Further (copyright) policy suggestions on how to Make Poverty History.

I signed up to the campaign at http://www.makepovertyhistory.ca . The interface sends messages to the prime Minister and your own MP, so I sent the following which seeks to make the connection between copyright and development issues.

I also sent this message to the DCC discuss forum and Rabble Babble.

FROM: Russell McOrmond

TO: The Right Honourable Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada

Carbon Copy: David McGuinty (Ottawa South)

SUBJECT: Further policy suggestions on how to Make Poverty History.


Dear Prime Minister Martin,

I am writing to encourage you to show Canadian leadership and do all you can to Make Poverty History during 2005. I also wanted to suggest additional policy directions. You will have already received many thousands of copies of the campaign demands, so I am only including them in an appendix.

One of the least fair areas of trade policy are so-called "Trade Related Intellectual Property" as promoted by the WTO/TRIPS agreement and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). While past treaties have sought a balance between competing interests (creators vs. intermediaries vs. users, past vs. future creators, developed vs. developing countries), recent agreements such as the 1996 WIPO treaties have been entirely one-sided. Bill C-60 is the bill in parliament that is intended to ratify these harmful treaties. Over 1800 Canadians already signing the Petition for Users' Rights opposing this policy direction before the bill was tabled. If Bill C-60 passes there will be additional pressure on majority-world countries to import similar laws into their own country.

In the early 1990's the logic was that if new tools and media such as personal computers and the Internet were to have any content then it would need to be hobbled to act more like the highly centralized broadcast and other publishing mechanisms of the past. While this would protect the currently successful recording, motion picture and "software manufacturing" industries from change, this greatly harms any emerging competitors.

Domestic competitors include the over 95% of Canadian musicians who are not signed according to the Canadian Independent Recording Artists Association (CIRAA.ca). Like signed independent musicians they are already in a competitive disadvantage against the major labels represented by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA.ca) which account for more than 95% of all records produced and sold in Canada. CRIA was a major promoter of the WIPO treaties in Canada, and had major influence on the text of Bill C-60.

The fastest growing part of the software sector is the part that I participate in which produce Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS), an alternative to "software manufacturing" produced and promoted by the members of the self-called Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft (CAAST). We do not charge per-copy royalties on software, instead using open collaborative models such as peer production, peer distribution (including authorized Peer-to-Peer file-sharing) and funding models which not only eradicates the incentive for private citizens to infringe software copyright, but also provides lower-cost royalty-free software worldwide.

Competitors to the old way of doing things include creators from emerging economies, the very economies which Make Poverty History is trying to help.

Talking about Microsoft, the most successful "software manufacturer", Marcelo D'Elia Branco, coordinator of Brazil's Free Software Project, stated that "every license for Office plus Windows in Brazil - a country in which 22 million people are starving - means we have to export 60 sacks of soybeans". Recent WIPO treaties have provisions to impose specific "software manufacturing" vendors on computer users through techniques called "technological measures" which tie the ability to legally access digitally encoded culture such as electronic books, music and movies to the use of specifically branded/licensed software and other technology.

The Minister of Culture for Brazil, Gilberto Gil, is a major promoter of emerging alternatives. As one of Brazil's most famous musicians he releases his music under Creative Commons licenses which allow others to more freely build upon his work. Brazil was also a co-sponsor with Argentina of the WIPO Development Agenda to try to transform WIPO from being tied to the old way things were done to supporting alternatives. This is in direct contrast with the policies being promoted by the already rich-and-famous northern recording artists and industry which would translate to more money being extracted from developing countries in the form of "intangibles" such as royalty fees.

Some of the same musicians who will be taking part in the Canadian Live 8 concert, including Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy and Tom Cochrane, were on parliament hill a few months ago demanding the immediate ratification of WIPO treaties that will greatly harm these emerging competitors including those from the poorest countries.

If Canada is to be serious about helping the worlds poor it should not only move forward on the proposals from the Make Poverty History campaign, but to also join the Friends of Development within WIPO. This agenda should become part of all the work of WIPO, including negotiations to abrogate the most harmful articles from the 1996 WIPO treaties. WIPO must not be locked into protecting only the previously successful creation, distribution and funding models for creativity, but to embrace emerging alternatives which will allow not only the majority of domestic creators to adequately compete with the currently rich-and-famous, but to also enable developing countries to participate as well.

An appropriate next step would be for parliament to fully reject Bill C-60, and start consultations on how Canada could best join and promote the WIPO Development Agenda so that Canada can become part of the solution in this area of policy, rather than continuing to be part of the problem. Copyright should also be moved away from Heritage which has been too tied to the way things were done in the past, ignoring many of the recommendations of their own report titled "A Charter for the Cultural Citizen Online" and their support for cultural diversity which demands support for diversity in methods of production, distribution and funding of creativity.


Russell McOrmond


The following was the sample letter suggested by Make Poverty History, http://www.makepovertyhistory.ca

FROM: Russell McOrmond joining millions worldwide

TO: The Right Honourable Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada

SUBJECT: Make Poverty History


Dear Prime Minister Martin:

We are writing to encourage you to show Canadian leadership and do all you can to Make Poverty History during 2005.

The G8 Finance Ministers agreed on immediate 100% cancellation of debts for 18 of the poorest countries. While it is an important initial step, we urge you to insist that this deal be expanded to include more than 40 other impoverished countries.

On June 13 the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs tabled its unanimous recommendations in the House of Commons, calling for a plan to establish a timetable to reach 0.7% of Canada's GNP for foreign aid by 2015 and legislation establishing poverty reduction as the priority for Canada's aid. We call on you to adopt these recommendations immediately.

We urge you to show your commitment and build on these important measures before and during the G8 Meeting on July 6th:

- Announce a binding timetable for Canada to reach the 0.7 aid target by 2015 and ensure that the aid is focused on the poorest people via legislation

- Cancel 100% of the debts owed by ALL of the poorest countries and work to ensure that countries are free to implement their own national development strategies by ending IMF and World Bank Structural Adjustment Programs

- Deliver Trade Justice


Make Poverty History