Meeting with Charlie Angus.. and the Fundraiser

I didn't make it to Toronto on March 22 for Mr. Angus' fund-raiser, but I did get to meet with him on the 20'th in his parliamentary office. Reading Ted Schmidt's BLOG post "Charlie Angus for P.M." about the fund-raiser, it sounds like it was great.

And here he was back in Kensington MArket supported by the great musicians he started with 25 years ago. Andrew and Peter Cash, the Skydiggers, Jason Collett, Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies They all donated their time and money to make sure the poet stays in Parliament.

The meeting on Tuesday went very well. This was expected, because he truly is "one of us" when it comes to people who understand the value of the new media and the power it has for independent artists.

Mr. Angus isn't a technical person, so the focus on the conversation was to talk about DRM. We spoke about the "4 possible owners" (See: Protecting property rights in a digital world), and the two locks (the lock on the content and the lock on the device). The batch of signatures for the Petition for IT property rights had already returned from the Private Members business office (they came in moments before we met), and thus they are ready to be tabled in the house when Mr. Angus is able to schedule that. It will be exciting to have this more detailed petition tabled and see what type of response we will get from the government.

We spoke about the iTunes music store and the iPod as an example. I described this as a vertically integrated marketplace, where the middle-piece (the iTunes software on your PC) is the key. I described what a competitive scenario would involve having software on the PC that could interoperate with many music stores and many portable media players. Imagine being able to have your multimedia browser able to automatically connect with charts and user recommendation sites, automatically seek out to purchase music at the best price among music stores you are a customer of. The market failure that the iTunes/iPod bundle represents is not a new problem when compared to other markets, but is new in the ability to tie (through DRM) these otherwise independent competitive markets.

While Mr. Angus is very aware of user generated, amateur and user generated content, how things like Open Source works was new. I showed him my copy of Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom which I believe he will purchase and read. I also hope that he will try to convince other members of Heritage committee to open a study on peer production and user generated content before a new copyright bill is tabled, as understanding these phenomena would lead to an entirely different focus on copyright revision.

In the next election I will be donating to his campaign again as I believe it is critical for artists and the new knowledge economy in general that Mr. Angus remain in parliament. I hope that other people in the creative community, including the software community, will do the same.