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Dear [your MP]
Member for [electoral district name]
Bill C-32, an act to amend the copyright act, was tabled on June 2, 2010. While this bill is promoted as a modernisation of Canadian copyright, the most controversial aspects of the bill pre-date the most recent major update of Canadian copyright in 1997. The two 1996 WIPO Internet treaties were authored at a time when some people saw new communications technology as a threat. The treaties were premised on the idea that if new technology can be abused to infringe copyright, then private citizens should not be allowed to own or control these technologies.
I strongly disagree with this idea, and believe that we should have our right to own and control communications technology protected in law. While this is important for all citizens, it is especially important for creators who rely on personal control of communications technology in order to create and communicate their art and other works of the mind on their own terms.
It is claimed that Canada is obligated to ratify these treaties because we signed them. It is important to remember that signing is to ratification like dating is to marriage. Many countries sign treaties which they later decide are not in their best interests, and never ratify. It is only after a country ratifies a treaty that they are legally obligated to honour it. The United States signed Kyoto and many other treaties that it later decided not to ratify.
It is claimed that Canadian copyright law is weak. There are many ways in which Canadian Copyright law is already stronger than the law of our trading partners, including the United States. Intellectual Property lawyer Howard Knopf has written many articles documenting how Canada’s copyright law is stronger than U.S.’s : http://excesscopyright.blogspot.com/2010/02/annual-301-parade-ustr-calls-for.html
It is claimed that current Canadian copyright law is harming copyright holders. The recording industry wants Canada to make massive changes to Canadian law, allegedly to give them the tools to sue people sharing music without permission. The problem with this claim is that the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal gave them a blueprint to sue in the "BMG vs. Doe" decisions. The recording industry lost those cases not because of Canadian Copyright law, but because of our strong Canadian Privacy Law which required that the recording industry provide evidence of infringing activity before the names of customers would be disclosed by ISPs.
Various industries commission studies that allege harm that copyright infringement is causing them. Each of these studies have been refuted. Parliament must ensure that studies they rely upon are not tainted by invalid assumptions of incumbent industry associations.
Bill C-32 is far more complex than the two 1996 WIPO treaties, and includes many things (including access control technological measures) which are not part of the two WIPO treaties. Given that Copyright law now regulates the activities of all Canadians, shouldn't government be introducing laws which simplify copyright, rather than omnibus bills that nobody can possibly understand the impacts of?
A series of frequently asked questions and answers has been authored for this bill at http://BillC32.ca/faq . It includes discussions of all the major sections of the bill. It describes how legal protection for technological measures impact areas of provincial jurisdiction such as contract, e-commerce and property law, and really has no place in federal Copyright law.
Would you be willing to meet with me and/or members of our community to discuss these issues?