Negative reaction to the introduction of Bill C-61 has been a fascinating exercise in hyperbole, panic and outright paranoia. Check out this posting on Michael Geist's blog for links, mostly to those folks agreeing with him, but not always.
I've been reading comment streams endlessly, and it amazes me how completely anti-Americanism has become the central focus of this issue. Despite a decade-long process involving endless public discussion between Canadians who genuinely disagree on the policy directions here -- in straight numbers you have the now close to 50,000 consumers on Geist's Facebook group versus over 100,000 professional creators and many others whose livelihoods depend on strong intellectual property protections. And let me qualify my "versus."
Anyone willing to dig into the heart of this discussion will soon see that these are not two bristling camps separated by a wide moat filled with alligators. The actual discussions and disagreements are complex, detailed and unpredictable, with folks moving back and forth between the two territories as though they were separated only by a friendly and cooperative border -- like, for instance, the border between Canada and the US. I am one of Geist's 50,000 and I regularly disagree with him, as I do right now.
Yet the leaders of the protest side of the discussion continue to sell their argument with the rhetoric of comic-book style revolution and resistance, which of course feeds the comments streams and heightens the paranoia. I suppose one can't resist evil without first casting someone in the role of evil-doer. Yeah, you see where I'm going with this. Aren't we all just a little bit tired of the encouragement to make our policy decisions based on fear? For all the Bush- and Harper-bashing going on in this debate right now, the anti-C-61ers actually remind me most strongly of kool-aid drinking neocons bent on saving the world from nuance.
I'll end this posting with a question -- a genuine, non-partisan musing on where we are and where we might go:
Bill C-61 has a lot to say about digital locks and their circumvention. There is a whole segment of society -- the open access folks -- who think digital locks are the way of the past, who wish we could all just get along without having to lock our stuff up all the time. More often than not, I find myself hanging out with the free access folks -- if you haven't downloaded my freely accessible novel yet, please do so here -- because I can see that a trend toward mutual respect between creator and consumer is making digital locks unnecessary.
My response to laws protecting locks is to think "Okay, fair enough -- but I probably just won't buy locked stuff. Either that, or I will demand that the value I get from the product is greater than the inconvenience of the lock." I make free consumer decisions about these kinds of things and, more and more, so do a lot of folks. Here's the question -- if the market is encouraging the voluntary removal of unnecessary locks, then what difference does it make if we have a law protecting necessary locks?
Please try to answer the question without using the term "police state."