Friday, December 07, 2007

Hamilton chamber gets it right

Kudos to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce for doing what the Greater K-W Chamber should have done but didn't. Michael Geist reports that the Hamilton Chamber has dissociated itself from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce's call for far-reaching and onerous new intellectual property legislation -- a call that was largely based on dubious claims and fabricated data.

Unfortunately, it's looking like the federal government is about to introduce U.S.-DMCA-style legislation to Canada. Like the PR pros they are, lobbyists for these additional laws like to refer to "piracy" and "counterfeiting" -- who would defend activities with those labels? (Johnny Depp fans, maybe.) For people who only read headlines and lead paragraphs, intellectual property protection sounds like something to support. It's only when you go deeper that you see the oppressive measures some lobbyists are championing. Michael Geist's blog is a great resource if you want to dig deeper, and the Facebook group he created -- Fair Copyright for Canada -- has links to other blogs and websites with informative content.

On a related subject ... Matthew Ingram writes that the Songwriters Association of Canada is asking the government to pass legislation that would tax everyone in Canada $60 a year per Internet account, with this money somehow to be split between music "creators and rights holders." In return, there would be no threat of legal action against people sharing music for personal use in Canada as P2P file sharing would be explicitly permitted.

On the one hand, I suppose I can commend the SAC's efforts to create an environment where P2P filesharing is an accepted practice while, at the same time, artists are compensated for their work. But they quickly lose my support -- a mandatory, government-collected $60 a year charge to every Internet account is not the way to go about achieving those goals.

And it was disappointing to see bogus statistics yet again being quoted to support this position. The SAC even provides footnotes, but in this case it just makes it easier to see how weak its "facts" are. One line that grabbed my attention said that "Virtually every song ever recorded is available through P2P file sharing (more than 79 million recordings)." A careful reading of the footnotes revealed that both claims in that sentence are misrepresentations of the cited source material (which, in one case, seems only to be one person's off-the-cuff commentary). And those aren't even the worst examples. Just more made-up statistics and phoney facts that will no doubt be repeated many times.

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