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. identicon
    Fred H Allison, 12 Jan 2006 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Hypocrisy

    Thank you for your reasoned response to an somewhat unreasonable comment. After re-reading your article and a bit of reflection I find that my irritation stems more from the content of the aricles that you linked than from what you actually wrote. Though there was sarcasm in my opening comment, I do check in on this site on a daily basis, so I must find it interesting.

    I'll try to make a better effort of replying to some of your comments in a more reasonable manner.

    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.

    The fact that copyrighted material is being spread freely is not a justification for the practice. Comments like the one on BoingBoing that the copyright law has made 70 million Americans criminals really get under my skin. The copyright law doesn't make people criminals, their actions do. Copying music, movies, books, or software that you do not own without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal.

    It is true that copyright holders are having a great deal of difficulty finding the proper marketing model that adequately deals with todays environment. I'll also admit that many of the efforts that they have put forth have been ineffective and often ill considered. The issues that Sony has had in the past few weeks are a perfect example of this. I have to say, though, that the demonization that I see of the companies and individuals involved bothers me greatly. Being stupid doesn't mean you're evil. I have to believe that for the most part the people in the industries involved are doing their best to make their way through a continually changing technological environment.

    As I said, I've never demanded anyone release content they don't want to release.

    Too many people take advantage of the rights granted under the fair use doctrine to facilitate copyright violations. The copyright holders are trying to deal with this by placing limitations on the licenses that they grant to users. They should have the right to take reasonable steps to protect their material and we the public have the right to object to those limitations by not purchasing their product.

    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 I don't think that, and in fact think quite the opposite. Whatever my opinion of some legislators, in general I believe (or at least hope) that the majority of the folks that represent us are doing the best at another very tough job. I think it's wrong to assert the taking campaign contributions from anyone is prima facie evidence that they cannot do their jobs without being influenced by them. I'd feel a lot better about the copyright pledge if they wanted politicians to not accept contributions from anyone that has opinion on this issue, but who would be able to contribute then? If you don't think your representatives can reach unbiased decisions, then vote them out.

    For those that question my motives, I don't work for anyone in the music industry, and I don't get paid by anyone that does, though my work is peripherally (the company I work for sells tickets, and some of those tickets are for concerts) involved in one aspect of it. My concerns in this area stem from that fact that I am a music lover and over the years I have bought hundreds of albums, tapes, and cds. I feel that if this issue is not resolved soon, the musicians that create the works that I appreciate so much will no longer be motivated to do so. I have also been a programmer for almost 30 years. I decided long ago that I appreciate being paid for my work, and it would be hypocritical for me to take the work of musicians, authors, and actors as well as the people who pay to produce and distrubute that work, without compensation.

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