Letter sent to MPs: high cost and minimal benefit to current Government Copyright proposals

The following cover letter was used in packages sent to a few key MPs.

  • David McGuinty, my MP
  • Hon. Mauril Bélanger, who was previously my MP when I lived in Sandy Hill
  • Hon. Reg Alcock, who I have had many conversations about FLOSS
  • Hon. David Emerson, Minister of Industry, as I believe it would be better for creativity and innovation if Industry Canada took over copyright policy from Heritage

Included in the package were:

Dear Hon. Mauril Bélanger,

Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister responsible for Official Languages, Minister responsible for Democratic Reform and Associate Minister of National Defence

MP for Ottawa-Vanier

I am sending you a copy of an article published in First Monday. First Monday is one of the first peer-reviewed journals on the Internet, solely devoted to the Internet. This article is by Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. It discusses the myth that unauthorized peer-to-peer distribution of music has led to billions in lost sales in Canada.

This myth is being used to justify radical changes to the Copyright act. Any legislation should have adequate cost-benefits analysis. My analysis suggests that proposed changes come at a very high cost and offer minimal benefits if any. I have sent articles in the past that discussed the high costs of proposed legislation to new-media creativity and innovation. This article suggests that even if unauthorized peer-to-peer was entirely eradicated that this would have minimal or no beneficial effect on the bottom-line of the recording industry.

It appears Canadian Heritage Minister Liza Frulla has not yet spent the time to read the legal or economic analysis, and is currently acting on misinformation. When organizations like the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) claim that they are being harmed by unauthorized peer-to-peer, she accepted this without question. When CRIA claims that the copyright act makes it hard to sue copyright infringers she believes them, even though the problem with the recent court case was a lack of evidence of infringement offered by CRIA.

"We'll also be addressing the peer-to-peer issue," Frulla said. ``It will give the tools to companies and authors to sue."

"Everything starts with the children," she said. "They're the ones who say `recycle' and `don't smoke.' The Internet is their world." (Toronto Star, Apr. 4, 2005, "Heritage minister pledges anti-downloading law")

Believing the Chicken Little "sky is falling" rhetoric of CRIA, the Minister seems intent on making it easy for CRIA to sue children without adequate evidence of wrongdoing. Legislation is planned to be introduced as early as June. This is not the type of message that the Liberal party wants to be offering if we head into an election, especially as other parties in Canada are modernizing their thinking about copyright and new media.

Thank you.

Russell McOrmond

305 Southcrest Private,

Ottawa, ON

K1V 2B7

Phone: (613) 733-5836