Letter to Industry Minister about software patents

May 31, 2005

Dear Hon. David Emerson, Minister of Industry,

I am enclosing an article about Software Patents that describes the worldwide market situation, with specific reference to the special interest lobbying in the European Union. The European Patent Convention (EPC) was signed by its core member states in 1973 and went into force in 1978, when the European Patent Office (EPO) was established on its basis. The EPC specifically excluded "schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers" (reference 1) from patentability based on very sound public policy reasons. There is now a powerful lobby, including software companies facing major competitive threats from alternative business models, that are seeking to remove these important exclusions.

Letter to Minister of Canadian Heritage about court decision.

Dear Honourable Liza Frulla,

Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Two important decisions were made available to Canadians today. In parliament a few hours ago, by the narrowest of margins, the Liberal government survived a non-confidence vote. This morning the Federal Court of Appeal handed down a decision that confirmed that the privacy rights of Canadians would be respected on the Internet.

Your words, as quoted by the media around the Junos, suggest that you had had not read or understood the earlier decision of the Federal Court by the Honourable Mr. Justice von Finckenstein (Citation: 2004 FC 488) that was being appealed. You falsely claimed that Canadian copyright law needed to be changed in order to clarify that unauthorized distribution of music via the Internet was illegal. You falsely claimed that the recording industry did not already have the legal tools to sue. Given this, I am including a copy of the appeal of this decision with the hopes that you will read it, and stop spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) about Canada's copyright act. If Canadians are confused about the legality of unauthorized distribution of music via the Internet, I believe you should accept some personal responsibility for this given your own words have suggested something that simply is not true.

When will the USA be added to their own "Special 301 report"

There are many policy makers like law like Heritage Minister Lisa Frulla who is entirely uninformed on copyright law and precedent. They may have read the Special 301 report and believe that Canada's laws are somehow not in accordance with international standards. The reality is that the USA has similar debates within their own country, with US Judge Patel Shoots Down Notion That the Right of Distribution Includes "Making Available". This is very similar to the second part ("making available") of the judgment from Canadian Justice Von Finckenstein.

Request for clarification of Conservative Party Policy Declaration (copyright, patent, etc)

The following was sent in an email to key Conservative members of parliament.

As we head into an election, our community would appreciate answers some questions so that they can be used to help in our decision about who to support. While the questions are my own, I am trying to represent a group of new-media creators and audiences. The questions will focus on patent and copyright, including both domestic and foreign policy perspectives on these areas of policy. We wish to receive clarifications of some of the related policy statements from the March 19, 2005 policy declaration.

Are the words of the current Minister of Heritage what the Liberals want to go to election with?

The following letter was sent by Russell McOrmond to the Honourable Liza Frulla, Minister of Canadian Heritage, in reply to a letter received. It was also copied to the "discuss" forum.

Dear Honourable Liza Frulla, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

I would like to thank Luc Rouleau, Director, Ministerial Correspondence Secretariat, for the reply letter dated April 12, 2005. I made that letter publicly available so more Canadians may read the government response: http://www.digital-copyright.ca/discuss/4734

Correspondence with Mr. Rajotte

I have been corresponding with James Rajotte, and offered a detailed reply to a letter his assistant wrote on February 18th, 2005.

The position offered is consistent with what I hear from others. It keeps the debate at the highest level where nearly everyone agrees. Once we dive into the details of how to achieve these common goals, the opposing methods show themselves.

The debate in copyright is not about these common goals, but about the methods to achieve these goals, and what existing (or proposed) policies are in opposition to these goals.

Letter: Parliament must protect citizens rights in the information age!

Michael Geist's article suggested we contact MPs about Digital Rights Management (DRM, also called "copy protection", or "technological measures that are used by authors in connection with the exercise of their rights"). My letter copied to the Industry and Heritage ministers and critics was copied to the Discuss forum.

Mr. James Rajotte and Hon. Liza Frulla speak in support of WIPO treaty ratification...

From the Hansard for Friday, November 26, 2004. Obviously letters from constituents and other Canadians are needed to inform these members that what the recording industry is asking for will not help Canadian musicians, but harm them.

A letter was sent in response.

Music Industry

Mr. James Rajotte (Edmonton—Leduc, CPC): Mr. Speaker, in 1996 the government signed the World Intellectual Property Organization treaty. The treaty was necessary to update our copyright laws to ensure that our artists such as Tom Cochrane, Amy Sky and Blue Rodeo received fair compensation for the music they create.

The Conservative Party supports amending our copyright laws to be in accordance with international standards.

Torvalds Dubbed Most Influential Executive of 2004

CRN has named Linus Torvalds the most influential executive of 2004. IBM's Palmisano is #2, and Microsoft's Ballmer is #3.

I sent a message to the Industry Minister and critics to let them know that the most influential executive of 2004 is also a strong opponent to software patents.

Reply to questions from Mr James Rajotte (Conservative, Edmonton--Leduc)

Dear Mr. McOrmond,

Thank you for your comments in your e-mail of June 2. I enjoyed your testimony in front of the standing committee with respect to C-2.

I wanted to raise several comments and policies with you.

The Conservative Party platform states that Stephen Harper will encourage a competitive intellectual property regime in Canada. This issue is particulary important with respect to health care, and with respect to improving our productivity.

In addition, I have written in the Hill Times that intellectual property is strongly linked to innovation. Of the 10 companies that filed the most patents in Canada in 2001, only one was headquartered in Canada - Nortel. Entities from foreign countries filed 29,000 more patents than Canadians in 2001.

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