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Friday snippets: Conservative “cut and run”, copyright stuff and Conservative war room hijinks.

– Does everyone remember the Conservatives more or less accusing Dion and the Liberals of aiding and abetting the Taliban for being insistent on a firm pullout date for Afghanistan? (A little link for you if you don’t). Now that Harper has come around to agree with Dion and the Liberals position on Afghanistan, I’m waiting to see if all those Conservative bloggers who took up the cries of their Conservative politicians and said the Liberals were “cutting and running” will now issue the same condemnation of Harper. Send them in to me if you find any criticisms of their beloved strong leader. It appears even some Conservative strategists are wondering what is going on with Harper.

– Ezra Levant is part of the Conservative War Room? No wonder they’ve been committing gaffes.

– On a related note, here’s a pretty telling line from a Conservative insider about the Conservative War Room and the headaches it’s caused the Harper campaign so far:

“We’ve said for years that the hyper-partisan Republican-trained true believers around Harper were going to cause him trouble,” reflected a veteran Conservative strategist. “The stuff they just wanted to kick out to media knew no limits.”

– On yet another related note, we find out through Kady O’Malley that the “Notaleader” site was using clips from TVO without their permission.. and these folks want to pass Copyright Reform legislation?

– Speaking of copyright legislation, Professor Michael Geist says in an update at the Fair Copyright For Canada Facebook Group that this election offers the chance for all those Canadians who oppose the provisions outlined in Bill C-61 to make their voice heard:

Over the past two months, the reaction to C-61 has overwhelmed many politicians. Some have acknowledged that it was the top issue among constituent correspondence, others have held town hall meetings in response to local concerns, and yet others have sought to make it an election issue…Raising the profile of copyright has required thousands of Canadians to pro-actively contact their elected representatives. Starting today, those same representatives (and would-be representatives) will be seeking you out. They will be knocking on doors, making phone calls, attending all-candidates meetings, and generally doing their best to convince voters that they will best represent their interests. This presents an exceptional opportunity to ask the question – where do you stand on important digital issues such as C-61 and Canadian copyright reform? Does your local Conservative candidate support the reintroduction of Bill C-61 or would they work toward amendments before it returns? Is your local Liberal candidate willing to commit to public consultations before the introduction of any new copyright bill? Is your NDP or Green candidate firmly against the approach in C-61? These are the questions that need to be asked again and again and again this fall.

If there was to be a “sleeper issue” in this campaign, it could very well be the copyright legislation known as Bill C-61. I believe A fair number of people will turn against the Conservatives if the word can be spread that people are potentially liable for lawsuits up to $20 000 for merely copying songs from their legally purchased DVD (because the DVD has DRM) to their Ipod under this legislation, if it were to get passed. You see that potential for voter backlash when the Facebook group has over 91 000 members. So, I hope this issue is brought up more by the opposition parties, because there’s a lot of potential votes and anger against this legislation that could be tapped. A lot of young voters will get rather ticked off over this issue if they are made aware of it.

UPDATE: I almost forgot this: An extremely good response by Dion to Harper’s ridiculous accusations that national unity would be put in peril if the Green Shift was implemented:

While [Stephen Harper] was busy talking about building firewalls in the West, I was fighting to keep my country together…. I do not need any lessons from Stephen Harper on fighting for the national unity of my country.

Audio Podcast: Panel Discussion on Copyright and Bill C-61

Devin Johnston of the blog devinjohnston.ca had a  podcast on Saturday afternoon to discuss the concerns some of us have with Bill C-61, the proposed bill to update copyright legislation in Canada.  The  group included myself, Mike Park of Rational Reasons, John Klein, who runs Abandoned Stuff by Saskboy, and a special guest, Dr. Sam Trosow, Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontario, jointly appointed to the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Information and Media Studies,

We talked about our concerns of the impact of the Conservative government’s proposed Copyright legislation on creators and consumers of digital media. Devin’s blog has the podcast.

I’ll mention that we as guests sounds fine on the podcast,  but you may have to turn it up to listen to Devin’s questions, as he was having some problems on his end getting the audio to record his voice level. Hopefully with some better recording software for use with Skype, that problem should be rectified for his next podcast, which is probably next Saturday, and which I believe Devin will be attempting to hold once a week every Saturday afternoon.

If you’re interested in participating in a podcast, be it next weekend or whenever, give Devin an email at his address. He’s trying to fill the void left by Greg Staple’s departure from political blogging and podcasting, and it would be good for bloggers to show their support in his endeavour.

Conservatives proposed copyright law making news even in rural newspapers

I noticed this article over at the Law is Cool blog today about how the Conservatives proposed new copyright law, known as Bill C-61, is rallying Canadians in unprecedented numbers (now over 87 000 members at the Fair Copyright For Canada Facebook group) to oppose this legislation.

I believe this is reinforced by the fact that the local paper around here, The Tillsonburg News, ran a front-page story today talking about the proposed legislation and informing the area about a public meeting that would be held to tallk about it:

..this week, thanks to Tillsonburg’s Linux Users Group (tillug), anyone interested can learn more about this important issue. Sam Trosow, an associate professor at London’s University of Western Ontario, is a recognized expert in intellectual property rights and has co-authored a citizen’s guide to Canadian copyright law. He will be in Tillsonburg on Wednesday, July 16th at the invitation of the tillug to discuss what the legislation proposed in Bill C-61 means to Canadian users and producers of copyrighted material.

