In the United States, town hall meetings are all the rage, with the emphasis on rage.[rssbreak]
The battle for health care reform - specifically, the adoption of a more universal model - has been met at town halls by crazy fireballs showing up to fear-monger about socialism and Nazi death panels.
A town hall meeting on copyright reform in Toronto tonight (Thursday, August 27) will hopefully produce the same reactions.
Not that the two issues have the same weight - health care is far more consequential - but there's plenty of cause to hope for an angry mob on the Conservative government's attempt to modernize copyright law.
In the U.S., the town-hallers spend most of their time on another planet, and their Nazi fears come across as completely unfounded.
But here, anxiety over the copyright issue is reality-based: the government has tried and failed several times to put an unfair, unbalanced, unjust piece of legislation through the Commons.
C-61 was described as a more oppressive version of the U.S.'s Digital Millennium Copyright Act, an oppressive enough law that errs on the side of copyright holders - always. No arguments, no exceptions.
But as everyone knows, there are always exceptions. Thousands of them - in free speech, education, archiving, sharing, personal use and so on. (If a video of a party is posted with a copyrighted song playing in the background, what harm does it do the rights holder? None at all!)
None of the Canadian versions of the proposed law have known the meaning of the word "exception" either.
C-61 allowed digital locks on your devices (iPod, laptop, Windows Vista PC), anti-piracy software that would automatically take away your ability to record a TV show for later, share a song or use copyrighted material of any kind - a built-in, no-nonsense, no-exceptions robocop reaching into your life whenever it wants.
Copyright, essentially, is not a black-and-white arrangement. The next draft of the reform needs to be flexible.
Thursday's town hall is a step in the right direction, allowing experts and stakeholders to speak on the issue. But it will only work if the public makes enough noise to be heard.