Update (December 3, 2007) - I have posted a newly updated version of what you can do in light of the forthcoming Canadian DMCA. The posting includes a YouTube video, a Facebook group, and updated contact information.
Update (November 29/07): With a Canadian DMCA seemingly imminent, the importance of speaking out has never been more important. Some details on the likely new bill can be found here. I've updated the 30 Things You Can Do to reflect the new Ministers.
The House of Commons is back in session and, as I promised last month, the 30 Days of DRM project has now concluded. The postings remain accessible via the 30 Days of DRM page, the wiki, and a new PDF version that incorporates all postings into a single document.
The project generated considerable commentary online and lots of email offline. The most frequently asked question provides reason for optimism as many people simply asked "what can I do?" I typically responded that the best starting point was to write to their local Member of Parliament. Upon reflection, there is more that can be done and to that end, I offer up 30 things you can do about the issues raised by the 30 days of DRM project.
Update: Many people have written to ask for specific advice about letters to their MP. I am very reluctant to tell anyone what they should say to their elected representative or other groups with a voice on copyright reform. Rather, my hope is that the 30 Days of DRM series provides some of the background materials needed for people to form their own opinions on the issue. However, it should be noted that Online Rights Canada's letter writing feature provides some customizable advice on the letter's content.
- Write to your local Member of Parliament. Letters (which are better than email) from just a handful of constituents is enough to get the attention of your local MP. Contact information for all MPs is available here. Online Rights Canada also provides an easy way to write to your local MP.
- Write to the Prime Minister of Canada. Contact information here.
- Write to
Bev Oda Josee Verner, the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Minister Verner is one of the two ministers responsible for copyright policy in Canada. Prior Canadian Heritage Ministers have been perceived to be close to U.S. copyright lobby groups and copyright collectives. Ministry contact information here. Minister Oda's contact information here. Minister Verner's contact information is here.
- Write to
Maxime Bernier, Jim Prentice, the Minister of Industry. Minister Prentice is responsible for the Copyright Act in Canada. Despite the fact that Minister Prentice trumpeted his pro-consumer approach on the spectrum auction issue, the rumour mill suggests that he supports DMCA-style reforms. Minister Bernier's contact information here. Minister Prentice's contact information is here.
- Ask each political party where it stands on copyright. Copyright policy could prove to be a divisive issue in the months ahead - ask each political party for their views on the issue.
- Write to Canadian Heritage's Copyright Policy Branch. The Copyright Policy Branch is home to a large contingent of bureaucrats focused on copyright matters. Contact information here.
- Write to Industry Canada's Intellectual Property Policy Directorate. The IPPD is Industry Canada's counterpart on copyright policy, though it addresses a broader range of IP issues. Contact information here (scroll to the bottom).
- Write to your local Member of Provincial Parliament or Member of the Legislative Assembly. There is a strong provincial dimension to copyright reform, particularly given its impact on education, privacy, consumer issues, and property rights. The provinces have remained largely silent on copyright, yet they may be forced to address many of the unintended consequences that arise from federal Copyright Act reform. Contact information for Ontario MPPs here.
- Write to your Provincial Minister of Education. Earlier this month, I wrote about the troubling advocacy of Canada's Ministers of Education, who are seemingly willing to trade an unnecessary Internet exception for anti-circumvention legislation. Contact information for Ontario Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne is here.
Sandra Pupatello here. For the other Ministers of Education here.
- Write to your local school board. Local school boards can play an important role in the copyright reform process by engaging teachers, parents, and students (witness the recent reaction of several boards to the Captain Copyright issue). Contact information for Ontario school boards here.
- Write a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs on Canada's international copyright position. Canada has remained disappointingly silent on important international copyright issues at WIPO (for example, see my recent column on the WIPO Broadcast Treaty). DFAIT should be standing up for Canadian interests at such international meetings as well as during bi-lateral trade negotiations with the United States. Contact information here.
- Write to Library and Archives Canada to ask that it support the preservation of Canadian heritage. The LAC should be a leading voice against the use of DRM that could lock Canadians out of their own heritage. It could advocate for DRM-free deposits, reforms to facilitate Canadian digitization programs, and the preservation of all user rights. Contact information here.
