NDP Makes No Apology for Copyright Stance

The major drama was sparked by a Toronto town hall meeting when it was found out that the copyright industry stacked the deck in their favour. The fallout exploded when students and NDP MP Olivia Chow – the wife of NDP leader Jack Layton – was threatened by private security at the meeting and an American music group called fair copyright “disgusting”. The NDP fired back by saying they won’t apologize and they aren’t departing from their platform by taking up this stance.

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

It’s becoming the low-light of the whole consultation in Canada. The Toronto town hall meeting had already been stacked in the foreign copyright industry’s favour. Even more dramatic fallout has since emerged.

We reported yesterday on how Canadian students and NDP MP Olivia Chow – wife of NDP leader Jack Layton – were targeted by private security for handing out fliers which included an interview with NDP MP Charlie Angus. They were threatened to be ejected from the premises unless they stopped handing out those fliers which detailed their stance on copyright issues. Shortly after, an American group circulated an e-mail accusing the NDP of departing from their party platform to buy votes from young people by supporting fair copyright. They labelled the move as “disgusting” and demanded an apology from the NDP for taking such a stance which included a broadening of fair dealing.

The NDP have responded to the accusations and apology demand.

“The fallout has been very bizarre.” Charlie Angus commented. He adds, “A copyright lobbyist with the American federation of Musicians is circulating an online e-mail demanding the NDP apologize for our “disgusting” position on balanced copyright.”

He responded to the fact that they had received such flack over handing out copies of an interview from the American organisation, “Seems to me the interview is consistent with what the NDP have always said on this file — we want artists to be able to benefit from the massive stream of information being traded but we don’t want average citizens turned into criminals.”

“I was elected to participate in discussions about public policy. I have never heard of a lobbyist group demand an apology for speaking out about a totally botched piece of legislation like Bill C-61. If they spent less time running e-mail attacks and more time speaking with the various players they might realize that the NDP position has been balanced and consistent from the beginning.”

He then responded to the apology demand, “As for a public recanting to satisfy the C-61 lobby ? Sorry, dude….it ain’t happening.”

As alluded to earlier in a previous report of ours, it’s hard try and find anything that requires any sort of apology unless it’s suddenly public taboo to exercise free speech in Canada.

It already does little to help the stance of copyright maximalists by stacking the deck at a town hall meeting – only serve to remind people that if there is opposition to the demands of the foreign copyright lobbyists, then the arguments fall apart – hence the need to keep opposition out of the debate. It further undermines the argument when what the foreign copyright lobbyists make enemies with an elected political party in the process as well – not just the general public.

What we’ve already seen in the public consultation is hundreds of people making submissions calling for a relaxed copyright law in some form or another. We have people from organizations that represent pretty much every background related to copyright, including librarians, educators and musicians, calling for effectively the same thing. Then the opposition, which mainly consists of foreign interests, enter the debates completely outnumbered make arguments that have been dissected and disproven time and time again. Then when they realize the debate is not going their way, they rig meetings and turn it into an uncivilized shouting match as we are clearly seeing between AFM and the NDP. Unless you are getting fed huge wads of cash, it’s hard to even take a copyright maximalist seriously. After all, they already proclaimed the whole consultation “useless” through Barry Sookman earlier. This is not to say they couldn’t approach this consultation in a more civil and respectable manner, but so far, the copyright industry have yet to choose to do so in several instances.

There’s still time left in the consultation for many more to make submissions and suggestions. Maybe things will turn around and be more stable toward the final legs of the consultation. Maybe the debate will degenerate even more from here. Who knows? All we know is that the Toronto town hall meeting has, thus far, proven to be a low light of the whole consultation and it reflects badly on those who want tighter copyright laws in the eyes of the public.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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