Amusement is not my usual reaction to bad things being said about my country, but sometimes the criticisms are so ridiculous and silly, I can’t help myself.
Consider the Globe and Mail article, “U.S. Group Wants Canada Blacklisted Over Piracy.”
The U.S. group in question is the International Intellectual Property Alliance. The Globe article correctly calls them a U.S. organization despite their name. Checking the IIPA’s web page, they call themselves a group of U.S.-based companies. Fair enough. Now it’s more clear where the criticisms originate. The suggestion of blacklisting from the country with the most draconian intellectual property laws might even be considered a good thing because the foundation of the criticism is that we haven’t enacted legislation to make our laws equally draconian.
I’m not saying Canada is a picture of perfection. No, things can certainly be improved, but reading the IIPA’s priority watch list entry about Canada reminds me a great deal of the over-the-top propaganda of the RIAA. Indeed, much like RIAA releases, the report attempts a heavy-handed influence by repeated phrases like, “Canada remains far behind virtually all its peers in the industrialized world with respect to its efforts to bring its copyright laws up to date with the realities of the global digital networked environment.”
The problem with such a phrase is it involves many assumptions. The most obvious is that our rejection of laws allowing the content providers to do whatever they please is somehow remaining far behind. Another big assumption they try to slide by is ‘the realities of the global digital networked environment’ requiring laws that carry more jail time for circumventing DRM than for crimes of far more significance. Seriously, if I copy the music to my portable music player from a copy-protected CD that I’ve bought, should I really go to jail, or settle and pay thousands of dollars? If legislation like this is what the IIPA considers cutting-edge and up to date, I’ll happily stay far behind.
I don’t advocate unlimited copying, we need a balance between the creators of the content and those who consume it. Perhaps doubly ironic is the record companies aren’t part of either of these groups, and many music artists disagree with their heavy-handed treatment of the public.
For goodness sakes, would fair treatment spawn web sites like RIAA Radar? Those sick and tired of the RIAA’s antics can use the site to find if an RIAA member is responsible for music they’re thinking about buying, and presumably reconsider.
Certainly artists deserve compensation for their work, but when the media companies treat their own customers like enemies, their customers will start acting like enemies. Regardless, we need an equitable balance. The media moguls would do well to remember they need the public more than the public needs them. Despite their rhetoric, they’re not about to stop selling their products to our 32 million people for this very reason.