June 14, 2005  ·  Lessig

Michael Geist is a professor at University of Ottowa. He’s certainly one the most prolific and effective advocates for all things good. Among the million things he does is write a weekly column for the Toronto Star. That writing, along with his other work, has angered those with whom he disagrees.

Of course, I know well what it’s like to be, let’s say, not liked. But I’ve been astonished by the means deployed by our friends in the North for dealing with people they don’t like. So too have I been amazed at the rhetoric. Check out Michael’s post, Groundhog Day to get a flavor. I guess this is as good a measure as any of effectiveness. Bravo, Michael.

  • Peter

    Interesting read…

    FYI, “Ottowa” is spelled Ottawa.

  • Scott

    Michael Geist is one of the most thoughtful and intelligent thinkers that I have encountered in the fields of privacy and intellectual property. I was lucky enough to take a class with him as a law student at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, and had the rare opportunity to work with him on some minor events a few years back. Reading the suggestion that he has an “ongoing vendetta against the record industry” made me spit milk out of my nose – and I wasn’t even drinking milk at the time. The fact that someone as even-handed as Geist is being targeted, speaks volumes about Henderson’s position.

  • http://www.simonpole.ca Simon Pole

    I’d have to agree with Scott. The distasteful language used against Prof. Geist, which included referring to him as an “attack dog”, is something you don’t usually hear in Canadian public life.

    Prof. Geist holds one of the most prestigious academic positions in Canada — a Canada Research Chair. These positions, funded by the national government, are given to people widely recognized as the top in their field.

    People in Canada believe public figures like this are open to criticism in a professional way, but not in a personal way. The CRIA has stepped over that line, and I believe hurt their cause in the current debate on copyright reform.

  • http://www.tekstadventure.nl/branko/blog/ Branko Collin

    Is Michael Heist the only voice of sanity in Canada at the moment? It would seem to me that Canada has a unique opportunity to become a haven for expression and creativity if the people can manage to save the parliament from listening to the culture thieves.

    One would hope that other Canadian stakeholders would tell their side of the story to parliament too. Any word on whether that’s happening?

  • http://www.digital-copyright.ca/petition Chris Brand

    We’ve collected over 1500 signatures on the “Petition for Users’ Rights under Copyright”, with over 700 tabled in Parliament so far. Not bad when you consider that somebody with experience in these matters said that they’d be surprised if we got the necessary minimum 25 signatures.

    There’s also good work being done at CIPPIC.

    MPs are aware that this isn’t something they can just sneak through. The NDP (one of the four major parties) broke ranks with the other three parties about the necessity to give the music industry what they want.

    It’s a long, uphill, struggle, but we are making progress. I believe that the Bill that we’re soon going to see will be a lot better than it would have been without these efforts – still bad, but not terrble.

    Now if only the US would stop pressuring Canada to follow its lead. That would make a huge difference.

  • http://www.downes.ca Stephen Downes

    Michael Geist is well regarded and widely read by those of us in Canada working toward open media. He is by no means alone.

    What is unusual, however, is that he has a forum in a major newspaper. There is not a lot of support in the traditional press for open content and open access. That’s why you haven’t heard a lot (but what you should know is that Canada is a hotbed of open content and open source activity).

    The attack by CRIA is, as another commentator noted, an unusual breach of what we would consider normal decorum and not very representative of how the debate has been aired in this country.

  • Ann Bartow

    Michael Geist is one of the smartest, hardest working legal academics it is my pleasure to know. He will not be cowed, I don’t worry about that at all, but it is very nice to see him honored like this.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    If Canada is a such a different country, maybe I should emigrate! :-)

    Maybe my standards are too low, but I wasn’t “amazed at the rhetoric”. Not that it was *nice* – but they didn’t even compare him to the Boston Strangler. Much less call him a criminal, or submit pages and pages of character assassination as part of official proceedings (which is how I’ve seen civil-libertarian programmers treated in the US, self included).

    Wow. Don’t get me wrong. I think Michael Geist is a great guy too.

    But it’s culture shock to me when it’s considered noteworthy when the opposition does some mildly nasty name-calling.

  • http://www.tekstadventure.nl/branko/blog/ Branko Collin

    Chris, Stephen, thanks for the info, and good luck with the good fight.

  • Tim Wu

    And they didn’t even call him an attack dog, they said he had an “attack dog mentality.” But for Canadians can be heavy stuff. Next thing, they’ll call him “Mr. Canoe-head.”

    In the United States, meanwhile, I find that in general that if someone takes the cream before you at starbucks you can call them an “attack dog” and that’s about par for the course.

  • http://www.simonpole.ca Simon Pole

    “Canoe-head” is actually a compliment, at least according to the Canadian Association of Phrenologists (CAP).