Sunday, January 14, 2007

Call to Arms!

I'll tell you a secret; I follow politics. I'm not really what you'd call a 'political guy', but I'll be the first one to dial up the election returns with a big ol' bowl of popcorn. You'll never find me storming the gates of Parliament with the proletariat, though. I'm much too lazy for that stuff.

But sometimes, I get pissed. For example, when Ottawa put a tax on many forms of recordable media - just to reimburse artists in case I use that media for illegally recording music or video - I got pissed. Of course, no one in Ottawa knew I was upset about this plan. Consequently, the tax in now in place. I like to think if the muckety-mucks had known I was miffed, they probably would have changed their minds.

What's pissing me off these days is an impending batch of changes to Canadian copyright laws that would effectively eliminate the notion of Fair Use. An example: it's perfectly legal (in Canada) to rip a CD that you own and copy its content onto your MP3 player for your own use. This is Fair Use, but under Ottawa's proposed legislative changes this will be illegal. The CBC has a good article on the topic.

In a nutshell, these changes are being considered under extreme pressure from Big Media and would move us further towards a somewhat-international (read: American) model of Digital Rights Management (DRM). This is bad - unless you like being told how and when you can enjoy music, movies, TV, software, and any other form of 'media content' that you thought you paid for. However, this is good for (some) content creators since they can decide how and when they'll take their pound of flesh even after you've actually paid them for their product.

In the meantime, Michael Geist (Canadian media law professor) maintains a kick-ass blog on the subject which will give you all the gory details if you're so inclined. And if you really want to voice your displeasure, contact your MP. For couch vegetation like myself, this has been made almost too easy. For the more ambitious, you can phone or write your MP starting here.

So, get pissed like me. You'll feel better.