04 January 2006

Copyright Politics - Free Trade We Don't Need

According to Michael Geist, we seem to be importing U.S.-style political funding by lobby groups for the recording and content industry. In particular, Liberal candidate in Toronto's Parkdale riding, Sarmite (Sam) Bulte, has received significant donations from CRIA (music industry lobbyists) and CMPDA (movie industry lobbyists), as well as a recent industry-sponsored fundraising dinner. (Turns out that Bulte reached her cap on donations in 2005, so the fundraiser was held over until 2006 to get around the fundraising cap "technicality.") Geist reports that candidates (from any party willing to toe the CRIA/CMPDA line) can access thousands of dollars of support - support that inevitably works against the interests of all Canadians, and often against the interests of the artists themselves:
the revelations of recent days (Campaign Contributions, Tipping Point, That's What Friends Are For) suggest that we are not in a balanced debate searching for the policies that are best for all Canadians. Sam Bulte accepts thousands of dollars in contributions from the stronger copyright law lobby and brazenly holds a fundraiser for more money days before the election. The funders justify their contributions by noting that they needed to avoid the annual financing cap and that they balance the process by funding MPs from both parties.

Cory Doctorow blogs about this issue, and there is a page from Digital Copyright Canada that highlights the issues in Parkdale riding, in which opponent Peggy Nash from the NDP has a good chance of unseating incumbant Bulte this time around.

I had the opportunity to hear Sam Bulte, who was chair of Parliamentary Committee looking at copyright reform, speak at a symposium on copyright issues in Canada. To be frank, I was appalled at her glib spouting of industry propaganda, while not being able to convey any thoughtful commentary on the issue. It would be entirely inappropriate and sexist of me to call her a "spokesmodel" for the entertainment industry, but, damn it, that's the impression she made in front of several hundred people who gathered at U of T's Faculty of Law "Sound Bytes/Sound Right" conference.

The ramifications of copyright - and other "intellectual property" law - reforms goes well beyond the simplistic framing of downloading music. As we have seen in the recent Sony debacle, this issue touches what you are allowed to do with stuff that you legitimately buy and presumably own. The problem is that, if these industry lobbyists have their way, you will only be able to own what they want you to own, but pay for much, much more.
[Technorati tags: | | | | ]

No comments: