American Music Group Finds Fair Canadian Copyright ‘Disgusting’

Things are heating up as foreign interests beef up their rhetoric in the last few legs of the Canadian copyright consultation. The American Federation of Musicians responded to a political party’s (NDP) call for balanced copyright “disgusting”.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

The copyright industry, which consists of almost entirely foreign interests, have already resorted to insulting the process. Throughout the whole process, a vast majority of Canadian submissions have called for expanding fair dealings and blocking blanket anti-circumvention legislation to name just two.

The tiny minority of people who have called for tighter copyright laws are feeling, unsurprisingly, threatened. The copyright industry managed to rig the most recent town hall meeting so as to shut out any dissenting voices to their calls.

Just hours after news broke that they stacked an entire townhall meeting in their favour, the Canadian Federation of Students revealed that when they found out about last minute changes to the consultation, they attempted to hand out fliers at the town hall meeting only to be threatened with arrest by security. From their press release:

Heritage Minister James Moore and Industry Minister Tony Clement have been leading a round of public consultations on copyright reform. Thursday night’s meeting was one of two town halls designed to facilitate discussion from hundreds of live participants and online followers.

Because of the last-minute introduction of a lottery system that did not guarantee those participating the right to speak, students attempted to circulate a flyer detailing their position on copyright reform. Event organisers used private security guards to prevent the distribution of the flyers, threatening to remove the students from the premises of the hotel where the consultation was being held. The flyers contained an introduction to copyright that provided a summary of the results of campus copyright consultations held by the Canadian Federation of Students throughout Spring 2009.

“With the ever increasing cost of education, students should not have to pay even more to access the material they require to be able to study, research, and learn,” said Melanson. “It is ironic that while students are concerned that new legislation may allow copyright owners to lock up information, the government is locking up its own consultations.”

Here’s a copy of the flier that was handed out (PDF)

While not everyone agrees that the government is playing a roll in trying to tip the balance of the debate into the foreign copyright industry’s favour, there is increasing evidence that this is the case.

NDP MP Olivia Chow also helped to distribute the fliers, so she knows all about the incident where students were threatened with arrest. Unfortunately, the fallout has since deepened with the American Federation of Musicians issuing an e-mail, calling the calls for “balanced copyright” “disgusting”. Michael Geist has a copy of that e-mail:

Greetings to all.

I am attaching a flyer that was handed out by Olivia Chow at last night’s Copyright Town Hall meeting at the Royal York in Toronto. I am sure all of you will find its content equally as disgusting as I did.

In light of the fact that the NDP at its convention in Halifax this month dealt with a resolution identified as 6-21-09 Expanding Party Policy on “Supporting Canadian Creativity”, and showed clear support for “ensuring appropriate copyright protection so that creators are fairly compensated for their intellectual property”, I am shocked that both Chow and Charlie Angus are allowed to openly depart from party policy and directive, obviously just to shamelessly buy votes among young people and academics.

We intend on taking the NDP to task over this, and will accept nothing less than a retraction of Ms Chow’s statements and an apology.

What is there to apologize for? Exercising free speech or is the American Federation of Musicians also against free speech in general? Was it not enough to threaten your opponents with arrest and rig an entire town hall meeting, now you demand an apology because someone disagrees with you in a country where a vast majority of people who have spoken on the issue of copyright disagrees with you? Who’s really the disgusting one here?

It’s increasingly obvious that the copyright industry saw the consultation as a means where average Canadians can speak their mind and found it a threat to their outdated business models. So they have opted to fighting it on every level, by trying to paint it as a waste of time, then going so far as to hijack it to make it so that only one opinion is heard and even threaten their opponents with arrest — those opponents do include Canadian businesses, Canadian artists, Canadian consumers, Canadian educators and students, Canadian record labels, Canadian libraries and now, even Canadian MPs as well. We have a foreign copyright industry trying to meddle in the internal affairs of Canada and they are doing so by purveying myths that simply do not stack up to scrutiny whatsoever when real evidence is put forth.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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