ARCHIVÉE — Bob Young (En anglais seulement)
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Suggestion de Bob Youngreçue le 12 septembre 2001 par courriel
Objet : Comments - Government of Canada Copyright Reform
Re: Proposed changes to Canadian Copyright laws are both unnecessary and dangerous to the future of the Canadian technology industry: http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/rp01100e.html
As a successful entrepreneur in the technology industry in both Canada and the US I speak from experience when I say your proposed changes to the Canadian Copyright laws are both unnecessary and dangerous to the future of the Canadian technology industry: http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/rp01100e.html
Hundreds of studies have proven that the vast majority of jobs in our free market economy are created by new small corporations that grow. Large corporations tend to consolidate and even eliminate jobs over time. This is not to say that large multinationals are bad, just that the future success of the Canadian economy will depend on the success of the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs not on what is good for American corporations such as Disney, AOL-Time Warner, or Adobe.
The legislation you are considering, based on intensive lobbying by the largest International publishing and technology corporations will damage the opportunities available to the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs. This legislation will give these corporations additional rights to control the technologies our increasingly digital society relies on. Already the average Canadian has very little insight into how the technology our society runs on actually works. Only the multinational vendor of that technology knows what that technology does and how it does it. These corporations control access to this knowledge through the Patent and Copyright laws. Now don't get me wrong: patent and copyright laws are good things. It's just that these laws have already been expanded significantly in recent years and, as this Canadian Copyright Act amendment proposal illustrates, it is easy to end up with too much of a good thing. These laws are now making the worlds great multi-national publishing and technology companies the worlds most profitable corporations.
Your new legislation would further, and unnecessarily, empower these corporations. Specifically the "anti-circumvention" provisions in the proposed legislation would treat every Canadian as a criminal in order to control those few Canadians who might actually be crooks. These provisions call for laws that would criminalize the writing of software and even the possession of software tools that have many legitimate uses. But because these tools "might" be used to pirate a song this law calls for the RCMP to throw you in jail just for owning the tool, not for pirating the song. It's like a law that made owning screwdrivers illegal because they can be used to commit crimes such as break and enter, or robbery.
The ironic part of this effort by the world's music publishers for this flawed legislation to combat the pirating of copyrighted songs, is that despite all the hype of Napster and Gnutella creating a generation of Canadians who do not respect the musicians copyrights, the sales of copyrighted CD's are at all-time highs. The simple fact is that the average Canadian is honest and law-abiding. We don't need new laws like this proposed anti-circumvention rule to protect multi-national publishers from their Canadian customers. This transfer of power to the multinational publishing and technology firms, at the cost of rights currently held by all Canadians, is designed to solve a nonexistent problem.
My primary concern is these anti-circumvention rules will pose a serious threat to Canadian entrepreneurs. These rules will enable the global publishers to stop not just criminals from stealing their copyrighted intellectual property, but will enable them to stop competitors from offering alternative solutions to the marketplace. It's like the Canadian homebuilders association getting you to pass laws making the possession of screwdrivers illegal. Without access to the tools how will a young entrepreneur get into the homebuilding business? Without new entrants into an industry as important as homebuilding you can be sure the cost of homes will go up and the quality will fall, and the Canadian consumer will suffer. The technology and publishing industries would suffer in exactly this way if we give the current dominant suppliers in those industries the additional powers envisioned by this legislation.
Keep in mind that ours is an amazingly creative industry. So we don't need new laws to protect intellectual property. There are at least a hundred and one technical solutions to securing control of, say, movie distribution over the Internet. The technology already exists for Disney to display Bambi on the net without fear that they will lose control of that property. This proposed law would, I'm sure, be a great convenience to Disney by reducing their need to use that technology. Passing laws restricting the freedoms of all Canadians for the convenience of multinationals such as the Disney corporation is a foolish use of Canadian government and police resources.
Other points to consider include the fact that your proposal to amend our already very generous copyright laws runs counter to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom's guarantee of freedom of speech. It is also being justified as being needed to bring Canada's copyright laws in line with the terms of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) treaty that Canada has signed. The only problem with this justification is that the final wording of the WIPO treaty does not require the anti-circumvention provisions being proposed by Industry Canada.
But back to the issue of freedom: the additional corporate rights your legislation would grant will come at the expense of the freedom of individual Canadians. Freedom entrepreneurial Canadians are going to need if we are to count on them to create the companies and the jobs Canada will need in future, here's why:
Innovation is dependent on the free distribution of knowledge. Adam Smith's "invisible hand of the market" means no know one knows in advance where and when the next great innovation, and the next successful Canadian technology corporation is going to come from. These products and companies are a result of an environment that encourages their creation. That environment requires freedom. Freedom of speech, thought, action, and most of all free access to knowledge.
Since entrepreneurial activity and innovation is dependent on a free markets and the free exchange of ideas to work, the less freedom, the less innovation. The more an aspiring entrepreneur is required to check with a government database to find out if his idea is still free for him to use to build his next company the less likely he will be to launch the business. Or if she is required to ask a major multi-national for permission to use the innovative idea her business is based on the less likely she will be to get her enterprise off the ground.
Innovative products are the fuel that gives the consumers, or citizens in a free society, the increased choice, improved lives, and improved standard of living that we take for granted. This freedom to innovate is the engine of free societies which has increased the wealth and life span of the average Canadian dramatically during the last century. Putting this engine of innovation at risk by giving multi-nationals more rights than they already have, at the expense of the rights of Canadians, is an experiment that cannot be justified.
If we give the largest American multinationals control over the knowledge that we are using to build our digital infrastructures on, you can be sure they will, not unnaturally, use that control to restrict competition. This will work to maximize their profits but will work against creating the environment that the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs are going to need to have access to in order to be successful.
The first experiment with the the sort of expanded digital copyright laws you are considering has been the US's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA is resulting in exactly the reduction in innovation and entrepreneurial opportunity its critics predicted. The result has been innovative programmers being thrown in jail for no other reason than discussing the merits of the technologies our society is increasingly reliant on at industry conferences. The multi-national who "owns" the technology being criticized is using the DMCA's provisions to eliminate that critical review. Obviously a result not consistent with the values of a free market democracy like Canada's.
There is simply no need to expand Intellectual Property laws further than they have been expanded in recent years. If it ain't broke why fix it? Particularly when the proposed "fix" works against the interests of Canadians and the future success of the Canadian technology industry.
I would be pleased to discuss this issue with you further at your convenience. Please contact me by return email or by phone
(Email and phone number enlevée)
Chairman and Co-Founder, Red Hat Inc. www.redhat.com, and Chairman and Founder of the Center for the Public Domain, www.centerpd.org
(also: Founder Vernon Computer Rentals of Toronto, and Formerly CEO Hamilton Computer Sales and Leasing of Mississauga, Ont.)
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