Reply to CBC's Sounds like Canada - podcasting, bad copyright law, and major label malware...

The following letter was sent as feedback to the CBC as well as to Marie-Chantale Turgeon.

I am excited to hear fellow creative Canadians talking with excitement about things such as "podcasting". Sounds Like Canada interviewed Marie-Chantale Turgeon about how she is now able to very cheaply create and communicate some of her own work without needing the very expensive, and very centrally controlled, infrastructure from the past.

In economic terms, new communications technologies have allowed the marginal cost -- the cost per additional unit -- for the reproduction and distribution of creativity to approach zero. Using peer production techniques we are also able to greatly reduce the fixed costs of production as well.

This is a massive opportunity for most Canadians. I am a software and non-software literary author who has embraced newer business models which harness this economic reality. By using business models which charge a one-time fee for my work, allowing the marginal price to be the marginal cost of zero, I never have to worry about the social, economic, and legal costs of counting copies.

What is good for me is obviously a competitive threat to the established media, content and "software manufacturing" industries. They have launched a massive worldwide offensive against any competitor using alternative methods of production, distribution and funding of creativity and innovation.

I am curious what Marie-Chantale would say to the federal Government about Bill C-60 which seeks to protect the incumbent industries from competition from people like her and I. Where the Heritage Minister and other government officials have claimed that this act is about reducing copyright infringement, abusing the politically loaded and inaccurate term "theft", this bill is really about protecting established businesses from much needed modernization.

Since the tools for creativity are being put into the hands of average Canadians, Copyright should be simplified so that we don't need a team of lawyers to protect our rights. Unfortunately the government seems intent on making copyright more complex, more expensive, and to only benefit the largest companies and their lawyers.

Some unscrupulous large copyright holders, such as Sony-BMG, have decided that it is OK to install harmful software on our computers. This is the type of activity of criminals such as virus authors, and yet the Canadian government is offering legal protection for this type of "technical measure" when used by copyright holders. These types of "technical measures" have nothing to do with Copyright law, and are really attempts to enforce (often secret) contracts. Like any type of contract we need to both protect valid contracts as well as protect consumers from invalid and/or harmful contracts.

Sony-BMG is currently being sued in a class-action lawsuit by music fans whose computers were damaged by a series of recent "music" CDs containing mis-named "Copy Control" technology. The claim from Sony-BMG that they were only protecting their copyright is further made suspect by evidence suggesting that they were infringing the copyright of various software authors on the same CD.

Russell McOrmond
Webmaster for

BLOG topic on "Digital Restrictions Management" (DRM)

Bill C-60 BLOG