Earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins stepped up the pressure on Canada on copyright. The speech that launched a round of media coverage has now been posted by the U.S. Embassy. The relevant passage is:
We are asking the Government of Canada to strengthen your copyright laws. There is a lot of pirating that goes on, a lot of counterfeiting of movies and songs and whatnot. And it is not some effort to protect some high-paid Hollywood star or studio, it is about ensuring that Canadian and American innovators and entrepreneurs are encouraged and protected so they will continue to make North America competitive in the world marketplace.
And we are working with the Canadian government now on that issue. We have met with Ministers Bernier and Oda and members of the Prime Minister's staff and we are requesting a stronger copyright bill be introduced and be passed. We are joined by the U.S. and Canadian motion picture and sound recording and computer software industries. Right now the copyright laws or the intellectual property right protection in Canada is considered the weakest of the G-7 countries. So we are asking that be strengthened. And it really does cost the Canadian economy a huge amount every year. It is estimated to be from some $10 to $30 billion per year.
Leaving aside the rhetoric, what is particularly remarkable about these comments is the claim that Canadian copyright law is costing the economy between $10 to $30 billion per year. Obviously any estimate that varies by up to $20 billion is not particularly credible. Further, even the low end figure looks ridiculous as it is four times the losses claimed by the MPAA in China and is more than three times the total amount of cultural goods that Canada imports from the U.S. every year. Or considered another way, the $10 billion figure is more than the Finance Minister committed yesterday to new health care initiatives, the environment, education, and special services for armed forces veterans combined. And that is the low end – the $30 billion figure represents nearly 13 percent of total government revenues and nearly equals the total amount of provincial transfers and subsidies. All of this from "a lot of counterfeiting of movies and songs and whatnot?"