Patrick O'Connor (Provencher, NDP)

I am Patrick O´Connor, the NDP candidate in Provencher Manitoba.

I am a self-employed computer consultant and developer and I share many of your concerns. The Minister and others in charge of copyright law should not be in conflict of interest by accepting funds from organizations with a vested interest in copyright law.

I am opposed to technical measures that claim to be used to protect copyright, but end up acting like SpyWare and other malware and even helping malware like the recent Sony system.

I would like to go into this in greater depth, but I do not have time to do so in the middle of the election.

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It's About Time

I live in the Provencher riding and had sent the following e-mail out to all the candidates just after Christmas:

I am a constituent of the Provencher Riding and, as of yet, am undecided on which candidate I will support in the upcoming election. I have well acquainted myself with the various Party’s stances on the main issues they deem to be important, however, I would like to take this opportunity to inquire on issues that I feel has not received its due attention; biased copyright revision, unjust digital protection measures, and the overall eroding of public rights.

As you are no doubt aware, Bill C-60, which “enacts the amendments identified in the Government Statement on Proposals for Copyright Reform” was introduced in June 2005 mainly as the result of lobbying (and to the delight) of large music labels and software manufacturers (none of which base their operations in Canada). However, the reforms put forward were, not surprisingly, imbalanced towards copyright holders and removed many of the rights currently enjoyed by the purchasers of the copyrighted material (who are usually dehumanly categorize as “consumers”). I would like to point out that the overwhelming majority of the copyright holders who lobbied for this legislation are not the artists or creators of these works, but corporate entities and intermediaries who barter and trade copyrights as commodities, yet like to portray the act of purchaser’s exercising their ownership rights with these products as stealing from a figurative “starving artist”.

I would encourage you to visit the websites of various Canadian Public Rights advocates, such as Michael Geist (www.michaelgeist.ca), the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC, www.cippic.ca), Online Rights Canada (ORC, www.onlinerights.ca), and Russell McOrmond’s Digital Copyright Canada (www.digital-copyright.ca), as information sources on the potential effect Bill C-60 may have produced, had it been enacted. I would also direct you to a Globe and Mail article by copyright lawyer Howard Knopf that explains how, by following the letter of the law of Bill C-60, Google or any other Internet search and archiving engines would have been illegal in Canada (link).

I would also like to bring to your attention the recent Sony rootkit incident. The Sony incident, which you may already be aware, resulted from the installation of Technological Protection Measures (TPM, of which Digital Rights Management (DRM) software is an example) by Sony music discs when inserted in a computer CD-Rom. Rather than reprint the details of the incident, I will direct you to link, a timeline of the incident (please note that this link is to part 1 of 5, as seen at the top of the article, and please pay particular attention to the response of this incident by Sony BMG Global Digital Business President Thomas Hesse at the bottom of page 1). I will also direct you to the two-page report of Sony’s tentative settlement to avoid litigation in the U.S. as reported in Canada.com (link). Please note that, as the article states, “Canadians are excluded from the settlement, leaving thousands of consumers without compensation and protection against ongoing TPM misuse unless Sony Canada agrees to be bound by the same settlement terms.”

Very recently, another incident involving DRM and the limitations of customer rights was reported (link), in which the record label EMI released a CD by one of their more popular artists (Coldplay) that could not be copied to a CD-R or computer hard disk, or converted to MP3 (for iPod usage for instance). This violates the U.S. fair-use copyright clause, incidentally. Also prohibited is playing the CD in the following devices:
• CD players with burning capabilities
• CD players with read CD-RW drives
• Car navigation systems
• Portable CD-players
• Some DVD players
• Apple Macintosh computers
These restrictions are well documented on the inside of the CD jewel case, which, oh course, prevents its return for a refund due to both the product now being unwrapped and the last restriction listed; “Except for manufacturing problems, we do not accept product exchange, return or refund."

There are many other examples of what is deemed as “copywrong” and eradication of public rights, however, in keeping this correspondence at a reasonable length, I will again refer you to Michael Geist’s website (www.michaelgeist.ca) and the various categories along the right hand side of the webpage. As well, I will direct you to his article outlining a copyright pledge that should be affirmed by the leaders of all the Canadian political parties (link) and has already been accepted by Ron Gray, leader of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada (link). I also encourage you to complete the CIPPIC Election Internet Issues questionnaire (http://www.cippic.ca/en/projects-cases/election-2006/) and submit your answers to Digital Copyright Canada (http://www.digital-copyright.ca).

I hope that you will take the time to consider the information that I’ve present and will provide me with your thoughts and opinions on these issues. Please note that I will be submitting this email, as well as any answer you provide (including if you chose not to respond) to Digital Copyright Canada. Also note that I am sending this e-mail to all the candidates of the Provencher Riding.

Thank you for your time and I wish you good luck in the election.

Michael Bertram

Mr. O'Connor has just gotten himself another vote