Regular readers of this blog will know that last night, a fundraiser for the MP in my riding, Sam Bulte, was held at the Drake Hotel, a boutique hotel that’s become one of the city’s more popular after-work and weekend hangouts. The fundraiser, billed as a celebration of artists and creators in honour of a friend to the creative community, was in fact more of a political strokefest between the Canadian Recording Industry Association and a politician who supported a bill that was very restrictive of user’s rights.
Ren Bucholz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation called together a counter-gathering at the same hotel, where those who opposed Big Content’s vision and Sam Bulte’s pandering could meet, get to know each other and talk. No recitations of manifestoes, no angry scribblings of blog entries or letters to the editors, but just folks with a common interest meeting over food and drink in one of my favourite cafes in town.
I had to get a photo of the sign in the lobby. It’s pretty poor (I didn’t want to call attention to myself while doing it), but as you can see, the event is a fundraiser, contrary to Ms. Bulte’s vehement denials:
A good number of people arrived early and the cafe was filled to capacity soon thereafter. We each took turns introducing ourselves and found that we were all sorts of different people, from techies like myself, Ian Goldberg and Kat Hanna (whom you may remember from their adventures with Dell Computer and click-wrap licencing), to musicians such as Neil Leyton and Mike Farrell of The Pariahs (a guy who predates me at Crazy Go Nuts University), photographers, writers, students and people who just classified themselves as “ordinary citizens”.
I have to commend The Drake for letting us gather there. Ren had communicated with them in advance to book some space in the Corner Cafe, and they could’ve easily said “no” for fear of offending the fundraiser folks, who’d be a far greater source of revenue than we. I also have to commend the Corner Cafe for making their own marshmallows for their hot chocolate — I’m going to be a return customer on that touch alone.
I got a chance to talk with Ren for a little bit, and he told me about the EFF’s presence in Canada. He’s the only EFF guy in this country, having started at the position about nine months ago. We talked about all sorts of things, from the blog-powered hubbub over Bulte to Copynight, a gathering that takes place on the fourth Tuesday of every month where people talk about restoring balance to copyright law. Ian and Kat also mentioned this and informed me that the next local gathering takes place next Tuesday night at 7 at The Madison, a place that I normally associate with drunken college reunions and think of as a safe training ground for bar pick-ups for people freshly out of school. It’s nice to see “The Maddy” broadening its client base!
It was also good to see Neil Leyton, whom I hadn’t had a chance to
catch up with since 2002, when he and I were musicians in Lindi’s live
band, with him on guitar and backup vocals and me on you-know-what.
Neil told me about how he used to stick a line on the copyright notices
for his albums where it would say something like “Hey, if you listened
to this album from start to finish non-stop with no bathroom breaks,
you are are entitled to copy and distribute it freely!” He then
discovered Creative Commons and found that their licenses said roughly
the same thing in a more official way, and now his record label, Fading
Ways Music, is a big user and supporter of Creative Commons licenses.
A funny note — the Drake had a contingent of security guards, sharply dressed in black suits with black turtlenecks, communicating with each other on walkie-talkie cellphones. One of them glared at me when I took the photo of the sign announcing the location of the fundraiser, but a hotel staffer who knew me told him “Oh, don’t worry, that’s the Accordion Guy. He’s cool.”
Later, as I left the cafe to use the bathroom, two of them blocked the door that led to the hallway leading to the fundraiser room.
“You using the bathroom?” one of them asked.
“Yup,” I replied.
“One from the cafe to use the bathroom,” said the other one into his walkie-talkie as I opened the bathroom door, shaking my head and smiling in amused disbelief.