Canadian Politician Suggests Content Users Are Just Zealots

from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept

We haven't been discussing the controversy in Canada over Parliament Member Sam Bulte's willingness to allow big content industry sponsor a huge fundraiser for her just days before the election. Considering Bulte's earlier stances on copyright (basically exactly what big content companies want) it didn't seem that surprising. However, perhaps that's just the result of American cynicism, since things like that seem pretty much par for the course around here. However, what's been impressive is Bulte's increasingly silly attempt to defend her position that, despite taking a ton of money from the industry, they have no influence with her. With that said, the absolute last thing she should do is highlight how much she doesn't care about individual users' (most of the voters) rights -- but that's exactly what she's doing.

First, in an interview on the radio she claimed that internet users had ample opportunity to share their views on copyright issues -- but law professor Michael Geist (who should be credited for making this a story in the first place) notes that when a group representing users asked to speak at hearings on copyright issues (hearings where representatives from many major content organizations were present) they were abruptly told they were not welcome. However, the latest news shows just how little she cares about the user side of the question. Boing Boing points to a video where Bulte is asked to sign a a Copyright Pledge that says those crafting copyright policy won't take money from interested stakeholders. Her response starts out by insisting she's just protecting the artists (a favorite excuse given by the industry, but often disputed by actual artists). However, then she lets her anger get the better of her, dismissing Michael Geist, the EFF and "pro-user zealots" who are trying to "intimidate" her and "silence" her voice. First of all, no one is trying to silence her at all -- they're just saying she should be fairer to other stakeholders. However, more importantly: pro-user zealots? The people who are actually supporting the content industry by being the consumers of it clearly deserve a seat at the table concerning policies that impact them -- and are being written off as zealots by a politician taking money from the industry side. It doesn't exactly raise the confidence level on her ability to legislate fairly on the issue.


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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 12 Jan 2006 @ 11:10am

    Re: Hypocrisy

    Hi Fred,

    I think you may have misunderstood my position -- and I'll apologize as perhaps I haven't explained it clearly. Let me try to clarify.

    I find your continued rants abouts the supposed rights of people who had nothing to do with creating or producing copyrighted material quite interesting.

    Thanks, though, I'm guessing you're being sarcastic.

    You sell content you produce. Why don't you give it away as you continue to demand that musicians do? Isn't information free? Where are our fair use rights to the material that you produce?

    A few different issues here, so let's take them one at a time.

    (1) I have never, ever demanded that anyone give away their content for free -- and I never will. Where have I ever said that? My point is much more straightforward. Much of that content is being spread about for free anyway. That's the marketplace they face, and so the best business decision is to figure out a way to embrace that content. If someone doesn't want to give away their content, that's fine, but it may not be a wise business move.

    (2) As for the content we produce for a fee, we don't lock it down in any way. We're not charging for the content and our customers are free to do with it what they will. We're charging for the creation of that content only. As it's extremely specific and extremely customized it tends to have very little value outside of those companies (except maybe to their competitors) so there's little reason for them to release it publicly, but they're free to do so. So, sure, they have fair use rights on that content to do what they will with it. We wouldn't deny that.

    (3) As I said, I've never demanded anyone release content they don't want to release. The point on fair use is that content that has been released to the public has certain fair use right established by law -- and trying to take those rights away is an issue everyone should be concerned with.

    In the end copyright is a very simple principle. People who create intellectual property have the right to control access to that material. Musicians, authors, and programmers all have the right to give the material they produce away, and no on is disputing that right.

    Yup. No one is disputing it at all.

    They also have the right to set a price on that property if they so choose. Not only do your columns seem to oppose that right, in this one you decry the failure of legislators to sign a pledge that is an attempt to silence the voices of people who have a different opinion by removing their access to legislators.

    Again, you really misunderstand my point. They absolutely have the right to set whatever price they want. Where have I ever opposed that right? My point is that I'm trying to point out that the best price in many cases may be free. They can (and will) ignore that, but nowhere am I trying to stop them from making that mistake. If I have, please point it out.

    Secondly, nowhere do I advocate removing access to legislators. I'm really concerned as to how you might read the post and assume that. All the pledge says is that those legislators won't take money from those in the industry. That's quite different -- unless you believe that the ONLY way to get access is to contribute to a campaign. If that's the case, then your position is downright scary.

    No, all I'm saying is that the candidates should listen to all sides fairly -- and that means not accepting money from them.


    Who is really pathetic here?


    I'll leave that to the readers to decide.

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