template letter to send to Canadian government, against copyright “reform”

Updated 6 May 2010: a shorter, sharper edit
Wanted: the name of the bill in question

If you object to the Harper government pushing, in six weeks, DMCA-style copyright law on Canada (a bill that could rob you of internet service for being suspected of file-sharing, a bill that will protect not just content but digital locks), feel free to copy, customize, and mail the letter below.
To get your letter read, include your home mailing address. You could email it, but paper carries more clout. Hand-writing, even more. (See the comments below.) So I’ve replaced the original, longer draft (still here, at bottom) with a shorter letter that mentions ACTA too. (Why not? ACTA will make a bad deal worse.) I still welcome feedback for improving this letter, and the more I read the more I think sending letters can make a difference.
And if you still think this law is just a crackdown on mp3 “stealers” (downloading’s still legal in Canada…for the next six weeks anyway), see RiP: A Remix Manifesto, or talks by Harvard law prof Lawrence Lessig, who explains how copyright “reform” is strangling creativity and threatening rights and freedoms.


To: Hon. James Moore, Hon. Tony Clement

CC: Right Hon. Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Opposition; Marc Garneau, Liberal Industry critic; Pablo Rodriguez, Liberal Heritage critic; Charlie Angus, NDP Digital Affairs Critic; [AND YOUR MP]

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6

Dear Ministers Moore and Clement,

I am writing to state my firm opposition to your proposed copyright legislation, which would gravely harm Canada’s citizens, economy, and sovereignty. I am writing to the leaders of the opposition to urge them to make your proposed copyright bill a non-confidence motion. I am also encouraging everyone I know to write letters to their MPs, your government, and the opposition.

Canadian intellectual property law reform must include a flexible approach to fair dealing, to drive business innovation and protect freedom of expression in Canada’s cultural, educational, and technology sectors. Lacking this flexible approach, your proposed legislation threatens innovation and free speech, and would criminalize many legitimate kinds of copying and consumption (digital or otherwise). Canadian copyright reform must expand fair dealing rights, not restrict them.

Moreover, your bill’s anti-circumvention provisions attempt to protect far more than intellectual property as such, and would criminalize not just copying, but how consumers use what they buy. Any proposed IP law reform has no business determining the personal use of purchased products.

Your proposed legislation would destroy the traditional balance between vendors and users, between intellectual property protection and public access, a balance that is essential to our nation’s economic growth and competitiveness. Your proposed copyright bill would authorize private, transnational corporations and their intermediaries to exercise an unacceptable amount of legal and technological power over Canadian citizens, grievously infringing on our rights to freedom and privacy.


P.S. I am as firmly opposed to the Canadian government’s participation in ACTA, and your refusal of public accountability and consultation in the ACTA talks.


Dear Ministers Moore and Clement,

I am writing to urge your government to rethink and suspend passing its proposed copyright bill. By protecting strong digital locks and rejecting flexible fair dealing, your proposed legislation will destroy the traditional balance between the interests of creators and the interests of the general public in the sectors of culture and technology, and will do great harm to the Canadian economy, stifling innovation and criminalizing consumption.

I am sending copies of this letter to my MP and the Opposition to ask that the Opposition make your proposed bill a motion of non-confidence, particularly for the government’s refusal to factor the feedback of Canadian citizens on this issue into its proposals.

The government’s proposed copyright legislation reproduces punitive models of IP law like the USA’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act or the UK’s Digital Economy bill, which impose unacceptable limits on industrial innovation, economic growth, free speech, and human rights. The debate over Canadian copyright “modernization” has been inappropriately dominated by special interest industry lobby groups like the Canadian Recording Industry (CRIA), which represent intermediaries, not creators or the public. Such lobby groups cannot legitimately claim to politically represent the interests of creators, many of whom support a more flexible, balanced and fair-dealing approach to intellectual property (IP) law. Creators realize that creativity builds on the past, and that the protection of creators’ rights includes the protection of users’ rights, in order to sustain cultural and technological industries in Canada, and in order to foster future generations of creators and innovators.

The implementation of DMCA- and Digital Economy Bill-style legislation in Canada not only ignores the rulings of Canada’s Supreme Court–which have repeatedly upheld that file downloading is legal for personal, non-commercial uses–but also exceeds the bounds of intellectual property law with provisions for the technological protection measures (or “digital locks”) developed by copyright holders to control not just how a product is distributed, but how it is used.

Unless it makes more citizen-minded provisions for fair dealing and drops its protections for digital locks, your legislation does not represent the interests of Canadians and will spell economic disaster for Canada’s multibillion-dollar cultural and technology industries.

Thousands of Canadians, including hundreds of people who are in creative or innovation industries, have signed petitions, mobilized on social networks and written to their MPs, your ministry, and the Prime Minister, to advocate a more balanced vision, only to face legislation that ignores your constituents’ interests in favour of those of the industry lobbies.

I thank you for reading my objection to your proposed bill and hope that your government will prioritize Canadians’ interests over those of transnational industry lobbies. I recommend you look to the example of India’s recent IP legislation as a model for modernizing copyright in the interests of Canadian citizens.


(Thanks to Russell McOrmond for his earlier sharing of a generic letter advocating fair copyright for Canada.)

4 responses to “template letter to send to Canadian government, against copyright “reform”

  1. Gail Vanstone

    This legislation is ill-advised. I am wholly opposed to its passing into Canadian law.

  2. academicalism

    Over at Michael Geist’s blog, one Les Benson offers the following tips for writing to the government:

    “Basic letter writing guide: Four C’s: Clear, Correct, Concise, and Convincing.

    “One page maximum and preferably hand-written. Don’t use a form letter or email. No Stamp. Address to:
    Member’s or Minister’s name
    House of Commons
    Ottawa ON, K1A 0A6

    “Add your full name, titles etc, address, email and phone number at bottom.

    “I’d send one copy to the Minister and a copy to my MP–and perhaps to other party leaders.

    “Read several of the available form letters linked here (and/or Google ‘Letters to MP Canada’). Make a list of topics/points you support. Then, the next day, write your own letter–based on the topics and points you have extracted from the form letters–DON’T RE-READ THEM. Be polite. Put letter in a good grammar and spell checker, re-read it the following day. Get your spouse’s or a friend’s comments. Correct and mail.”


  3. academicalism

    More tips from comments on Geist’s blog, for effective letter-writing to politicians:

    From SB:
    “speaking from someone on the inside your letters DO make a difference.
    “But you need to include your Name and Address and you should send them to the minister, the Prime Minister, Michael Ignatieff (Liberal), Jack Layton (NDP) and your MP.
    “Doesn’t have to be long, better if its not a template letter. Just put the bill number and put that you don’t support it.”

    From Chortick, a link to Omar Ahmad’s TED talk, “Political change with pen and paper”:

    From Gerry:
    “Let your local member know that not only will they lose your vote, but you will actively lobby your family, friends and acquaintances to switch their vote also. If you write to a politician as one person, you will be ignored, but write as a spokesperson for a group and it is a game changer. Gather a list names and signatures, and attach it to your letter.”

  4. The government pandering to the wishes of international corporations instead of doing what is right for their constituents.
    from a jaded person that has grown to detest politicians, regardless of their political affiliations.

    G Hope

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