Controversy Erupts over Exclaim! Interview with NDP MP About Copyright Laws

Controversy Erupts over Exclaim! Interview with NDP MP About Copyright Laws
Exclaim!'s recent interview with NDP MP Charlie Angus, in which he calls for more progressive copyright laws, has caused quite a stir amongst the NDP and the American Federation of Musicians.

It all started when fellow NDP MP Olivia Chow and the Canadian Federation of Students handed out flyers that included Angus's interview with Exclaim!, featured in our September issue, outside a town hall meeting about copyright in Toronto. When Alan Willaert, the Canadian rep of the American Federation of Musicians, caught wind of the flyers, he fired back a mass email that demanded an apology for the comments made by Angus in the interview.

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law, reprinted Willaert's email on his blog and here's what Willaert had to say:

I am attaching a flyer that was handed out by Olivia Chow at last night's Copyright Town Hall meeting at the Royal York in Toronto. I am sure all of you will find its content equally as disgusting as I did. In light of the fact that the NDP at its convention in Halifax this month dealt with a resolution identified as 6-21-09 Expanding Party Policy on "Supporting Canadian Creativity," and showed clear support for "ensuring appropriate copyright protection so that creators are fairly compensated for their intellectual property," I am shocked that both Chow and Charlie Angus are allowed to openly depart from party policy and directive, obviously just to shamelessly buy votes among young people and academics. We intend on taking the NDP to task over this, and will accept nothing less than a retraction of Ms. Chow's statements and an apology.

Meanwhile, Boing Boing recently posted a response by Angus, who has a background in the Canadian music scene and played in Montreal punk bands L'Etranger and the Juno-nominated Grievous Angels. Angus defends his position and says he was not straying from the NDP's policy around copyright control.

Here's the response:

The attack was caused by Olivia Chow handing out an interview I did with Exclaim! on how copyright changes could benefit independent Canadian bands. Exclaim! did the interview with me because of my background with DIY bands. Seems to me the interview is consistent with what the NDP have always said on this file - we want artists to be able to benefit from the massive stream of information being traded, but we don't want average citizens turned into criminals...

I was elected to participate in discussions about public policy. I have never heard of a lobbyist group demand an apology for speaking out about a totally botched piece of legislation like Bill C-61. If they spent less time running email attacks and more time speaking with the various players they might realize that the NDP position has been balanced and consistent from the beginning. As for a public recanting to satisfy the C-61 lobby? Sorry, dude... it ain't happening.

To read Exclaim!'s entire interview with Angus, click here.