When Piracy isn't: ACTA and new Copyright Legislation

I have been wondering where Bob Rae, recently elected MP for Toronto Center, would come down on copyright, mis-labeled anti-counterfeiting, and new economy issues. Thanks to Michael Geist I have been pointed to an article by Bob Rae.

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Removed page still on Archive.org

The page was removed from Bob Rae's website. It is available on archive.org.

The following is what Bob wrote, according to the Jul 23, 2008 (the latest) version.

When Piracy isn't: ACTA and new Copyright Legislation
Submitted by Bob Rae on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 10:36.

We're in the middle of a fascinating clash of interests, values, and generations. Corporate and private interests are desperate to assert their power in the digital age. And so the old chestnuts in the corporate cupboard are thrown into the mix - intellectual property, rights of the creator, patent protection - and applied willy nilly to the world of downloading, free access to the internet and the universe of instant sharing of information, talent, and ideas that is now the air we breathe.

Two separate Harper initiatives are trying to circle the wagons around the old world. The first is a promised, and fortunately much delayed, revision of the Copyright Act. The second is an American pushed treaty titled ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) that will go even further in making certain kinds of internet access and use illegal, and make it possible for customs officials to seize iPods that contain "illegally" downloaded material. It augurs a ridiculously intrusive national and international apparatus to police practices that are as common as eating and breathing.

What's the answer? Producers and creators are entitled to compensation for the use of their product. And users of the internet need to know that it will continue to be free at the point of use.

Can these colliding worlds be reconciled? Yes, they can, but only if political leaders understand that we're living in a different time and a different world. And there's no sign that they really do - hence the clash of generations, values, and interests. Someone has to speak for the public and the public interest, and that should be the government. Let's open up the debate and get this out into the public domain.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.