One Small Victory for Fair Use

An open letter to the Minister of Industry and my MP

Dear Mr. Prentice,

Thank you for withdrawing the so-called "Canadian DMCA". I was and
have been deeply troubled by the readiness of the government to take
the part of the purveyors of creative content against the interest of
its consumers and often of its creators as well. I urge you to take a
different, more balanced view of the issues that are driving this

The purveyors of creative content have received a surcharge from the
sale of blank media on the presumption of guilt on the part of
Canadians in contravening copyright law. As galling as the presumption
of guilt is, it is a small price to pay by the consumer. It should be
sufficient for all time to preserve fair use rights. It should allow
consumers of content to time-shift, media-shift, even share moderately
and for non-commercial purposes with friends without fear of
surveillance, suit, damages or imprisonment.

The role of the Canadian government in this ought to be clear: to
balance the rights of ordinary citizens, creators of content and the
commercial entities that market and distribute that content. It is an
open secret that the commercial entities regularly abuse the creators
and they are doing whatever they can in any jurisdiction that will
listen to them to extend that abuse to the consumers of that content
as well. To have to pay some money every time a song is played --
especially to groups who manifestly do not have the best interests of
the artists at heart -- is untenable, unconscionable and an undue
intrusion into the lives of ordinary Canadians.

If the end result of "failing" to pass legislation like this in Canada
means that less and less large-company media comes to Canada that may
not be all bad -- but we all know that that end-game will result in
such widespread piracy that it will not be to anyone's benefit.

Do us all a favour and tell these extortionists (the MPAA, the RIAA
and others) to take their blank-media surcharge and be quiet. Once and
for all. The consequences of not doing so include all kinds of ills,
not least of which is the further disaffection of thousands of younger
voters who will get the message loud and clear if legislation like
this ever passes, that whomever the government of Canada is for, it's
certainly not for them. And that would be a serious breach of what you
were sent to Ottawa for: ultimately as the guardians of the
sovereignty of Canada, a trust too sacred for the kind of quick
sell-out a Canadian DMCA would represent.


Arthur N. Klassen
(address & phone-number witheld)

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