here is an email i sent to my m.p., karen redman, recently appointed caucus whip of her majesty's loyal opposition. i spoke at some length with ms. redman during the last election, i blogged about that conversation back here.
Dear Ms. Redman,
During the last Federal election you knocked on my door in the Victoria School Village. You were gracious enough to engage me in a discussion of several issues. One area of concern I had was with copyright reform. At the time, I addressed the unfortunate propensity of your former colleague Sarmite Bulte to accept funding from multi-national entertainment conglomerates. I was active in lending my voice to those condemning her poor choice of sugar daddies. Conservative Heritage Minister Bev Oda has also sought and accepted large sums of money from major, non-Canadian copyright holders in the entertainment industry. Only a public shaming has stopped yet another fundraiser on her behalf.
In recent months, notable Canadian artists and entertainment companies have spoken out against the excessive and over reaching attempts to cripple Canadain copyright law, scuttle fair use and fair dealing provisions and open the doors to endless litigation against and at the expense of Canadian consumers. Among the casualties are the creators of documentaries. The following link is a chilling and sad tale of abuse. As I am sure you know, the National Film Board of Canada is an organiztion that has won numerous awards around the world. The NFB has developed an international reputation for producing, supporting and maintaining Canadian works that fall outside the mainstream of entertainment. I would go so far as to say that the NFB is a signal repository and bulwark of Canadian heritage and culture.
We as a nation are facing the loss of our documentary heritage as copyright clearance fees and renewals sky rocket in cost. Important works are being locked away, never to be seen again. This is a crime against our nation, our cultures and heritage. I implore you to examine this learned paper and raise your voice in Parliament against this trend that dimishes our great nation.
Canada's lost documentaries.
I realize that copyright is a dry and unexciting area but it is vital. Recently, artists of both humble and international repute have taken a stance against the litigious and extranational interests working to undermine Canada's history of freedom of expression and fair use. The Barenaked Ladies have been champions of this cause. The CRIA, an organization that falsely purports to represent the interests of Canadian artists, has been abandoned by virtually all of this nation's major recording companies. Notably Nettwerk, home to Sarah McLaughlin, Avril Levigne and other high profile Canadian artists has walked out on CRIA. The truth is that CRIA represents the interests of Sony, BMG, Universal Music Group, EMI and the the world's largest and most notorious anti-consumeer conglomerates. Their practice of suing children and families is disturbing. These are the people from whom Bev Oda receives very large cheques. These are the people who are supposed to be regulated by the Heritage Minister. These are the people who are trying to buy legislation in our Parliament.
Canadian law professor Michael Geist has been a key in the battle to protect Canadian law from rapacious interests. I urge you to visit his site, http://www.michaelgeist.ca/. Canadian author Cory Doctorow has also worked tirelessly to document incursions against the reasonable and fair use of copyright material. He is one of the bloggers at http://www.boingboing.net (which offers a treasure trove of fun and interesting articles on all manner of art, invention and culture).
In the interest of disclosure, I am a Canadian creator of original works of music, literature and art. I am a member of SOCAN and ACTRA. As a working artist I see this as a vital issue for the future of Canadian art, artists, culture and education. I sincerely hope that you can find the time to look into these areas, raise the issues in caucus and on the floor of the house.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing your position on these matters.
i sent this to her offices on december 8, 2006. to date, i have received no response. one of my new hobbies is going to be writing letters to the people that we elected to look after our interests, on our behalf and on our account. i will be posting the text of such letters and i encourage everyone to get involved in this exciting new hobby. i like to call it participatory democracy. when these posts occur, please feel free to copy, alter and personalize the wording for your own letters to parliament. when writing to your elected representatives, always be polite, stress your concerns and ask them to respond. if you blog, post your letters and post their responses, should they decide to write back. i'll be posting resources as i get them organized.