NDP MP Charlie Angus Tears the Canadian Government a New One over Secret Copyright Treaty

NDP MP Charlie Angus Tears the Canadian Government a New One over Secret Copyright Treaty
Charlie Angus is at it again. The NDP MP, known in Canuck music circles as the former member of Montreal punk bands L'Etranger and the Juno-nominated Grievous Angels, is firing back against the Canadian government and a behind-closed-doors copyright treaty they are currently working on.

As we previously reported, Angus's call for more progressive copyright laws caused quite a stir last September after fallout due to an interview with Exclaim! He even spoke in November before Parliament, alongside UK folk singer Billy Bragg, against the criminalization of music downloaders and for more regulations on record companies charging for music downloads.

Now, Angus is taking Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Peter Van Loan to task over a secret copyright treaty without parliamentary oversight or input from the public. And, remember, this is the same government that recently spent tax dollars on a public commission in which thousands of Canadians provided their opinions on what to do with copyright laws.

The secret international treaty is called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and includes guidelines for border searches of personal computers and their downloaded content, and also allows Internet service providers the right to spy on and cut off online access to users who are downloading illegally.

Angus recently addressed Parliament with a host of questions, including why the government feels it necessary to discuss the copyright treaty in secrecy. Here is a section of his lengthy address, which can be seen below in its entirety:

1) First and foremost, why the secrecy? When the original WIPO treaties were being negotiated, the draft of texts were posted online and made available by Industry Canada. The federal government invited submissions on the process being undertaken.

ACTA, on the other hand, is being negotiated entirely behind closed doors. Your government has gone along with this process by freezing out input from Parliament, public interest groups and key internet industries that could be adversely affected. This secrecy undermines the credibility of the Ministers of Industry and Heritage who have both made efforts to engage the public prior to the development of any new copyright framework for Canada. Canadians deserve transparency on this issue. Therefore I am asking if you will produce for the House of Commons the latest draft held by your Department of the (a) civil enforcement, (b) border measures, (c) criminal enforcement and (d) intellectual property rights enforcement section of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement?

2) Will you produce the mandate letter given to Canada's negotiation team at ACTA? This will help provide the Canadian public with a sense of how far you've directed our representatives to go on key issues that affect our domestic laws and sovereignty.

3) What instructions have you given your negotiators regarding the issue of searching and seizing iPods and laptops at international border crossings for potential non-commercial infringement of copyright? The ACLU reports that U.S. customs officials searched hundreds of devices last year. Is Canada prepared to authorize similar activities at our borders in an effort to ferret out alleged infringements by private citizens?

4) Is your government willing to impose a 'Three Strikes and You're Out' approach to claims of copyright infringement?


Thanks to Boing Boing for the heads-up.