I’ll keep this one short folks, I promise.
Do you use the internet (even watching videos on YouTube and Facebook counts)? Do you use an iPod/iPhone/iWhatever? Do you watch downloaded movies? Are you a student (or thinking of going back to school)? Then you’d better pay very close attention, because your beloved Federal Government under Stephen Harper is about to pull the rug out from under you.
If you somehow missed the bruhaha over the United States’ failed SOPA bill, you cannot afford to miss Canada’s attempt at the same thing. We’re very close to passing bill C-11, a bill sponsored by big media (notably movie studios, the music industry, and publishing giants) who want to control the way you access your music, TV, and books. They want this control because they are unable to cope with the digital economy, and want the Government to create laws that heavily restrict your actions, and impose ridiculous punishment.
Now I am no expert on these things, but I read someone who is: Professor Michael Geist of the University of Ottawa, the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-Commerce Law. (I mean, really, could you possibly get anyone better?) He has written some excellent articles on just how bad C-11 is — and has been very clear on how it could be improved so it’s not so terrible. (The Government, to no surprise, is not listening.)
I offer you the following from Geist’s blog. The intros here are my paraphrased summaries of the articles.
- Mr. Geist’s response to the CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association)’s op-ed saying that C-11 isn’t that bad (as you can guess, it really is that bad)
- The politics behind why Canada is keeping digital lock rules that will greatly hamper fair use of video, music, and books. That means: no more funny YouTube videos, and good luck at quoting books or articles for your research papers.
- The Canadian music industry threatens critics of C-11, effectively branding them as criminals. It’s the moronic “you’re either with or, or against us” stance.
- Mr. Geist asks ten key questions of the various copyright agreements. The answers aren’t pretty.
- What’s going on behind closed doors, and how these bills are ending up in our Legislature.
- Could YouTube become illegal in Canada?
- How US lobbyists are pressuring the US Government to exclude Canada from international agreements because we haven’t bowed to their demands. Worse still, they refuse to allow for any cultural considerations (remember, we are a multicultural nation!)
And he also visited with Strombo on the CBC to talk about C-11. It’s less than two minutes, and it explains just about everything. Even if you don’t read the above articles, you really should watch this video.
In short, our beloved Government is refusing to adopt the perspective that they represent the Canadian people. They are preferring to listen to corporations and corporate associations, and worse still — foreign corporations who have no business dictating our laws.
Okay, so what do you do?
First, sign up with OpenMedia’s petition. It only takes a moment, and every single little bit helps. (SOPA died in the United States because the vocal backlash was loud enough.)
Then, can I suggest sending the following text to the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture) Hon. Christian Paradis (email@example.com) (he’s the Minister putting C-11 forth, and hence is responsible for our impending nightmare), Nycole Turmel (firstname.lastname@example.org) (she’s our official, albeit interim, Leader of the Opposition), Hon. Bob Rae (email@example.com) (our most experienced elder statesman in Parliament), and your Canadian Member of Parliament.
Dear Gentlemen and Madams,
I am writing to express my deep concern regarding Bill C-11, now put forth in our Parliament.
While I am very much aware of the need to address copyright laws within Canada to ensure that they meet international agreements, the terms and conditions being put forth in C-11 appear to be overlooking the needs of the Canadian people, both in the present and in the future. These terms go far past those required by international agreement, and introduce unnecessary restriction and overly punitive damages.
The proposed conditions are being driven primarily by corporations, and are also heavily influenced by foreign governments and foreign corporations who have no right to comment on Canada’s laws. The Canadian Federal Government is supposed to stand for its people, yet we are being considered last in this process.
Please stop the blind approval of this damaging legislation and reopen it to Canadian legal experts who have offered wise and just opinion on how C-11 could still address the needs of Canadian law while not imposing unnecessary (and unfair) restrictions on law-abiding Canadians.
[Your name here. Please use a real one.]