I have said before that Bill C-61 and the proposals the Conservatives have put in this bill to update the copyright legislation could be the sleeper issue in the upcoming federal election. The opposition to this bill continues to grow, and when it’s provoking concern in smaller communities like Tillsonburg and warranting frontpage coverage and details about public meetings on this issue, it has the potential to blow up in the Conservatives face.  And it should – as this legislation is not the kind of reforms we need for copyright law.

Fair Copyright for Canada’s Facebook group continues to grow in numbers.

Now over 63 000 members as of this blogpost. 3000 more new members of the group in over 12 hours.

By the way, this is one of the things the Fair Copyright For Canada FB group is recommending its members do over the summer:

Take 30 minutes from your summer to meet directly with your MP. From late June through much of the summer, your MP will be back in your community attending local events and making themselves available to meet with constituents. Give them a call and ask for a meeting. Every MP in the country should return to Ottawa in the fall having heard from their constituents on […]

Your Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook membership update.

Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star was blogging a few days ago that she’d be interested to see how the grassroots reacted to the Conservatives new Copyright reform legislation, and she did a mention of how the Fair Copyright For Canada Facebook group had amassed large numbers of members, merely on rumours of the proposed legislation.

I think it’s safe to say it’s going over like a lead balloon. The group is now up to close to 57 000 members as of this blogposting.  Another 6000 new members since my blogpost about it yesterday,  for a grand total of 9000 new members joining over the weekend.. and 16 000 new members since Bill C-61 was unveiled by Jim Prentice and the Conservatives.

Unbelievable. I know some political parties that would be in heaven to get new members at that rate.

The sleeper issue of the upcoming election campaign is taking root.  The Conservatives ignore this grassroots movement and its demand for Fair Copyright laws at their electoral peril.

[email protected]:54pm – Now up to 59 042 members as of this update. More then 2000 members in a single day. WOW!

LAST UPDATE, Monday, June 16/2008 @ 10:45 am: The group has now gone over 60 000 members.

People aren’t liking the looks of Bill C-61’s proposed copyright reforms apparently.

There’s a story at the CBC’s website about how the Fair Copyright For Canada Facebook group has had its membership surge since the introduction of Bill C-61, the Conservatives and Jim Prentice’s proposed Copyright Reform legislation. As of 6:20 pm last evening when the story was posted at the CBC’s website, membership had gone from 41 000 at the start of the week to 48 000 last evening.  It’s gone up even further this morning: as of this blogposting, the group stands currently at 51, 316 51 423 members – another 3000 members joining the group in little over 15 hrs since that story was published, and 10 000 new members to the group since Thursday AM, when Prentice first introduced the bill.

This is galvanizing a lot of people – people that may not normally get involved in politics. It’s good to see.

Is Bill C-61 the right copyright law for Canada?

I’d say the answer is no:

Under the Prentice bill, transferring music from a copy-protected CD to an iPod could violate the law. So, too, could efforts to play a region-coded DVD from a non-Canadian region or attempts by students to copy-and-paste content from some electronic books…The need to read the fine print does not end there – a new statutory damage award of $500 for personal-use infringement applies to music downloading that many believe is legal, while it does not cover uploading files onto peer-to-peer networks or even posting videos to YouTube…their self-described “made in Canada” solution actually looks an awful lot like the much-criticized U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Once Canadians read the fine print on this bill, many may demand that the government go back to the drawing board.

That comes from an article Dr. Michael Geist wrote in the Toronto Star today. Anyone who has followed this issue know that Dr Geist has been a leading critic of the Conservatives proposed copyright reforms. At his own blog, he goes even further, calling this bill a betrayal:

..Because the Conservative Party of Canada promised to Stand Up for Canada, yet the Canadian DMCA is quite clearly U.S.-inspired legislation, the result of intense pressure from U.S. officials and lobby groups. Because the interests of individual Canadians – including those calling for more flexible fair dealing – is completely ignored. Because the Canadian DMCA was introduced without consulting consumer groups, education groups, civil society groups, or the Canadian public. Because Jim Prentice knows better. He saw first-hand the passion of Canadians calling for balanced copyright and has received thousands of calls and letters on the issue. Yet rather than genuinely working to craft a balanced solution, he opted to release a fatally flawed bill.

I will say that I don’t expect this legislation in its current format go anywhere fast with the Cons. being in a minority government and with the opposition parties all apparently opposed to this bill. If Prentice and the Cons. refuse to listen to the demands of thousands of grassroots Canadians to make this bill much more balanced toward the rights of consumers and not just an American DMCA re-run that gives in to the American copyright lobby, then the opposition parties should heavily amend this bill to make it reflect more balance and pass it in the House over the protests of the bleating Cons.

If the Cons withdraw the bill so as to not allow that to happen, then an opposition party who chooses to campaign on Fair Copyright Laws has an instant issue and platform plank in the upcoming election campaign.  I’ve checked out the Fair Copyright For Canada Facebook group since Bill C-61 was introduced. There were about 40000 members of that group, give or take a thousand, prior to Jim Prentice’s release of the proposed Bill C-61. Since his announcement, the group had gained 5000 members and is up to 46 319 as of this blogpost.  For a Canadian based Facebook group,  the large # of members and the amount of new members coming in a matter of a couple of days is pretty amazing. This could be the sleeper issue of the next general election, and it’s going to bite Jim Prentice and the Cons. hard if they leave this fatally flawed legislation in its current format.

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