Open letter to Sarah McLachlan about the World on Fire and the future of music

I wrote an open letter to Sarah McLachlan, congradulating her on her "World on Fire" and asking if she would be willing to take the next step in the process by helping to minimize the harm to international development caused by the recording industry.

Letter posted to Digital Copyright Canada forum, newsgroup and

Dear Sarah McLachlan,

I would like to congratulate you on the amazing message that you convey with the video for "World on Fire". You were able to getting people to donate their time to bring the costs of the video down to $15, and then to donate the $150,000 that it is estimated it would normally have cost to sustainable-development charities in Africa.

I am wondering if you have considered taking this message the next step. The Recording Industry is part of a very powerful lobby group internationally that has been asking for radical changes to laws such as copyright. They are doing so for obvious reasons: modern technology such as the hand-held camera and other technologies you used in your video are becoming cheap enough that individual citizens are able to purchase and control these technologies. When you add in the low cost of mass-distributing this creativity on the Internet, you have set up an environment that is in direct competition with the way creativity was created, distributed and funded in the past.

In the mid 1990's these industries and their allies in the United States government went to the World Intellectual Property Organization and was able to get two treaties signed in 1996 which would protect their old way of doing things. To try to turn this agenda around to one that wouldn't oppose other policies of the United Nations, Brazil and Argentina launched a WIPO Development Agenda to try to not only reverse the bad policies of 1996, but to also modernize WIPO to support these new methods which would help to support creativity and innovation throughout the entire of the the developing and developed world.

Canada is currently drafting legislation to implement the 1996 WIPO treaties. As a Canadian musician who appears to be thinking about these issues I hope you will consider learning more and speaking out against the anti-development agenda being imposed by the old recording industry. We have a group of musicians that are trying to come together with one of the important messages to parliament being that the Canadian Recording Industry Association does not represent all Canadian musicians.

Our group also has a Petition for Users' Rights which we have collected over a thousand signatures for that we are presenting to the Canadian parliament.

Thank you.

Russell McOrmond

Independent software creator and music fan.

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Full contact information at


The official web site of Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan.

World on Fire video (Includes links to charities)

WIPO Development Agenda