In case you are not aware, the Goverment du Canada is holding the consultation on copyright which will ultimately will decide the fate of Canadian citizens’ use of digital media. One part of a democracy is to do your part. In opening this issue to Canadians, the government are doing theirs, but as citizens, we still have our part to play. Until 13 September (this Sunday), Canadians can participate by writing to the government, or better yet, by attending round table meetings about the issue. While the meetings are now closed, you can participate online in both official languages.
If passed, Canadians could be made criminals for ripping music they purchased to digital devices, including computers. This issue has nothing to do with file sharing; it is an arbitrary move by corporations to retain control over a population by ‘protecting’ what it terms as intellectual property. There is no doubt that something needs to be done. Piracy of music, movies, and games is a problem, but more staggering is the illegitimacy of alternative measures. Many, such as inclusion of Technological Protection Measures (TPM) go as far as to disable the hardware/software a person owns. It isn’t a long shot to imagine that with expanded legitimacy of such measures, electronic bugs, key loggers – anything which can report on every move an individual makes, could be construed as legal.
Alternate measures should not be put forth, should not be brainstormed, should not be sought by interested corporations. Alternatives need to be created by independent groups who have no monetary investment in the issue. If alternatives proposed by independent parties such as the Electronics Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights (CCER) aren’t considered equally by governments to constant lobbying by groups such as the ESA, citizens of every nation stand to lose. If freedom of speech is granted only to those with money and power; if governments only listen to those with the loudest voice, there is nothing to protect. There is no country, there is just corporation.
Other issues arise if the Canadian government decides in favour of the proposed amendment. Firstly, much of the pressure for reform comes from outside, from corporate lobby groups from the United States which have admitted to spying on Canadians, an act that would in other times, precipitate war. The ESA (Entertainment Software Agency of Canada) is a division of the lobby group ESA from the USA. Its activities which work to influence our politicians to preserve its own interests (profits) are nothing less than subversion.
This is not the Cold War anymore; people are not being thrown into jail on assumed communistic ties. Or are they? America’s government has given into corporate profit which seeks to spread the word, defying individuals and parties who object. The problem isn’t piracy or the loss of intellectual property. It isn’t artists’ rights. It is that bureaucracy begets bureaucracy; in this case, under its cumbersome weight, there is nothing left for the lumbering industry giants to do but seek greater support to prop up their bulk. Spurned by need, it does not see alternatives which, rather than warring an enemy, provide solutions for peace.
Spotify, while not perfect, is an interesting corporate move. Of course, personal privacy is void when using subscription based services, but at least on paper, it attracts with fair pricing, and pays artists for playtime. The future of ad hoc music and movies should be seriously considered and if not, something better. Alternatives other than those proposed at the behest of self-interested corporations are paramount. No nation would survive a witch hunt spearheaded by anything else.
Again, please take a look at the Government of Canada’s Consultation on Copyright and if interested, fill out the letter provided by the CCER, or write your own. By all means, let your voice be heard.