leader of the federal NDP. The MP Mr. Willaert claims is openly departing from party policy is, in fact, married to the party’s leader.

    In the spirit of disclosure, I am a member of the Ontario NDP.

  3. I voted for the NDP in the last federal election, mostly based on their technology platform. I haven’t been disappointed at all. As long as they function, at least on this issue, as Her Majesty’s actual opposition (instead of the Liberals, who don’t really seem to care), I’ll continue to support them.

    I disagree with the NDP on a whole lot of things, but for me, this issue is going to define and affect Canada going forward for many, many years.

  4. Weren’t the original copyright laws in America for, like, 15 years?

    Something like that?

    That’s the moderate position on copyright.

    Anything more than 50 years is giving away the store.

    And don’t get started on this “life of the author” shit either.

  5. I am a US citizen and I would like to continue to encourage Canadians to keep their own copyright laws as long as possible. As soon as Canadian copyright is “brought in line” with US copyright then for all intents and purposes you will cease to exist on the minds of media companies. The whole point of pushing countries to have such similar laws on copyright is to save money and time dealing with each country individually. If Canada keeps its own truly unique stance on copyright, it remains a force to be negotiated with, instead of another rubber stamp.

  6. I still feel grieved over when I, as a Canuck musician, had to pay a levy for blank CD-Rs that I was going to distribute my music on. The resulting money was supposed to go to artists, but I never saw a cut of it.

  7. does Canadian law provide for criminal prosecution of those security guards that attempted to repress free speech of Canadians at the orders of private business?

  8. We do not believe that intellectual property is less valuable then physical property. But you cannot own an idea. Jazz is a music built on others ideas. A musical form that could not have begun if copyright as is now existed then. How long before the music company’s own our dreams forever?

    I’ve seen some comments criticize Mr. Geist ? Yet he has exposed American Company’s bribing Canadian politicians. All this to help foster an environment where Canadian customers can be sued. As a Canadian I would accuse any poliction that would sell out our artists rights and freedoms to a pack of corporate whores of treason.

    All of this is because the record company’s can`t accept that people have many more options to spend their limited disposable income on. I opt to buy indie cds yet they see this as theft?

    Get the hell out of our country.

  9. #4 Anon

    I’m in the same boat, the Liberals are not much of an opposition, at best they seem only to be jockeying for a good time to call an election. In the next century I think technology will be far too important to screw up and this is a good chance to get it right.

    There’s a lot I’m not keen on with the NDP, but their technology positions seem on the mark. And Charlie Angus responds to e-mail, even though he’s not my MP. While my MP (and MPP for that matter) responds only with form letters; like neither of us are people; I can get an ACK from a machine; I want a dialogue. Hopefully, the government will fall before this bill passes.

  10. This situation really illustrates the flaws in our democratic model, where a small interest group with loads of money can keep coming back time and time again using every tactic from campaign contributions to liberal MPs to pushing the Conservative Party’s minister of the environment (a serious WTF) to promote new copyright legislation, to stacking town halls and harassing opponents.

    They know that, like an annoying child begging, it’s only a matter of time until the Canadian government gives in.

  11. I always find it a remarkable statement when a politician demands that party members refrain from expressing views that don’t perfectly align with official party views. That kind of bi-partisan politics, which dominates many western governments, is starting to feel very antiquated and pointless. We have a similar ‘boys club’ attitude in Australia where they even have factions within the parties. The very idea that you can’t think for yourself or hold a different opinion to that of senior party members … it’s just absurd, a mockery of the very basis of democracy. Good government is all about considering as many views as possible and coming up with a balanced and fair response. If expressing an opposing view by distributing a informative flyer is considered “disgusting” within the NDP then I would strongly suggest that this is not the kind of party anyone should be voting for.

  12. I do not support their position, but the AFM is a union covering the United states AND Canada – it has members all over both countries and it is not a US only organization.

  13. @ #21

    You’re quite right in stating that “We do not believe that intellectual property is less valuable then physical property.”

    The trouble is, though, that copyright law, as compared with patent law, considers intellectual property to be far, far MORE valuable than physical property (i.e., artistic efforts, as covered by copyright, are given many, many times the protection of patents on more practical ideas, such as mechanical devices or pharmaceutical innovations.

    I have yet to hear a justification for the length of term discrepancy between copyright and patent (apart from the strength and wealth of film and music lobby groups).

  14. @ 24 Anon

    “If expressing an opposing view by distributing a informative flyer is considered “disgusting” within the NDP…”

    Nope, RTFAA. While I agree with your post up to the last sentence, clearly you’ve either misunderstood or misread the article – The NDP aren’t the ones ‘disgusted’ with anything other than the strongarm tactics of the Conservatives.

  15. Y’know, if the NDP ran an honest campaign to become the official opposition, people might take it a lot more seriously and be willing to spend a vote on it. The cheesy “Jack for PM” schtick we had to listen to last year was awkward and embarrassing, but I think they could be a really effective opposition.

  16. Hollywood declares war contra Canada and Obama follows.

    Good luck on healthcare bro, with that back-bone.

Comments are closed.