Jun 16, 2008

Faux Libel "Outrage"

From the "I can't believe a twit would say this" category of comments:
"The Conservatives are trying to "shut up the opposition by taking them to court" over the Chuck Cadman affair and could financially cripple the Liberals if the court proceedings drag on, says one political expert.

"It's not only libel chill, this goes at the very heart of the economics of politics," says University of Ottawa professor Michael Behiels"
What. A. Crock.

If a politician stands up in parliament and accuses another member (or party) of doing something or other, he or she is protected by parliamentary privilege. That's why we hear so many nutty accusations, charges, questions and statements from the inmates on Parliament Hill. Anything can be said, subject only to the Speaker's judgment of what is, or is not, "parliamentary".

And the populace, knowing that venues like Question Period are only outlets for parliamentarians (poor) acting ability, generally ignores these antics.

But when a politician steps outside of parliament (senate or house) and makes statements in the public media, he or she is exposed to the law of the land just as you and I would be. If that statement is what an aggrieved party believes to be slander or libel, the aggrieved party can take the utterer to court.

That's what happened with the Liberal party's statements about the Prime Minister. Not only were these statements made outside of parliament in front of the cameras (purely calculated to garner free publicity), they were allegedly made also on the Liberal Party's website.

So, please, don't give me all that guff about "libel chill". If a politician wants to make "questionable" statements, do it within the parliamentary infrastructure, where protection exists. But, if a politician or party knowingly makes (alleged) false or inaccurate statements outside that wall of protection, well ... they have to face the music, just like you and I.

Libel is libel, and no one (especially the Liberal Party) is above the law. And if they don't have the money to defend a libel action, then don't make such accusations in the first place.

I have zero sympathy for Dion and his Agents of Smear. Let them understand that their "entitlements" (that's the way they think) don't extend to being above the law. Let them also learn the principle of being accountable for their own conscious actions.

Jun 14, 2008

If the CPC is Thinking of a Future Agenda ...

Then perhaps the Conservative Party of Canada should start thinking about representing the interests of ordinary Canadians, rather that just the interests of big business or, more succinctly, the interests of American business.

1. Codify the rights of ordinary Canadians in a new Copyright Act. As their draft now stands, it trashes our rights. For a starting point, maybe something along the lines of my previous post?

2. Explicitly protect ordinary Canadians when monopoly conditions (pseudo or actual) exist, such as:

- strange that Westjet and Air Canada fares are within a few cents of each other, when the two have dissimilar cost structures? And how about a Canadian Travellers' Bill of Rights addressing flight cancellations, delays, baggage allowances, lost luggage, snotty service?

- when your only wired telephone company, cable TV provider, internet provider is a single company in town and has no incentive to be competitive or improve service offerings?

- when you only have one natural gas provider on your street; moreover, why does natural gas go up lockstep in price with oil? Did their discovery, transmission, etc., costs change?

3. Move quickly to make clear in Human Rights legislation that free speech is a right, not a whim to be ignored by the kangaroo-courts style antics of so-called Human Rights Tribunals. Why not abolish the tribunals, turn the job of enforcement over to the courts where the rule of law actually exists (rathered than ignored), and where the playing field (costs, evidence, burden of prooof, etc.) is levelled for the complainant and the respondent?

4. Quickly mandate where tasers can be used, the circumstances, and usage guidelines. Not to mention automatic liability of those who ignore or disobey the legislation!

5. Restore the Freedom of Information process which has been trashed since the Conservatives got into power. Delays, exclusions, waffling, etc., are the hallmarks of the "new Conservative government", rather than the more open and transparent government that they promised in their platform and during the last election. When revising the legislation, put stiff personal financial and prison penalties into it to address foot-dragging, exceeding permissible time limits, etc., by anyone, bureaucrats and ministerial (incl. staff) alike!

6. Start putting mandatory, non-negotiable minimum sentences into crime legislation, especially crimes involving firearms. Also consider a minimum of 75% of sentence serving before eligible for parole.

7. Establish an on-the-spot complaints/resolution/escalation process for travellers harassed by process-focussed, ill-trained and ill-supervised security yahoos at airports. Who in our federal government is actually responsible and accountable for the antics of these yahoos, anyway?

