Yet another example of two-timing by Michael Geist (aka “he who shall not be named,” according to a prominent Canadian artist). (Geist is advisor to the U.S.-backed Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Alcan of IP with its almost 100% American board). Geist, the non-lobbyist beneficiary of tens of thousands of public dollars in “consulting” contracts from Industry Canada (not to mention the receiving over $1 million in funding for his academic seat and projects from Industry Canada and other government bureaucracies–most charged with developing copyright laws for Canada), is criticizing the Canadian label trade association for too many meetings. And how do the people know how many meetings were had? Because the trade association is a registered lobbyist and has to disclose the meetings publicly.
To be clear, it would not seem that Geist is a “lobbyist” in a strict legal sense. But what do you call someone who is in frequent contact with a client who pays them to participate in a public debate knowing they will advocate a particular point of view? Particularly when those contracts are all just under the legal limits by which the public money has to be put out for competitive bid for the “work” concerned so the recipient is hand-picked. Which I understand to mean that if you worked at Industry Canada and you controlled the budget for particular work, you could hire your allies as long as you paid them under $25,000. Or what do you call someone who is promoting an advocacy campaign launched by a trade association? Maybe he was paid, maybe he wasn’t. Hard to say given the lack of transparency. But what we do know, thanks to CBC’s Wendy Mesley, Google, Yahoo, Rogers and Telus are all lobbying Geist pals Industry Canada and Heritage Canada (who Geist seems to be placing in the not so much column lately). About what? The yet to be introduced new copyright legislation. And let’s see–Google and Yahoo! are in Geist darling CCIA–see our discussion of his CCIA puff piece in “The Geist in the Hen House.”
Either Geist, or his minders at Industry Canada, seem very interested in what is being said to Heritage Minister James Moore. Two thoughts: Before Geist whines about a lack of transparency in others, he should clean his own house. I can’t believe that he could have obtained as much money and benefit from Industry Canada as he has without having many, many, many contacts of his own. And presumably he was talking about policy. But we don’t know what he said in these discussions. And the “we” in that sentence includes “we” in the global creative community because Geist is daily becoming less of Lessig’s understudy and is taking more of a lead in policies that affect our business.
And I’m so sure that he paid his own way to testify in Europe and New Zealand with no reimbursements. I’m so sure.
Sounds like…a lobbyist?