Hollywood's Canadian MP plagiarizes entertainment industry in op-ed

A Canadian MP who is accused of being in bed with entertainment companies published an editorial defending herself in yesterday's Toronto star, large passages of which were lifted almost verbatim from publications and speeches given by the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

Sam Bulte is the Liberal Party Member of Parliament who spent her last term in office creating draconian, US-style copyright proposals, apparently at the behest of the entertainment companies who bankrolled her last election campaign. This kind of law-buying is relatively unheard-of in Canadian politics and Bulte has come under fire from all quarters for repeating her sins with her current campaign, which culminated in a $250/plate fundraising dinner sponsored by entertainment executives, associations and other cronies.

Yesterday's Toronto Star published a lengthy editorial under Bulte's by-line, but Michael Geist, a law professor and editorialist, has shown that large passages of Bulte's material was lifted, uncredited, from speeches and publications from the Canadian Recording Industry Association, and slightly rewritten.

The irony is really lovely. Bulte's defense all along is that she isn't unduly influenced by her "friends" in the entertainment industry, but here we have evidence that these friends are ghost-writing her campaign materials, or at least appearing as uncredited co-authors in her newspaper editorials.

Bulte says:

"While U.S. online music ventures, such as iTunes and Napsters, are prospering because of the certainty of modern copyright laws there, Canada's legal digital music services have suffered without similar legislation. On a per capita basis, Canadian legal downloads should be the equivalent of roughly 10 percent of U.S. sales. Given Canada's relatively higher broadband penetration, the figure could be even higher. However, lacking the same legal supports, Canadians have downloaded only two percent of the amount south of the border. Why? The OECD reported in June 2005 that Canada has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of unauthorized file sharing in the world."

If the comments sound familiar, consider what CRIA said in a September 5, 2005 release (for my rebuttal back in September see CRIA and Kazaa):

"In other countries, legal music downloading services are thriving, with legions of consumers attracted by the convenience, selection and high quality that are provided. By contrast, Canada's legal digital music sales continue to be hamstrung by antiquated copyright laws and widespread Internet piracy. Digital sales in this country run at one-half of one percent of US levels, but should be in the 12 to 15 percent range given relative broadband penetration in the two countries. An Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report released in June of this year found that Canada has the highest per capita rate of unauthorized file-swapping in the world."