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Dear [your MP]
Member for [electoral district name]
I have been made aware of the fact that a new Copyright bill was to be tabled in December, and will now be tabled some time after parliament returns at the end of January 2008. While we will not know the exact wording of the bill until it is tabled, the Minister of Heritage has already stated that, "The Government of Canada, led by the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages, is working toward bringing Canadian copyright policy into conformity with the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaties."
The 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 all have our right to own and control communications technology protected in law. On this basis alone I believe Canada should not ratify these treaties.
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 articles documenting how Canada’s copyright law is stronger and better than U.S.’s : http://excesscopyright.blogspot.com/2007/11/canadas-copyright-law-is-stronger-and.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 stronger 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.
The upcoming copyright act is expected to be far more complex than the 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?
Would you be willing to meet with me and/or members of our community to discuss these issues?