The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a U.S.-based copyright lobby group representing the music, movie, and software lobbies, has released its annual list of demands for copyright reforms in dozens of countries around the world. Once again, Canada is in good company. The IIPA targets 51 countries including leading European countries (Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Greece, Hungary), Asian countries (Japan, South Korea), New Zealand, Israel, and a host of countries in South America and Africa.
On the Canadian front, the IIPA notes that Canada implemented anti-camcording legislation, but it wants more. Much more. Demands include WIPO implementation, clarification of privacy copying, tougher measures on ISPs, and more IP enforcement. The group makes it clear that it wants Canada to move well beyond WIPO implementation by instead following the DMCA model, arguing that Canada "should jettison the approach taken by Bill C-60" which took advantage of the flexibility found in the WIPO treaties. The IIPA report will no doubt play a key role in this year's USTR Special 301 report, which will again claim that Canada lags behind on copyright issues.
Yet the reality is that there are many areas where Canadian law is more restrictive than that found in the U.S. Moreover, Canadian officials have rightly dismissed the USTR Special 301 process as little more than a lobbying exercise. In fact, the IIPA laments comments from a senior Canadian Foreign Affairs official who last year rightly told a Parliamentary committee that:
In regard to the watch list, Canada does not recognize the 301 watch list process. It basically lacks reliable and objective analysis. It's driven entirely by U.S. industry. We have repeatedly raised this issue of the lack of objective analysis in the 301 watch list process with our U.S. counterparts. I also recognize that the U.S. industry likes to compare anyone they have a problem with, concerning their IPR regime, to China and the other big violators, but we're not on the same scale. This is not the same thing. If you aren't on the watch list in some way, shape, or form, you may not be of importance. Most countries with significant commercial dealings are on the watch list.
While it is great to see that Canadian officials have a realistic perspective on these lobbying efforts, it remains to be seen whether Industry Minister Jim Prentice will simply cave to U.S. pressure by ignoring the advice of Canadian officials in giving the IIPA exactly what it demands.