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 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Hypocrisy

    Fred,

    Thanks for the response. You raise some good points, so let me try to clarify my own view a little more. I think you're still ascribing to me (and maybe others) a little more than what we're actually suggesting.

    The fact that copyrighted material is being spread freely is not a justification for the practice

    I am not justifying the practice. It's illegal. I've said repeatedly it's illegal, and I have no sympathy for anyone who does it. I, personally, do not download unauthorized files becaues I respect the law on that.

    HOWEVER, that doesn't change the fact that people are doing it -- and that it has a huge impact on the market. So, what I'm saying is that companies are better off just admitting that the law, in this case, is not the issue, and the market is clearly clamoring for something. When they recognize they can build real business opportunities by embracing it, everyone wins.

    I have to say, though, that the demonization that I see of the companies and individuals involved bothers me greatly.

    I don't think it's demonization. I think it's just frustration that these companies don't want to admit it when they make mistakes. The treatment that these people give these companies isn't nearly as bad as the treatment we're all getting in response.

    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.

    Yes, I think they're "doing their best" but they're being lazy about it. They want to keep the status quo and any suggestion of real change is thrown out immediately. They refuse to listen when people suggest reasonable arguments, and instead "demonize" them as being zealots or promoting theft.

    Too many people take advantage of the rights granted under the fair use doctrine to facilitate copyright violations.

    Fine, then focus on the problem: ABUSE of fair use. Not fair use itself.

    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.

    Yup, you'll get no denial from me. I completely agree that they have the right to try to protect their material -- but it goes further than that. When people find out that those protections are troublesome and harmful we have every right to publicize them. The companies try to hide these protections as if they're nothing, but they have a very real effect that people should know about.

    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.

    So why did you suggest that I was somehow trying to silence Bulte? I never suggested silencing her in any way, and I haven't seen anyoen else do it either.

    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.

    It's not prima facie, but it does open up doors questioning things -- especially given Bulte's track record on the matter. The suggestion of dangerous dealings is something that should be made public.

    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.

    Have you seen the hundreds of stories from artists who have turned down copy protection and embraced file sharing and talked about how it grew their business and increased their motivation to keep going? There has been ZERO evidence that motivation is lost to create art due to file sharing.


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