Election 2004: Winnipeg South Centre

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Letter to James Allum, NDP

Mr. Allum,

I live in River Heights (Winnipeg South Centre) and am also involved with "Digital Copyright Canada" [ http://www.digital-copyright.ca/ ], a citizens' forum for people concerned about the future of Canadian Copyright law. This group has mobilized due to recent, yet low-profile, activities in government that can potentially overhaul Canadian Copyright law and impact many facets of education, research, industry, and consumer rights.

Many of us are IT professionals, Engineers, and software developers. We feel that the changes to Copyright Law being discussed would benefit large corporations but would have a significant detrimental effect upon the rights of citizens, researchers, and the rest of industry.

Under the Liberals, particularly the Heritage Minsiter, there has been a move to revise Canadian copyright law so that it shifts the balance of rights towards creators (actually, corporations who are the only entities that can collect money). Under Liberal-initiated changes to copyright law, there would be an underlying assumption that people use the Internet and digital media for illegal copying. Implications are: restrictions on types of research, development, and available technologies to consumers AND collection of royalties from: Internet access, blank media etc.

What has driven many of us to become involved in this issue is watching what has happened in the United States and the European Union when they ratified the WIPO Treaty. The USA ratified WIPO to create the DMCA law, which has visibly restricted academic and citizen freedoms. Parliament seems to want to ratify WIPO in Canada too [ http://tinyurl.com/2r5gy ]

The unintended consequences of the DMCA in the USA are well-documented:
[ http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/20031003_unintended_cons.php ]

Specifically, I would like to ask you these questions which come from
www.digital-copyright.ca

1. Do you believe that the Copyright Act should be seen as a careful
balance between the rights of creators and the rights of the public?

2. Do you believe that the rights of users of copyright material should be preserved in Canadian copyright law? (eg: fair dealing, public domain, home audio recording)

3. Do you believe the "50 years after author's death" copyright term should be extended, shortened, or left at 50 years? If changed, what term is appropriate to reward creators?

4. Do you believe that users and their representatives have a vital stake and should be consulted in changing copyright law?

5. Do you recognize the property rights of citizens to own and control
Information and Communications Technology (ICT - equipment such as VCRs, DVD/CD recorder/players, personal and business computers, etc) for lawful purposes, even if these ownership rights may be abused by some citizens to break the law?

6. Heritage Committee recently released an Interim report on Copyright
which recommended applying a levy to all content that was not explicitly marked as royalty-free. The Internet has always worked on the assumption that all work is royalty-free except that which is protected behind e-commerce features of a website(passwords and other security). Do you support the radical changes suggested by Heritage Committee?

7. Will you sign our Petition for Users' Rights, and if elected fight for our rights in parliament? [ http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition/ ]