Endorsement of petitions by Ubuntu Canada?

Russell McOrmond russell at flora.ca
Wed Dec 13 17:53:14 UTC 2006

Peter Whittaker wrote:
> We may need to be very careful on this: If an organization - whether
> formally constituted or not - endorses a petition, that is, asserts a
> position intended to sway the government, is that not on the slippery
> slope to lobbying?

   Ubuntu Canada is not signing the petition (Organizations can't sign 
petitions to parliament, only citizens and residents).  This would not 
be seen as lobbying which involves direct conversations with decision 
makers (IE: what I do on behalf of CLUE and the rest of the community). 
  The organization is just advertising to its members that these 
petitions exist, and that it would help protect Ubuntu as a viable 
option for people if Canadians signed the petitions.

   The petitions, especially the second one, are pretty fundamental to 
the existence of Ubuntu.   If people don't have the legally protected 
right to make their own choices about what software they run on the 
hardware they own, obviously they can't choose Ubuntu.

   There are charities where lobbying is something that is restricted to 
a certain percentage of their funding.  While I'm not a lawyer, I've 
been told that advertising and endorsing petitions is entirely outside 
of that restriction.

   CLUE, on the other hand, is doing lobbying work.  The people doing 
this work are not paid to do so it isn't yet even something we have to 
register for.   There is, however, no restrictions on CLUE as a 
non-profit (different than a charity) putting whatever money and other 
resources it wants into lobbying.

   I don't recommend Ubuntu Canada get involved in lobbying, but do hope 
that Ubuntu members will consider becoming members of CLUE to both fund 
and direct our lobbying efforts.

> lobbyists may undertake. IANAL, IANARL (reg. lobbyist), IAJSGWATRAMTOE
> (just some guy who applies threat and risk assessment methodologies to
> everything).

BTW: So am I  - I often annoy people who use the word protection which I 
always follow with "protect from what?".

   I wouldn't suggest Ubuntu Canada or any user groups endorse the 
petitions if it were possible that this could cause any risk to these 
groups.  It is risk-free to endorse the petitions, although I think 
there is a risk to the future of FLOSS user groups if they don't do what 
they can to encourage their members to sign the petitions and otherwise 
to engage in this process.

> What are the benefits to ubuntu-ca of doing this? and what are the
> impacts?

   Any group endorsing the petitions will be listed on the home page for 
each petition as an organization doing so.  This will help advertise the 
existence of Ubuntu Canada for people who may know about the copyright 
issue but didn't know about Ubuntu Canada.

> What are the benefits to the petition itself of ubuntu-ca doing this?

   Copyright is a complex issue.  It is obvious to me how Ubuntu and any 
other FLOSS project is harmed by legal protection for digital locks put 
on hardware to disallow owners from installing the software of their 
choice.  It is not so obvious to anyone else who still largely believe 
it is science-fiction and not something that governments are actually 
stupid enough to enact.

   Our choices of what music we listen to, what movies or television we 
watch, and what software we install on our own computers, should not be 
imposed by the government or in any way dependent on each other.

> I expect that people are going to think me excessively cautious for
> raising these questions, but I think one really does have to think
> twice**2 and debate thoroughly before engaging what could be considered
> lobbying.

   I don't think you are being excessively cautious at all, and I am 
glad that you have raised these questions so quickly.

> FYI, there is also
> http://www.onlinerights.ca/get_active/copyright_reform_action/
> I wrote my own version of that one, with slightly more emphasis on the
> evils of DRM, less emphasis on technology, and more on policy/justice.

   This is a letter writing campaign.   We are also hosting a letter 
writing campaign at http://www.digital-copyright.ca/letters

   These are important to send in as it lets MPs know that there are 
people in their riding that are concerned.   These people may be 
contacted by the MP in the future to further discuss the issue.

   The petition is helpful for educating all parliamentarians as a 
whole.  As I wrote earlier today, 2 of the 7 mentions of copyright in 
the House of Commons in the last year was from our petitions.  While 
this will obviously increase when a new copyright bill is tabled, it is 
important for us to realize how important these petitions are for 
alerting MPs of all stakeholders in this issue.


   I hope that anyone who receives a reply from any of the letter 
writing sites will let me know about it so that we can coordinate followups.

  Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
  Please help us tell the Canadian Parliament to protect our property
  rights as owners of Information Technology. Sign the petition!

  "The government, lobbied by legacy copyright holders and hardware
   manufacturers, can pry my camcorder, computer, home theatre, or
   portable media player from my cold dead hands!"

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