First, here is the letter I sent to the P.M.
Mr. Prime Minister
Sir, as a member of ACTRA, SOCAN and the SAC, I am a creator of intellectual
properties, a stake holder. I am deeply concerned with issues of copyright
as it effects my work and as it effects the audience for my work.
New legislation intended to update Canadian copyright law has been placed on
the Notice Paper for this coming week's session of Parliament. Every
indication points to a piece of legislation that mimics the deeply flawed
and dangerous DMCA enacted in the United States. Industry Minister Jim
Prentice has put this legislation forward with no input from the creative
sector or from Canadian consumers. The path he has chosen is one that has
done great damage to businesses and individuals in the United States. It has
resulted in excess of 20,000 lawsuits and the serial abuse of DMCA takedown
notices. It has criminalized the consumer and harmed artists, all while
solving none of the problems it was intended to address.
I, along with many other Canadian artists, ask you to withdraw this
legislation and reconsider the goals of copyright protections going into the
future. Mr. Prentice's bill places fair use provisions at risk, this will
have a devastating effect on education, culture and business. We have
already seen documentaries being withdrawn from circulation by the NFB due
to the onerous demands of rights renewals. The major Canadian labels have
all joined in condemnation of this anti-consumer legislation. Nettwerk
records, home to Sarah McLachlan, Avril Levigne and Sum 41, has walked away
from the CRIA. Anthem Records home to Rush, has abandoned the CRIA. The
Barenaked Ladies have worked diligently to represent a positive example of
new business models that do not make enemies of their fans. All of these
artists and labels recognize that they must adapt to a changing paradigm in
both delivery and use of their works.
The powerful lobbying groups that speak for a handful of very large,
offshore corporations are not working for the interest and benefit of
Canadians. Canadian law should never be shaped to benefit foreign cartels
and conglomerates at the expense of Canadian citizens. There is a
groundswell of opposition to this intended legislation. I and many of my
peers are prepared to speak out and work against the locking down of our
technology and culture. We will not stop working against legislation that
breaks technology and impedes culture. To do so would be un-Canadian. This
is not a partisan issue, this is about our heritage and our future.
I hope your government will reconsider the wisdom of following what has
proven to be a deeply flawed path. Please sir, withdraw this legislation and
engage in the responsibility and transparency you promised Canadians.
I look forward to your response on this issue.
And here is the response I received from L. A. Lavell,
Dear Ms. Stewart:
On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to thank you for
your e-mail, in which you raised an issue which falls within the portfolio of
the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry. The Prime Minister always
appreciates receiving correspondence on subjects of importance to Canadians.
Please be assured that the statements you made have been carefully reviewed. I
have taken the liberty of forwarding your e-mail to Minister Prentice, so that
he too may be made aware of your comments. I am certain that the Minister will
give your views every consideration. For more information on the Government's
initiatives, you may wish to visit the Prime Minister's Web site, at
Executive Correspondence Officer
for the Prime Minister's Office
Agent de correspondance
de la haute direction
pour le Cabinet du Premier ministre
Mr. or Ms L. A. Lavell:
Not that it has any particular bearing on the issue at hand but I am not a woman. Yes, it is one of those names, thanks for presuming. As to the content of your note I have a few thoughts, I have a gut feeling that the Prime Minister doesn't give a toss about what is important to Canadians unless those concerns come wrapped in votes or written on cheques.
As for your assurance that my statement has been "carefully reviewed", I'd like to see some evidence of that, thank you very much. A careful review might result in a response to the points raised, a clarification or even a rebuttal. Your so called careful review appears to delve no deeper than to see who you can abdicate your boss's responsibility to. Mr. Prentice has quite distinctly shown that he has no interest in addressing the concerns of Canadians or his constituents. He has refused to answer concerns about the impending legislation. He has admitted that he is acting under pressure from the CEOs of media companies. Which is why I have written to the Prime Minister, L. A. Lavell. But you have taken the liberty to divert my letter away from the attention of Mr. Harper, which I am sure he appreciates even more than receiving correspondence on subjects of importance to Canadians.
You are certain that Minister Prentice will give my views every consideration. Well, there is no need to be telling lies to a citizen. Minister Prentice has shown no inclination to consider the views, opinions or legitimate concerns of Canadians as regards copyright reform legislation. There have been no public consultations, he has rebuffed the concerns of the educational sector, he has ignored Canadian artists and Canadian owned and operated music labels. Minister Prentice has evidently decided that he is employed to serve a small handful of corporate masters from outside of Canada and to please the administration to our south. The repercussions of the legislation he will be tabling before the house will have a long lasting impact on the very fabric of Canadian culture. The continued profitability of a few global conglomerates has taken precedence over the rights, the concerns and the future of Canadian citizens and home grown businesses. That is quite plainly unacceptable.
We are expecting the legislation to be tabled tomorrow, Tuesday, December 11. There are a great many articulate and passionate advocates for fair and reasonable copyright legislation. We are educating our friends and families about what is at stake, we are organizing and spreading the word. There is a storm building and Mr. Prentice and Mr. Harper have done nothing to stem the rising anger of a people who will not lightly allow their rights to be sold off. Anyone that imagines Canadians are a soft people, easy to mold and step over is in for a surprise and a fight. This is not a partisan issue and these concerns cross party lines. We will not stand idly by.