The professional creative community needs to pay close attention to what is happening to yet more creative jobs in the face of new copyright legislation in Canada. When you consider that the drafter of this legislation appears to be clearly under the influence of someone who does not care as much about her creative community as she does about satisfying the consumer electronics industry, all will become clear. The need to protect professional creators from the onslaught of geeks bearing gifts is very clear to the Canadian government, and particularly to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, in keeping with his ministerial duties.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ran a story about some remarks made by Minister Moore under the headline “Copyright Debate Turns Ugly.” The irony of that headline is really very funny. Where has the CBC been for the last 10 years? “Turns”? It certainly isn’t turning ugly, it’s been ugly ever since Metallica was mocked for standing up for the rights that they are entitled to under the law when their government abandoned them.
But let me tell you about “ugly” in an attempt to separate the tech from the dirt. One sensationalist website posted this comment by anonymous user “Murder” in response to a nasty posting about a Canadian artist speaking out about her thoughts on the plight of Canadian artists:”when do we get to start killing people for destroying our rights and freedoms?” Who was this directed at? In the context, it seems pretty clearly directed in the general direction of James Moore. I personally think it was directed at James Moore, but I will leave that to others to determine.
Now where was the CBC on this story? Nowhere to be found.
For those who toil in the vineyard of public policy in the copyright area, anonymous threats of violence (including threats of violence against innocent family members) are nothing new. These are dealt with in the normal course through normal channels. But anonymous threats—even veiled threats—against public officials is a whole new area.
“For none of us are as cruel as all of us.” The slogan for “Anonymous” is a remarkably candid assessment of the mob mentality that is of paramount concern to anyone who values democracy in society, whether offline or online. Jaron Lanier and other leading thinkers have cautioned us about what can happen when the mob takes over.
It’s one thing when the leaders of the anti-artist crowd start stirring the pot and winding up their followers over policy matters. It’s another thing altogether when they republish what can only be characterized as a likely anonymous death threat. I cannot imagine what possible justification there can be for such things, but we may find out.
I think that people like Geist have a moral obligation, if not a legal one, to openly condemn such tactics and the republication of such statements. I’m sure that Minister Moore’s security detail will handle the problem. But it would have been nice to find out if the CBC thought an anonymous death threat against a public official is uglier than pointed comments in a speech by a public official.