- Write to the Competition Bureau of Canada. The combination of DRM and anti-circumvention legislation raises significant marketplace competition concerns. The Competition Bureau must become engaged on this issue by advocating pro-competitive reforms. Moreover, it should be investigating cases of alleged abusive use of DRM. Contact information here.
- Write the Office of Consumer Affairs or your provincial consumer protection ministry. The use of DRM raises numerous consumer concerns, potentially requiring specific consumer protection provisions and labeling requirements. The federal OCA can be contacted here. Provincial contacts here.
- Write to your federal or provincial privacy commissioner to ask for their support in protecting your personal privacy against DRM. Several of Canada's privacy commissioners have publicly called on the government to address the privacy concerns associated with copyright reform, a position which deserves public support. Privacy commissioner contacts here.
- Raise the issue with your local library. The library community has been very engaged on copyright and will undoubtedly be a vocal stakeholder for any future reforms. At the local level, libraries can be encouraged to establish copyright policies that fully support user rights and to educate the local community on important access issues. Ontario public library directory here.
- Raise the issue with your local school. If you are in school or have children currently in school, inquire how the school addresses copyright issues. Does it take full advantage of user rights? Is it aware of how the education exceptions may be limited by anti-circumvention legislation?
- Sign a petition. There are petitions calling on the Canadian government to adopt a balanced approach to copyright here and here.
- Add your name to the Online Rights Canada mailing list. Online Rights Canada is a grassroots advocacy group that brings together EFF and CIPPIC to focus on online rights issues. Mailing list information here.
- Buy online DRM-free alternatives. The copyright lobby argues that DRM is a pre-requisite to offering digital content online, yet there are many DRM-free online music services. For example, eMusic, the largest such service, is now the second largest online music service worldwide.
- Support music labels that offer their music without DRM or copy-controls. This one is easy since virtually every Canadian label does not use copy-control technologies. The exceptions are the foreign labels represented by CRIA such as Sony BMG.
- Ensure that your local retailer will accept returns on DRM'd products. Many retailers sell DRM'd products without altering return policies to account for the fact that the products may not function as expected. Raise this with your local retailer and encourage them to adopt liberal return policies for DRM'd products.
- Ask your ISP what it is doing to stand up for your rights. Canada's Internet service providers play an important role in defending user rights by only disclosing subscriber personal information with a court order, informing subscribers of requests for their personal information, and by lobbying for an expanded fair dealing provision. Ask your ISP for its policies on these issues.
- Participate in a local meeting on copyright. There are a growing number of local "meetup" style meetings that bring together citizens concerned with balanced copyright. If there is a meeting group in your area, go. If not, get one started.
- Support more balanced copyright positions from artists and creator groups. Many artists and creators are increasingly abandoning policy positions that favour U.S. style reforms and instead embracing a more balanced approach. If you are a musician, consider joining the CMCC. If you are an artist, consider joining the Appropriation Art coalition. If you are a writer, consider pushing for change within Access Copyright.
- Use Creative Commons licensing. Creative Commons, which adopts a "some rights reserved" approach to copyright provides an exceptional (and exceptionally easy) method of supporting both copyright and access. More information on the Canadian licenses here.
- Read license terms. Day 30 of the project focused on the increasing use of contract to limit or eliminate user rights. Until legislation blocks the use of such terms, consumers should proactively read license terms and reject those that unfairly limit their user rights.
- Track media coverage of copyright. Until recently, media coverage on copyright rarely questioned the sound bites from the copyright lobby. That is changing, but Canada's media should be challenged when it fails to do so. Letters to the editor or a op-eds are a great place to start.
- Educate yourself. The 30 Days of DRM project should be a beginning, not the end. There are lots of great sources on the implications of copyright reform, many of which are listed on my blogroll. One useful source is In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law, a book published last year by Irwin Law under a Creative Commons license. The book, which I edited, features contributions from 19 professors from across Canada. You can also listen to a podcast version of my Hart House lecture from earlier this year which also touched on these issues.
- Educate others. Once you know more about copyright reform issues, tell others. Educate friends, family, and co-workers. Copyright impacts us all.
Monday September 18, 2006