8. Actually DO SOMETHING about telemarketers and e-mail spam! Implement immediately do-not-call, do-not-email legislation and lists on the basis that you have to opt-in explicitly to receive this crap. By the way, if you want to opt out of junkmail delivered by Canada Post, you will also miss notices from your municipality about garbage collection calendars, town meeting, etc. Surely to God you can fix this up, Harper. Right now the supposed "opt out service" is a sham, one written to cater 100% to the needs of business, while screwing oredinary Canadians 100% also.

This would be a start. Harper, feel free to use any of these points. I couldn't give a rat's posterior about attribution!

If you can't stand up for ordinary Canadians, Harper, then you and your cohorts deserve to be turfed from office!

The Copyright Bill: A Complete Sellout

I've looked at the draft legislation and, along with comments on the web, have come to the conclusion that it's a complete sellout of the rights of Canadians. If not a betrayal and a big PR lie.

Let me state what I think the CPC should consider the RIGHT of all Canadians, and which the CPC should embody in any copyright legislation:

1. To be able to buy software, music and movies and whatnot in any form, whether on paper, film, , CD, DVD, downloaded, etc., and be able to do what they want with it subject to limitation on copies to third parties, etc. To be clearer, we should be able to legally use purchased/licensed material in any format WE want, at any time and for any duration WE want, anywhere WE want, no matter what suppressive "conditions" are arbitrarily imposed by the seller/provider.

These "conditions" can be implicit, covering the case where (for example) legally purchased and downloaded music can only be played in an Apple device.

2. To be able to legally circumvent "locks", EULAs, shrink wrap gotchas, website conditions and their ilk, in order to achieve point one above. In other words, if sellers or makers of these media put in a lock or EULA condition to prevent the point one "prime directive" (a.k.a. fundamental user right) from being achieved, then we would be legislatively permitted to over-ride or destroy these punitive locks. As a corollary, writers/creators of lock circumvention technology would be protected legally. The central point is that the RIGHTS of Canadians trump "conditions". Not the other way around, as is the case with the current despicable draft conjured up by the Conservatives. "Worse than the U.S. DMCA?" Yes, you bet! In spades.

3. To have Net Neutrality. More clearly, to put an end to ISP, carrier and backbone provider discrimination of traffic type. If some people are purportedly using a disproportionate share of bandwidth, then charge them more for that usage. Don't penalize everyone else! It makes me furious to use a Torrent to download the latest copy of openSuse Linux, a free and GPL piece of software, and then see it reduced to a crawl because, in the tiny little minds at Bell and other carriers, "Torrent = Stealing/Illegal activity".

4. Nail anyone who illegally copies, downloads or otherwise "steals" software, music, movies, etc. That part of the proposed legislation I can support whole-heartedly, although the Conservatives either lie or fudge when they use their $500 "penalty" in press releases or talking points. This is because they "conveniently" forget to mention coverage or applicability of other (much higher $) legislation that pertains to some parts of the Copyright Bill. Better still, the CPC bill should make clear that these other pieces of legislation either apply, or explicitly (by amendment there) do not apply.

5. Canadians should have the explicit right to back up their legally-acquired media, at any time, in any format, on any media. You should not be forced to pay again for music (or software, etc.) that you already own because of a hard disk crash, or you bought a new computer, or a format (think of VCRs or, for a bigger joke, the Betamax format) went the route of the Dodo bird. If you have the right to back up, you can restore that digital data to another device of yours, any time, no limitation.

As an aside I hope this would put an end to the odious practice of companies like Microsoft who limit the number of changes you make to your PC before your MS operating system becomes "invalid" and you are forced to buy another copy of their crap. If, over the years, you want to upgrade your motherboard, memory, hard drive, etc., you shouldn't have to pay another tax to corporations like Microsoft, let alone more PST and GST to our "consumer supportive" --- NOT!) Canadian government(s).

6. Suppliers (creators, sellers, re-sellers, agents et al) of software, music, movies, etc., should be explicitly forced to agree that the media and content they are providing does not encumber the purchaser/licensor, is fit and in an operable (merchantable) state, does not contain trojans, rootkits, spyware, virii, and other types of malware, and the installation or use of the product will not disclose any personal or identifying information to anyone, including the supplier or its agents, etc. The Act should also contain great penalties (jail and monetary, theoverwhelming majority of the latter paid to users, in addition to administrative penalties to the government) for any Supplier breaking these conditions.

