Last evening I posted an interview I did with Dan Grice, the Green Party of Canada candidate for the riding of Vancouver Quadra.
The Green Party will be taken more seriously this election because they have as many seats as the Reform party did prior to the 1993 election. Independent MP Blair Wilson has joined the Green Party, the MP for the riding with the longest name: West VancouverâSunshine CoastâSea to Sky Country.
Prior to the 1993 election the only sitting member of the Reform party was Deborah Grey, who won in a 1989 by-election. During this election the Reform party won 52 seats. We won’t get a chance to see if Mike Nagy wins the Guelph by-election if the general election is called this weekend.
The interview I did with Dan Grice was done through e-mail, similar to the interviews I did of other candidates. I actually just sent him a copy of questions nearly identical to what I authored for Vancouver Center NDP candidate Michael. Byers.
If you read the replies from Dan Grice, you will see he has a technology background which includes having been a software developer. A number of the messages had “Sent from my iPhone” included in the tagline for the messages. There are many areas where the two of us, as technical people who have authored software, will agree on.
There are some areas we disagree on. For instance, he said that “we also have to be realistic on the limitations of FLOSS software and its distribution model. Very few peer-to-peer or open source business models have shown to generate enough revenue to support complicated development structures.” He seemed to offer Adobe Photoshop as an example, which is no more complicated than GIMP and less complicated than other software projects. While it is true that more people are putting resources (their money) into Photoshop than GIMP, I think the fact that GIMP compares so favourably with orders of magnitude less resources proves that Peer Production methodologies work better for that example.
He also said, “I don’t take a strong stance on supporting or eliminating DRM”. Given that eliminating DRM is the issue that brought me into the digital copyright debate, I obviously have taken a strong stance. I’m not at all sure we are talking about the same thing given he was talking about locked down songs and saying that “the only real issue with DRM is device lock in and transferring your music assets from one platform to another”.
This thinking is familiar to me, which is the phenomena of thinking of DRM as being the digital locks applied to content. This is why I came up with my “I have 4 things in my hand” explanation of technological measures since most people are in the same boat as Dan as far as believing that DRM is about locked down content. (See: (Digital) Locks are multipurpose tools, and can be used or abused)
But lets get to the point here already! Yes, Dan and I have some areas where we disagree on. These are, however, at a level of detail that is far beyond where most politicians have knowledge enough to have an opinion.
Dan isn’t as convinced as I am that Free/Libre and Open Source Software can replace that tiny bit of software which is both publicly distributed (most software is in-house) and is royalty-bearing. When I am talking to most politicians I get a stunned look or a question “Did you just say you had open sores?”
A politician doesn’t have to care what method of production, distribution and funding of software may or may not dominate in a free market. All they have to do is be aware that there are alternatives, and ensure that government policy enables a full spectrum of choices. The Greens tend to be free-market capitalists, so will want to create a level playing field and let the market decide.
That is all I would ever ask for, and would oppose the government mandating a specific methodology. Governments have had a very bad track record of picking winners and losers in the marketplace.
Dan has opted to purchase a locked-down iPhone. He may even be one of those people who have jailbreaked his iPhone (The “iPhone in Canada” fan site has a category for unlocking), and I’m told many people have. It is unlikely that he realized that a focus of the opposition many of us have to legal protection for DRM is that its intent is to disallow owners of devices like iPhones from being able to remove foreign locks from what they own. Put in that context he may realize this isn’t about music (as much as Steve Jobs wants to suggest it is), and more about what device manufacturers and proprietary software vendors have been asking for.
These are all interesting details to continue to discuss with our members of parliament. I hope that Dan will be one of those I am able to sit down and talk with in that capacity – as a sitting member of parliament.
Russell McOrmond – p2pnet contributing editor
[McOrmond is an independent author (software and non-software) who uses modern business models and licensing (Free/Libre and Open Source Software, Creative Commons). He`s also the CLUE policy coordinator and p2pnet contributing editor.]
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