If you're a Canadian and you care about the future of culture, art, free speech and the Internet, you need to do something about the Canadian version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that Industry Minister Jim Prentice introduced yesterday. This bill was prepared without any consultation with Canadian stakeholders: there was no input from industry, libraries, education, artists' groups, Canadian record labels, technology developers or citizens' groups. Instead, the bill was written to specs handed down by the US trade rep and ambassador (who kept on telling the press about the "assurances" they'd had from the Minister on the bill's features).
The bill makes it flatly illegal to break any kind of digital lock, or to violate terms in one of those absurd end-user license agreements that make you promise to agree to let the record industry kick your teeth in and drink all your beer, just for the dubious privilege of paying for a song at iTunes or watching a video on Viacom's website. This amounts to private law: under Prentice's plan, Parliament would get out of the business of making copyright law, simply enforcing whatever copyright law the entertainment industry itself dreamed up.
This is even worse than the approach the US DMCA took ten years ago, and look where that's got them. Tens of thousands of Americans have been sued, key innovative technology companies have been destroyed, computer scientists have been jailed, and what did it get them? Certainly not an end to infringement -- file-sharing is up in every country in the world. And for all the money the record industry has harvested from tech startups and music fans, not one dime has been paid to an artist.
Here's your chance to tell your Member of Parliament what you think. Kat sez, "Copyright for Canadians ) has a handy tool that makes it easy to email your MP about bill C-61. After you send your email, print it out, address an envelope and send a physical copy, too--no stamp necessary! Here's the address:
House of Commons
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