The issue is copyright reform

This blog is not about politics so I didn’t discuss the past election, other than a post last week about the role of the Internet. I did follow Michael Geist and CopyrightWatch on the Toronto riding where copyright became an election issue, especially the question on the Liberal incumbant receiving monetary support from the media industry. For me, copyright is a critical issue in the economic and cultural development of our country, and it seems that more Canadians agree.

From Michael Geist:

But they are not the most important part of the story.  More important than the story about blogs, is the substantive lessons to be learned from the past three weeks.  Building on a copyrightwatch post that mines the same theme, I offer three:


First, the recent events send a clear message that Canadians want copyright policy (and indeed all policy making) to be both fair and to be seen to be fair.  That means accounting for all stakeholders and removing the lobbyist influence from the equation.  My article on the role of the lobby groups in the copyright process attracted considerable interest as many people expressed surprise at just how badly the system is broken.  It was this message that resonated with many people in the riding who may know little about copyright policy, but can identify a perceived conflict of interest when they see one.  Going forward, all parties must work to clean up copyright.


Second, among the most important voices in the debate came from artists such as Matthew Good, Steven Page, and Neil Leyton.  As groups such as CRIA were rightly identified as lobbyists who represent predominantly foreign interests, Canadian artists and Canadian interests began to speak up.  If (or more likely when) a new copyright bill comes to committee, it will be incumbent on Canada’s politicians to hear not only from the lobby groups, but also from the creators and users, many of whom are singing a much different tune from the lobbyists.


Third, this could have been about any issue, but it wasn’t.  It was about copyright.  Copyright is often described as a fringe issue, yet to millions of Canadians it has an enormous impact on their daily lives, affecting education, culture, creativity, the use of personal property, privacy, and security.  Labeling those concerned with these issues as pro-user zealots or claiming that this is merely about music downloading is to miss a much bigger story and to fail to connect with a segment of the population.


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