Russell McOrmond

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Russell McOrmond



Documents received have been posted in the official language in which they were submitted. All are posted as received by the departments, however all address information has been removed.

Submission from Russell McOrmond received on September 13, 2001 via e-mail

Subject: My submission.

Submission to 2001 copyright reform consultation

This is my submission to the 2001 Canadian copyright reform process. You can read considerable background materials in an online forum called Canada DMCA Opponents which was created specifically to discuss this process from a specific perspective.

Table of Contents:

  • Summary
  • Introduction of Author
  • A new economy, or a new product from the old economy?
  • The Three Rights
  • Business models
  • Potential conflicts with other Public Policy
  • Discussion of "A framework for copyright reform"
  • Conclusion: list major points


Copyright (C) 2001, Russell McOrmond <>
Permission is granted to republish or include this document in your own materials, in whole or in part, as long as some form of acknowledgement is made. If the new work is a derivative work, please ensure that it is marked as such so that it will not be confused with my own writing.

Note: I considered using the Free Documentation License, but in this case I wanted people to use any ideas presented here in their own submissions. The importance is to ensure that specific ideas are presented as part of this round of copyright reform, and not specifically that these materials retain all their freedoms.


In order for a correct balance on copyright to be achieved we need to investigate a number of different relationships between copyright and other related Canadian laws, the differing and often incompatible needs of different copyright holders, as well as the needs of different constituencies such as authors, publishers and readers.
We need to first determine what we as Canadians are trying to accomplish with our Copyright Act. As part of this we need to decide whether we wish to use Copyright to encourage and/or enforce existing old-economy business models, or to allow and/or encourage potentially new models if a new economy is to emerge. Do we accept the idea that information should be treated as some new form of property, or do we reject that concept and try to provide a more balanced approach?
I will use myself as an example of a self employed consultant who makes use of copyright works, especially software governed under licenses that fall under the broad category of Free Software which is a well defined subset of what is commonly referred to as Open Source Software. The business models used in the Free Software industry are often quite different than those of the proprietary software industry, with the requirements of copyright law sometimes not only being different but incompatible. Aspects of copyright law that are often referenced as guiding innovation in the proprietary software industry can often become a strong barrier to innovation in the Free Software industry.
Copyright law must also find its place in relationship to other domestic Canadian laws and international agreements. As examples, Copyright law must never be allowed to be used as a justification for non-compliance with Canada's Competition Act, Access to Information Act, Privacy Act, or open procurement and standards requirements of NAFTA and AIT. When there is conflict, the balance must weigh in favor of these other laws, with the granting of temporary exclusive economic privileges afforded to copyright holders only being granted when not in conflict with other laws.

Introduction of Author

I am a self-employed, small-businessman who offers consulting and software services, focused on electronic communications, to both public and private sector clients. My clients are primarily in the non-profit, NGO and voluntary sectors. While employed by other companies previously, I opened my own business in the summer of 1995. I did business under my own name of "Russell McOrmond" until January of 2000 when I registered for the Ontario business name of "FLORA Community Consulting". In December of 2000 I registered the Canadian Internet domain name.

I am also very active in the voluntary sector, most often bringing my skills in electronic publishing to community groups. I was involved early with the National Capital Freenet (was previously AA302), and in 1995 created Community Web which is an important part of the Community Networking movement within Canada. In order to encourage dialog on the current Copyright reform process from a sector of society that has not been well represented so far, I created and host the Canada DMCA Opponents forum.

When I was younger and first began to investigate computers and software, I did not put a copyright on any software that I wrote. I was assuming and desiring that this would place my software contributions into the public domain.

As I became more aware of the implications of Copyright and Patent law, I began to see how others were using these laws as a threat to my independence. I have never considered the economic priviledges associated with copyright, and the related ability of copyright to restrict others access to my work, to be an incentive to create more works.

My contributions, those written to be read by humans or interpreted by computers, were authored in the hopes that they would solve a problem or present a specific idea that was intended to be shared, explored, and improved upon by others who wished to share. My my mind it was not theft to share ideas as long as some credit was given to me, but did consider it theft to to take anothers shared ideas -- improve upon them -- and not share the results (a derivative work) with others. It is a foreign concept to me that an individual "genius" derives new ideas that are not simply derivatives of existing ideas.

From my initial investigations in the early 1990's (while in University and preparing to enter the workforce) I began to feel that CopyLeft, not traditional uses of copyright, would be the best method to protect my works. What I saw in the industry was a legal minefield set up by copyright (unknown potential restriction on the required reverse engineering to create compatible products), patents (one doesn't need to even be aware of a patent in order to infringe the abundant non-novel software patents) and trademarks which were seen to create enormous barrier to entry into the marketplace for my small business.

The only personal protection seemed to come from either working for a large corporation which took away my freedoms as an entrepreneur, or working in the growing Free Software industry. Since I wanted to both help protect my own freedoms as well as those of others, I chose to join the Free Software industry which has legal and research support to protect programmers and users of Free Software from larger industry players who were and continue to use court challenges to squash competition.

A new economy, or a new product for the old economy?

This copyright review process is intended to "ensure that the Copyright Act remains among the most modern and progressive in the world, as promised in the January 2001 Speech from the Throne." (Copyright reform introduction web-page).

Further, the introduction to A Framework for Copyright Reform indicates:

The federal government is committed to ensuring that Canada's copyright regime remains among the most modern and progressive in the world. The objectives to be met through the reform process are:
    • to create opportunities for Canadians in the new economy;
    • to stimulate the production of cultural content and diversity of choices for Canadians;
    • to encourage a strong Canadian presence on the Internet; and,
    • to enrich learning opportunities for Canadians.

In trying to achieve this goal, some basic assumptions need to be explored about what the purpose of the Copyright Act is, who it should be serving, and what would be considered modern in the face of an ongoing transition from a primarily Industrial economy to the unknowns of the future Information economy.

If one goes to the website of the the World Intellectual Property Organization and reads their About WIPO they indicate:

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is an international organization dedicated to promoting the use and protection of works of the human spirit. These works - intellectual property - are expanding the bounds of science and technology and enriching the world of the arts.

This organization, which Canada has signed treaties with and which Canada seems to be taking direction from, is

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