2012 UpdateWhile this was the first first petition we launched in 2004, it may now be the least effective. Please only sign this in addition to other petitions, not as a substitute.
Please print and sign the following!
Where do I send the signed copy ?
Russell McOrmond is coordinating bringing to MPs to be tabled in the house, so please send to address below. If you have any problems or questions, or want to coordinate handing over a large number of signatures in person, don't hesitate to send us email :
- Russell McOrmond (Ottawa)
- Petition for Users' Rights, 305 Southcrest Private, Ottawa, ON K1V 2B7
- Chris Brand (Lower Mainland, BC)
If you have 25 or more signatures, please instead ask your own MP to present the petition to Parliament, letting us know so we can keep our records updated. The more MPs that we ask to present petitions, the more will have to think twice before supporting a Bill that they know some of their constituents oppose.
Please don't send signatures to the MP without talking to them first. A large number of signatures have been lost in MPs offices where there hasn't been adequate communication ahead of time. Once you have the interest of the MP, sending packages to their parliamentary office is postage free.
We have a BLOG topic for the petition which provides additional links.
The Petition is a way of letting Parliament know that you want to be considered and that you don't want your rights to be abraded every time the music industry's profits slip a little.
Update: While previous bills have died when elections were called, this petition was authored to not be specific to any bill. It is a petition being used to indicate the size of our community, so having many thousands of people sign it is very important.
Please continue to collect and send petitions in, as they are having an effect on the debate around this area of policy. We will continue to send in signatures to this petition until such time as our Users' Rights are adequately protected in Canadian law.
This is not a one-time event. We have been sending in batches of signatures to multiple members of parliament over a period of time. The more batches we send in, with the more different members of parliament tabling petitions, the more parliamentarians become aware of our perspective on this issue. Please send us signatures as soon as you can, but please take the time to convince friends, family, and other people you interact with to sign as well.
Government "Response"On November 25, 2005, we received a copy of a Liberal government response (Dated June 6, 2005) to the 2'nd set of petition signatures tabled in parliament. We are not aware of why there was a breakdown in communication, and what happened to the response to the first batch.
On October 20, 2006, we received a copy of a Conservative government response (Dated June 5, 2006) to the first set of petition signatures tabled in the Conservative government.
Neither government indicated a respect for the fact that "all citizens are rights holders", and rejected the idea that users of works have rights that must be respected as much as the rights of copyright holders. Both governments used the identical language talking about "the rights of copyright owners, and the needs of intermediaries and users".
Neither government recognised the right of citizens to personally control their own communication devices.
Those who see the new government as radically different from the past government should notice the similarity in language of the two responses, including using the identical closing paragraph.
We have a PDF of the Conservative Government responses to both petitions (as of Aug 28, 2007).
Jem Berkes has a great webpage describing the reasons behind the petition.
April 23, 2004 (WIPO Intellectual Property Day) - Initial launch press release.
April 7, 2005 - First 187 signatures (of a thousand so far) tabled in parliament - press release. More information, including media references, can be found on the BLOG for Burnaby--New Westminster where Peter Julian was MP and Chris Brand lives.
June 22, 2005 - Press release relating to the tabling of Bill C-60.
- The Association des Étudiants et Étudiantes aux Études Supérieures du DIRO, University of Montréal gradate students in computer science, endorsed the petition at their general assembly on September 13, 2006.
- CLUE: Canada's Association for Open Source endorsed this petition as part of their Copyright-related Policy summary, first presented to officials at Heritage Canada on December 1, 2006.
- FACIL, pour l'appropriation collective de l'informatique libre, endorsed the petition on March 22, 2007. / FACIL, pour l'appropriation collective de l'informatique libre, a endossé la pétition le 22 mars 2007.
How many signatures have been received? Did you receive my signature?
We have a separate page that gives a count and some details of the signatures received for the petition for Users' Rights. This includes which signatures have been collected and which have been tabled in parliament.
How do I sign ?
The petition is going to be presented to Parliament, so this can't be as easy as we'd like it to be.
The first thing to do is to print out the petition in either English or French. Assuming you agree with it, sign it and send it to the collator nearest you. Please go ahead and ask others to sign, too.
Because this is going to presented to Parliament, there are a few rules that must be followed (from House of Commons Procedure and Practice: Current Guidelines for Petitions) :
- The text of the petition must not be altered either by erasing or crossing out words or by adding words.
- No other matter is to be attached or appended to or written on the petition, whether in the form of additional documents, maps, pictures, news articles, explanatory or supporting statements, or requests for support.
- Each petitioner must sign his or her own name directly on the petition and must not sign for anyone else. Names should be signed, not printed. Signatures cannot be attached to a sheet (taped or pasted on) or photocopied onto it. If a petitioner cannot sign because of illness or a disability, this must be noted on the petition and the note signed by a witness.
- The petitioner's address must be written directly on the petition and not pasted on or reproduced. The petitioner may give his or her full home address or simply the city and province.
Note that you also must be a resident of Canada.
When do you need the signatures ?
The Liberal Ministers of Heritage and Industry tabled Bill C-60 on June 20, 2005. This was just part of the conversation, and not the end. Other bills have been tabled and have fallen off the order paper since then. We will continue to collect signatures for this petition until what we are asking for is adequately acknowledged by the parliament and the government, and reflected in a bill.
How can I keep up-to-date on what the government is doing in this area ?
Why a Petition ?
As the petition itself says, copyright is supposed to be a careful balance between the rights of creators and the rights of the public. The government is granting a monopoly on speech in order to achieve two specific goals - to encourage the creation of works and to ensure that the creators of works are fairly rewarded for their efforts. This restriction on freedom of speech is carefully constrained both in scope and time to ensure that it achieves these goals without unduly restricting what Canadians can say or do.
Unfortunately, it's an area of the law that your average Canadian knows very little about. They're probably unaware that everything they write is automatically protected by copyright. They probably don't know how long copyright lasts. They probably don't know what the limits are on the rights granted to the holder of a copyright. That has meant that whenever the Government has asked for opinions on changes to the Copyright Act, most of the advice they have received has come from people and organisations that hold valuable copyrights. They understandably would prefer to have these copyrights last longer, have broader scope and fewer exceptions. Only the librarians and educators have traditionally put forward the view from the other side.
Why not an electronic petition ?
Parliament does not accept electronic petitions. While electronic petitions are far easier to sign, taking the extra time sign a paper petition that meets the requirements of parliament goes further to convincing parliament.
How the Petition Came About
There was a discussion on the forum about how certain special interest groups, in particularly the major record labels, manage to get a disproportionate amount of attention from the Government when discussing possible changes to the Copyright Act. This lead to the question of how to let Parliament know that this isn't just an obscure corner of the law but something that affects every single Canadian in a significant way. Somebody proposed a petition. A draft was circulated. Numerous suggested changes were incorporated. Then the question came up of how to officially launch the petition - how to make people aware of its existence. WIPO's Intellectual Property Day, which was rapidly approaching, seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. Very quickly, a draft Press Release was created, critiqued and agreed upon, and this web page was born.
The whole process was very much like the Open Source model of software development.