November 28, 2008

ACTA Concerns

The Government of Canada is seeking the views of Canadians on the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

Michael Geist does not seem optimistic about the whole thing but I am going to be cup half full. I must admit it is going to be challenging to craft a coherent letter with the information that has been released so far.

The following is the first draft of my letter. Keep in mind I am not a English major. If you see any typos please leave a comment and I shall correct it.

Counterfeiting is a touchy issue and my concerns are with the ordinary Canadian consumer. My fear is that the "effective legal framework" is going to be over reaching and hurt business, artists, and consumers.

Strong intellectual property laws can hurt innovation though frivolous lawsuits and questionable patents. I find this is especially rampant in the tech industry. One quick look at Techdirt shows how intellectual property has been abused so far. My personal favorite is trying to patent the process of patent trolling. What needs to be kept in mind is intellectual property is a form of temporary monopoly enforced by the state with the goal of growing the economy and creating innovation. Having abusive intellectual property laws does not help that goal. I recommend intellectual property laws in moderation.

Any enforcement practice needs to respect peoples privacy. I am strongly against searching laptops at the border because I believe laptops to be a extension of the mind, especially in the business world. People should not be subjected to unwarranted searches under the ACTA.

Criminal enforcement needs to differentiate commercial piracy from non-commercial priracy as well having rules to protect the system from abuse. Without this separation lives can be ruined though expensive and long lasting lawsuits.

The ACTA should not target internet distribution and information technology. Any changes to that area can have far reaching and unpredictable effects which is why exhaustive public consultation is needed before even signing noncommittal treaties.

These are some of my recommendations and hopefully that will be taken into consideration.

Thanks for reading.

November 26, 2008

Mike Lake

Despite my best efforts it looks like I will not be able to get a meeting with Mike Lake at the moment. I hit a hurdle I expected to hit a while ago. At the moment there is no really active members in Fair Copyright for Canada - Edmonton Chapter that I know of in Mike Lake's riding (If someone reading this is one please get in contact with me). I understand the reasoning behind the decision and I respect it. There is really nothing more I can do.

Thumbs up for Jackie at Mike Lake's local office. She has been nothing but kind and helpful. She attempted to talk me into trying yet again to get a meeting with my own MP. Thanks, but no thanks. Maybe when a bill is released I will attempt to meet with her again if only just for fun.

November 2, 2008

How to: Meet a MP

Somehow I have managed to get meetings with a few MPs so I might was well share some of my thoughts on how to get meetings. If anyone knows of a actual how to guide or have additional pointers please post it in the comments.
  • Have some thing in writing and send it in before hand
It is best to have your thoughts in writing and send it in before hand. It organizes your thoughts and it will help prepare the MP for the topic your about to discuss. It is especially important for topics that are very specific or not popular.
  • Make phone calls
It is better to make a request for a meeting by phone call instead of e-mail. I prefer to catch a person and not go to voice mail which means phoning during business hours. I also try and reference the piece of writing I sent in before hand. Remember, the receptionist is your friend so be kind.
  • I believe that (my/every) MP should understand the effects of copyright legislation
This is my favorite line to use because I believe it and it gets passed the "I will pass your concerns onto..." line. As well, being the proactive person you are, you already did pass on your concerns to the person they suggested. Way to go.
  • Be flexible
Seriously, MPs are busy people. If you have to wait 2 months for a meeting that is ok. Just ask the receptionist, your new best friend, when is the best time to phone back for a meeting. MPs set aside time to come back from parliament and meet with their constituents so take advantage of it.
  • When in doubt do your best and be kind
Just the fact you took your time and are polite is usually enough to meet a MP or, at the very least, for the MP to seriously read your letter.

That is what I have figure out so far. Not bad considering I had nothing to go off of in the beginning.