Today is WIPO's World Intellectual Property Day, and to help mark the occasion, the Digital Copyright Canada mailing list (which I'm part of) is organizing an official petition to Parliament. Note that this is to be a real official petition, not one of those online things, and as such there are fairly strict rules that have to be followed as far as the procedures for collecting signatures. The relevant information is at the above-linked page; I encourage you to go look, and if you agree with it, sign up. You must be a Canadian resident to participate by signing, but I encourage everyone to spread the word about it online so that we can reach as many Canadian residents as possible. Press release below.
OTTAWA - A national coalition of musicians, software developers, photographers and others from across the country intends to use World Intellectual Property Day to remind the government that copyright is about protecting creativity, not the music industry.
On April 26, the public coalition will launch a national petition calling for Parliament to respect public rights in the Copyright Act.
"Copyright was crafted as a careful balance between the rights of creators and the rights of the public," said Chris Brand, the Vancouver software developer who started the petition. "The music industry is waging a systematic campaign to convince Canadians that we have no rights or that exercising our rights is morally wrong. They call us pirates."
"We hope to collect 100,000 signatures over two months." said Brand, "We will then deliver these to Parliament to remind them how the electorate feels about these issues." Signature gathering is being coordinated online at http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition.shtml
When the Federal Court of Canada last month ruled that sharing music over the Internet was legal under Canada's copyright law, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Helene Scherrer, vowed to change the law to protect the music industry.
"Here's a person who has been on the job for less than two months. Minister Scherrer, who I've contacted about this grave issue, comes back from a weekend at the Junos and feeling confident enough to make wholesale amendments to a very complex piece of legislation? Where's the public consultation? Who is the Honourable Minister talking to other than the major record labels?" asked an incredulous Neil Leyton, a Toronto-based musician and head of independent music label, Fading Ways Records Ltd.
"The law was never meant to protect just the music industry," continued Leyton. "It was meant to also promote creativity. Those aren't necessarily synonymous goals. Anytime CRIA claims to speak for all musicians and song-writers, a red light goes off. We all know the dangers of organizations that claim to speak for everyone."
The government has indicated they will make major changes to copyright by the end of this year, but Russell McOrmond, an Ottawa software developer, community activist and one of the petitioners worries about what the impacts may be for his business and clients.
"The recording industry successfully lobbied for the levy on blank media which is what made unauthorized music downloading for personal use legal. These same people, along with big media and monopolistic software companies are also pushing for quick ratification of the WIPO copyright treaties, parts of which seeks to take away our ownership and control of communications tools", says Russell McOrmond. "It has always been the case that the same tools used by creators have been able to be abused by infringers. This is true whether the tool is a VCR, home computer, the Internet, or a guitar and ones own vocal chords. Taking control away from creative Canadians and their audiences is not a valid solution to any perceived problems."
World Intellectual Property Day was started by the World Intellectual Property Organization to highlight the significance of creativity and innovation in people's daily lives and in the betterment of society.
Contact Fading Ways Music PR Astrid Bin at 416.537.3796 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Fading Ways Music's CopyLeft licensing: http://www.fadingwaysmusic.com/mission.html
Russell McOrmond, FLORA Community Consulting http://www.flora.ca (613) 733-5836
Chris Brand 604.521.0441 or email@example.com
[Petition for Users' Rights]