That is the extent of my thinking now on the matter of the highly-deceptive "balanced" copyright draft legislation foisted on Canadians by a mendacious CPC government.

It's also my bottom line. If the Conservative government fails to put in these most elementary and basic rights for all Canadian users, we should have no hesitation to cast them out of office.

Because if they don't represent the views of ordinary Canadians, and translate that into legislative support, then we really don't want them governing, do we? After all, they also refuse to step in to stop the erosion of our free speech rights by so-called "Human Rights" tribunals throughout Canada, don't they?

Jun 12, 2008

Betrayed and Deceived

Canadians, you have just been screwed royally by the Conservatives.

Prentice of the (Conservative) government tabled Bill C-61, the new Copyright Act, today. Almost simultaneously I received a canned e-mail from him, possibly in response to my own e-mail to him some time ago, essentially touting the "balanced" nature of this draft legislation.

Hogwash. Balderdash. Disingenious and, possibly, nothing but a bald-faced lie.

Users rights (that's me, you, consumers, etc.) are trashed. The music and entertainment suits get everything they want, and more. The proposed legislation is much, much worse than the infamous Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DCMA) of the United States. And if there ever was a sellout of consumer rights, that was one of biblical proportions!

Essentially, you and I have been screwed over by the Conservative. Sold out. Down the river.

Want to have the right to make a back up of your legally purchased movie or music on a DVD or Blu-ray? Sorry. That's explicitly criminal now under Bill C-61. Buy another copy instead, and enrich Prentice's new found American friends again.

Want to copy that "proprietary" song or video that you purchased from Apple on to your non-proprietary iPod-like device, or your own computer? Sorry, you will now be a criminal according to the Conservative's Bill C-61. And you can pay again for the pleasure of watching or listening again to something you already own.

Want to send your computer to that great boneyard in the sky and get a new one, and be able to copy the music and videos that you legally own to your new computer? Sorry, that's a criminal act under Bill C-61. Go out and buy (once again) the music or videos that you already own.

Did your hard drive just crash, taking all your years of legally purchased, expensive music and videos with it? Oh, you bought another hard drive and just want to restore (from backup) all the material that you already paid for? Sorry, that's illegal too. Go out and spend thousands again. Enrich those wonderful corporations, usually Americans, that the Conservatives have sucked up to so totally.

Could Prentice, Harper and the rest of the Conservatives have created a more one-sided, son-of-U.S. DMCA Copyright Act? I doubt it. Fair Use rights ignored. Consumers and users rights trashed. A sell out to the Americans.

And, the gall to even suggest that Bill C-61 is a "balanced" bill. On top of which Prentice cherry picks any "protection" that might be in it for the user/consumer.

For example, aren't you glad to know that you can legally make copies of your VCR tapes that you own? But not DVDs and newer storage media. Hellooooo, Prentice. Who the hell makes copies of VCR tapes, for God's sake. Who even has any more of these lying around?

Listen up, dummy. you are going to have to do better than using "you can copy VCR tapes" as an example of "balance" in legislation.

Harper, Prentice et al: Either let this legislation die on the Order Paper, or withdraw it. Then, get real and start doing what we elected you to do. Actually read all the submissions that Geist and other "average Canadians" have already made to you. Start representing all the interests of all Canadians. Not just the interests of American suits. And, for God's sake, stop sucking up to Americans. It's so demeaning seeing you in that awkward position!

Disclosure: I am a long-time, die-hard Conservative supporter. No more. I don't like being lied to, being ignored, and being used as cannon fodder just so that Harper can be lap dog to George Bush.

Remember the Income Trust betrayal! I'm still many $$$'s in the hole from that Conservative "promise".

Remember the Vancouver Taser Incident and the "I'm running away from my responsibility to protect Canadians" attitude and response of Stockwell Day. Even today, he's delaying publication of the report from that incident. Liars, toadies and cowards!

And don't forget that it was Keith Martin, a Liberal, who introduced and amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act so that all Canadians can get back our right to free speech, that has been trashed, trampled and ignored by "human rights tribunals" across Canada. Not the Conservative Party.

And don't forget that it is the NDP that is putting forth a motion to protect air (and I hope other) travellers from being treated like cattle to be milked by Canadian carriers. Not the Conservative Party.

Who the hell are the Conservatives "protecting" and serving? Not me and you. Just big business. Time and time again.