Uh-oh. Bev Oda (the Canadian Tory Heritage Minister who funded her campaign with money from the big entertainment, software and pharma companies) is poised to bring down new copyright legislation that will plunge Canada into the dark ages, outdoing the USA for sheer boneheaded lunacy. The USA had an excuse in 1998 when it passed the Digital Millennium Act — no one else had tried legislating copy-proof bits before. It was a dumb idea, but it hadn't been absolutely proven wrong at the time.
Now it has. Nearly 10 years later, bits are still getting easier to copy. Entertainment companies are demanding that governments change the laws of physics to preserve their old business models, and the public expense is immeasurable. Record companies like Sony, Warner and Universal are terrorizing the world by suing hundreds of music lovers every month. Security researchers are afraid to look into harmful DRM because they might fall afoul of copyright law (some of them do it anyway and end up in jail). Companies are afraid to compete because they might get sued for violating copyright by playing an iTune on a Zune or a Zunetune on an iPod.
Canada should be looking to celebrate and protect artists and companies with copy-friendly, Internet-native business models. These made-in-Canada successes, like Barenaked Ladies and Fading Ways Music, are thriving in the face of copying.
Instead of protecting these businesses, Minister Oda is proposing to attack them in order to prop up the ailing, American record labels and movie studios.
We kicked Oda's predecessor out of office because she sold out the public on copyright. Oda's not far behind. MPs should represent the public. They shouldn't take money from giant corporations and then hand those companies laws that grant them windfall profits at public expense.
Ever taped or PVRed a show so that you can watch it later, otherwise known as time shifting?
Or ripped a CD so you could listen to it on your MP3 player, called format shifting?
With changes to Canada's copyright laws expected as early as next month, these mundane 21st century activities could theoretically be open to prosecution – unless the Conservative government steps in with expanded "fair use" or "fair dealing" protections for consumers.
Close observers of the file say all signs point to a new regime that will improve safeguards for major music, film and media companies and artists for unpaid use of their material, but neglect to make exemptions for personal use of copyrighted content.
Consumer advocates like Ottawa-based lawyer Howard Knopf are urging the federal government to protect Canadians with wide exemptions in the Copyright Act for "fair use."
Canadians: HOWTO stop the Canadian DMCA, act now!
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Editorial in Toronto Star about Hollywood's Member of Parliament
Canadian students ask govt to save them from copyright
Hollywood's Canadian Member of Parliament
Can. Heritage Minister's election was funded by entertainment co's
Canadian copyright czar forced to turn away industry bribes
How Hollywood's MP in Canada financed her campaign
Spiral 999 sez, "This link gives the contact information for MP Bev Oda (both her community office and her office on Parliament Hill). I hope that all Canadian readers of Boing Boing will email, snail mail and telephone the minister's office with *cool-headed* objections to the proposed legislation. Hate mail is and always has been counter-productive.
The Liberal Party Critic for the Canadian Heritage portfolio, MP Mauril Belanger, can be found at the following web link.
"The contact info for the New Democratic Party of Canada's Canadian Heritage critic, Charlie Angus, can be found here.
"Pour les Quebecuois(es), here's a link to contact information for Maka Kotto, le depute pour la patrimoine Canadien."
Update 2: Digital Copyright Canada has petitions on the subject