Can The Public Be Heard On Copyright Issues?
from the one-hopes... dept
For years, a growing number of folks have worked hard to try to amplify the public's voice on these issues. They've been trying to make it clear that greater copyright isn't an unequivocal "good thing" and that it has many real and significant downsides as well. The internet has been an amazing tool in making this happen, but it's still not enough. In the US, for example, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many politicians actually recognize the downsides to over protection from copyright... and still have enough fingers to wag at the rest of our elected officials. The situation in Canada appears to be just slightly better, however. Michael Geist deserves a lot of the credit for that. He was the one who rallied the public the last few years when Canadian politicians tried to rush through draconian copyright changes to the system, pushed directly by US copyright interests.
While some Canadian politicians appear to have recognized some of the issues, that doesn't mean most still aren't under the false belief that more copyright is good, and what the industry reps claim is "good" is actually good for the public. So, as the Canadian gov't has begun a consultation over new copyright laws, Geist is trying to make sure that the public's voice is actually heard this time. He's launched a website called Speak Out On Copyright that tries to track the online discussion (from all over the internet) on copyright issues and help the public become much more involved in the consultation process. He's also kicked it off with his own response to the consultation, which is well worth a read.
It's still an uphill battle. The recording industry has said that they thought the bill that died last year, which so many had protested as being way too draconian, was actually too tame and did not go far enough. They've asked for the moon -- including anti-circumvention clauses, three strikes and copyright term extension. And most politicians will still hear their voice the loudest, and think that it's representative. But maybe, just maybe, the actual public -- the real people impacted by these things -- can get their voice heard in a way that has a real impact and prevents new laws that don't serve the public, don't encourage more creativity and serve only to prop-up and protect one industry's old and obsolete business model.
Is it enough to make a difference? The fact that it actually exists is already a difference. It may not stop those powerful, connected and well-funded lobbyists from pushing through bad legislation, but hopefully the voice of the public will actually at least play a role in what happens.