mesh Debate: A Conversation about Copyright

Last week, the Conference Board of Canada published a report titled “Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Economy”. A few days later, Dr. Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa professor and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, and a past mesh keynote, blogged about the report, asserting that it plagiarized the International Intellectual Property Alliance, the primary movie, music and software lobby in the U.S.. Dr. Geist also challenged the conclusions of the report and two other reports on intellectual property released by the Conference Board at the same time (see follow-up posts here).

The Conference Board rejected Dr. Geist’s characterization of the Digital Economy report, and says it stands by it.

At mesh we’re deeply interested in the role of intellectual property laws in the development of the Web and the role it plays in our society. Several keynotes and panels in past meshes have studied these and related issues, and we’re committed to supporting a healthy and vigorous public discussion about the proper role of intellectual property laws in Canadian society. We think this situation presents a great opportunity for furthering that discussion by studying the two core propositions of the Digital Economy report:

1. Canada’s copyright laws are lax, making it a haven of unauthorized file sharing

2. Strengthening copyright law is necessary for the development of a vigorous digital economy

To encourage a healthy, spirited and constructive dialogue, mesh is offering to host a debate on this issue. We’re asking the Conference Board to send two of the report’s authors to join in that debate – one to take the affirmative side of each of those two propositions. Representing the “No” side of these propositions will be Dr. Geist, and Mike Masnick, the founder of Floor64 and the Techdirt blog. Both are long-standing friends of mesh and well respected for their valuable contributions to public discussion of these issues.

This debate will be held in Ottawa, at a time and place to be determined after consultation with the participants. We’ll be announcing further details of the debate as we have them. If you’d like to be notified as news is released, please subscribe to the mesh blog, or give us your email address and we’ll contact you.

We think these are profoundly important issues, and hope you will help us get the word out by forwarding this link to anyone you know who might be interested. Please stay tuned for more news, and join us if you can!

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