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To be honest, as your average guy I don't know a whole lot about making policy and other related things. The reason I am emailing my 'thoughts' is because I feel compelled to act — though I lack cohesion in my voice, I want to make it very very clear that I am watching closely those who ARE speaking, especially those who are speaking with clear, rational voices, and who want the best for the citizens of this country. These are the types of people I would place my faith (and my vote) in.
When you go about setting up the new policies for copyright, here are a few general things that I think make sense:
Don't try and solve the problem by tackling tangent issues. Go for the heart of it all. For example, why are we being taxed on blank media, when not all blank media is used for copying copyrighted works? Instead of finding little extra ways to make money, look for ways to reinforce and make the copyright structure fair. This should be first and foremost about protecting people's creative work, not making money.
Please don't listen too closely to lobbyists. Lobbyists are able to speak much louder then your average citizens, but that does not mean they have our best and fairest interests in mind. They are paid to represent corporations, and corporations have making money as their first goal, no matter what they might say otherwise. This forum to hear our thoughts is fantastic, and I applaud your having decided to do so; please do not stop there. Specifically, it genuinely frightens me to hear that, just south of the border, there are massive record and movie agencies suing the heck out of people who can barely defend themselves. These citizens may be responsible for having stolen music or movies, but for example, the "formulas" they have come up with that claim these grandmothers and children have cost the labels millions of dollars in damage *each* is just outlandish. I think Canada can do a lot better then that in terms of laying out our laws, and litigation between labels and civilians should be about finding a fair and just punitive sum for such theft, not treated as a means of income for these big companies. A civilian of this country should not have to go broke giving up every penny they have for anything but the harshest of crimes.
Be proactive about tackling the problem before it begins, in an educational sense. Get out there and remind young people that stealing is wrong, and clearly lay out that there will be punishment — hopefully mild at first, but escalating perhaps if necessary for repeat offenders and/or to fit the crime. There is a certain state of mind amongst most people that piracy doesn't equal stealing. This is not the case, and people need to be reminded of that. However, my next point is also important…
Get the labels working on better solutions to their distribution. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. People steal media not just because it's free, but sometimes because it's a better alternative. For example, things like DRM are more of a pain in the behind to paying customer then they are truly useful at stopping piracy. If the labels build better distribution models, it will be more of an incentive to go the legitimate route. Make media affordable, easy to access, etc. When MP3s first came out, labels tried incredibly hard to hold off putting music onto computers via the internet, but that's what people wanted so they found a way. Now, the iTunes store and players like the iPod are an excellent example of such a successful model, but such things should be incredibly easy and prevalent to use in general. Bottom line… if you give an animal a large enough cage, it may not try so hard to escape.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, please listen very carefully to folks such as Professor Michael Geist. Everywhere I turn, I hear and see this man, who is not a paid employee of a label or anyone else, taking his free time to help defend Canadians, explain to us what's going on in terms we can understand, and encourage us to speak out. It is because of people like him that I am taking the time to write to you, in hopes that someone somewhere out there will actually care about what I have to say, and perhaps in a truly democratic fashion, the citizens of this country will affect the creation of laws we feel are fair and in our best interests! People like him are leading the charge in getting us involved, and while I'm sure there is some press involved for him as a result, I do think he knows a lot about these types of things and his opinions do not seem to be motivated by other puppeteers from behind the scenes. It makes me feel proud to know that folks like him are helping change things so that average Canadians are affecting policy, not just politicians and lobbyists for corporations.
Thanks for your time. I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with!