Where does Minister Frulla really stand on cultural policy?

The following letter was sent to the Hill Times.

Re: Culture part of Canadian identity goes beyond NAFTA, says Minister Frulla (Page 2, September 7, 2005 issue of Hill Times)

I find it disturbing that federal Heritage Minister Liza Frulla claims that the UNESCO cultural diversity convention is a big personal achievement as a politician. Will she also claim as an achievement the passage of her Bill C-60 and the implementation of the 1996 WIPO treaties, even though Bill C-60 directly conflicts with the UNESCO convention?

The UNESCO convention recognizes that cultural policy is about far more than protecting the special economic interests of the old-economy industry associations who historically controlled the primary mechanisms of production and distribution of culture. This is a concept the US government strongly rejects given US industry greatly benefits from this control.

The 1996 WIPO treaties came out of United Stated Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) policy from earlier in 1995 (search for "Lehman report"). The policy didn't pass domestically, so they took these ill-conceived ideas to WIPO. The purpose of this classic policy laundering was to protect the primarily US based incumbent media, entertainment and "software manufacturing" companies from competition from new methods of production, distribution and funding of creativity. The claim is that these treaties reduce "copyright infringement", but in reality they simply make more activities into infringement with the goal of stopping competition.

Is the Heritage Minister entirely unaware of the origins and goals of the 1996 WIPO treaties, or is her claimed support of the UNESCO cultural diversity convention simply a whitewash to distract Canadians from her promotion of US industry interests?

Will the Minister stand up and recognize that Canadian culture needs protection *FROM* Bill C-60? Will she recognize that not only should Canada fully reject the 1996 WIPO treaties, but that we should stand with those countries including Brazil, Argentina and the other friends of development who seek critical reform of WIPO? WIPO must recognize that its mandate is not to protect the incumbent US media, entertainment and "software manufacturing" companies from competition!

Russell McOrmond
Ottawa, Ontario
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