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U.S. Congressional Hearing Blames Canada, Again

Howard Berman, the U.S. Congressman who is sometimes called the "representative from Hollywood", was at it again today, leading hearings at the Foreign Affairs Committee on Global IP Theft that quickly became yet another case of "Blame Canada."  As implausible at seems, there is a regular sport in the U.S. of claiming that Canada is the source of evil when it comes to IP laws. 

At today's hearing, Berman demanded that Canada implement the WIPO Internet treaties, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees inaccurately claimed that " Canadian movie theaters account for nearly 50 percent of all camcorded sources worldwide" and urged Canada to pass legislation similar to the DMCA (Disney Chair Richard Cook noted that the anti-camcording law has reduced Canadian camcording), and Universal Music Group President Zach Horowitz claimed that Canada has the highest level of online piracy in the world, that we are a haven for unauthorized music sites, and that "there is no recourse against online theft."  After this misleading and inaccurate testimony, Horowitz then urged the Congessional panel to ask Canadian officials "to explain their reputation as a nation unfriendly to the policies at the heart of copyright and the realities of the borderless digital marketplace."

The Congressional panel need not wait until they meet with Canadian officials.  If Canada suffers from this reputation (and I do not believe that it does), the reason is because people like Horowitz do their utmost to unfairly malign Canadian law.  The reality is:

  • that there are many areas where Canadian copyright law is stronger than the U.S.
  • that we are not a haven for unauthorized music sites (indeed, the U.S. industry has far more lawsuits against U.S. sites and services than can be found in Canada)
  • that Canadian law can be used against online infringement, including the potential use of statutory damages
  • that according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canada's contribution to piracy seizures is so low that it does not even merit a mention
  • that the U.S. industry now appears to emulating Canada's notice-and-notice system

I could go on.  Yet despite this reality, these nonsensical claims led Congressional representatives to consider whether they should violate international copyright law by denying protection to Canadian works or by having the U.S. government retailiate against Canada.  If there is a lesson here, it is that no matter what Canada does – tax breaks for U.S. studios, anti-camcording legislation, participation in ACTA, etc. – it will never be enough.  All the more reason to ignore the noise, rise above the pressure, and legislate in our national interest.

14 Comments

  1. Brendon J. Wilson says:

    Will the US guarantee access in exchange for these additional protections?
    Hmm, I wonder if any of the representatives from the US have considered that the lack of access to many of the entertainment technologies might be contributing to Canada’s (fictitiously inflated) need to pirate IP? After all, iTunes launched in Canada over a year after it launched in the US, ditto the iPhone; Hulu remains inaccessible in Canada (unless you use a proxy), and there are any number of other services that simply aren’t available here.

    So, I’ll tell them what – if they launch services simultaneously in Canada, with the same pricing and options, then we can talk. ;-)

  2. Balanced legislation needed
    If they want us to implement WIPO, perhaps they should start lobbying the government to introduce the kind of copyright legislation that would have a hope of being passed. These proposals that radically shift the copyright balance aren’t going to go anywhere. Definitely not in this era of minority governments, anyway.

  3. Canada should sue these morons for slander
    Because they have been repeatedly slandering Canada at the international level, Canada should sue these morons (or their representatives here) for slander, using lawsuit-friendly libel laws here in Canada.

  4. “Universal Music Group President Zach Horowitz claimed that Canada has the highest level of online piracy in the world, that we are a haven for unauthorized music sites, and that ‘there is no recourse against online theft.’”

    Um…What unauthorized music sites? It is not illegal to download music for free here. We pay a levy (which would be his “recourse”) to compensate for downloads.

    I wish the US would stay out of our policy making. This is our country, not theirs.

  5. Is using pirated copies of Windows an IP infringement?
    It always amazes me when I travel in the beautiful province of Quebec to meet people who use pirated copies of Windows. All these little basement dealers of Asian made PCs have no trouble installing these pirated versions for a few Canadian dollars and they don’t see any wrong doing in that. Yet, they are stealing property. IP is not just music or videos, it’s all things digital and analog that pertain to the mind work of individuals and translates into something useful for society.

    Canada is not alone is stealing IP and maybe we are wrong in picking on you, but you are so close, it’s too tempting. Sue us, and don’t forget to learn more about Islam here http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

  6. Can Canada, as an entity, sue these guys for libel? Or do they have something like a parliamentary procedure exemption?

  7. Heh…
    Don’t let the facts stand in the way of greed for control and money. People will kill thousands for profit (see Bush Administration) let alone lie about some facts about some country. Nothing will change till governments stop being run by lobbyist. I see Canadian DCMA in the future. One thing Harper excels at is bending over.

  8. Harper misses G20 group photo, allegedly ‘in the loo’
    http://twitpic.com/2z1z6/full

  9. We Canadians are evil
    First, we let the 911 terrorists in (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A38816-2005Apr8.html) then we steal all of their movies and music. Lets go for their oil and water next. Wait. That is what they want from us. My bad.

    I wish that there was a minimum IQ level for American politicians.

  10. Only Fair says:

    Customs search
    Next time Bergman or Horowitz comes to Canada, Canada Customs ought to do a rectal search on each of them to ensure they aren’t carrying contraband.

  11. “Pathetic”…can you congressmen and company pricks explain to that more clearly?

  12. US Has NO MORALE Authority in the World Anymore… So STFU
    “Biggest wake-up calls of my career was when I saw a record contract. I said, ‘Wait – you sell it for $18.98 and I make 80 cents? And I have to pay you back the money you lent me to make it and then you own it?” – Trent Reznor, NIN

    I am amazed at how much effort the RIAA/MPAA lobbyists continue to pour into their “everyone is a pirate and the world is going to end” campaigns instead of working with ALL parties, consumers included, to reach a real and permanent solution.

    Clearly something has to be done to deal with the ongoing piracy problem. But making any type of use personal or otherwise difficult or illegal is NOT solving the problem.

    I have NO problem paying a reasonable amount of money to PURCHASE a movie, book or song. I REFUSE to buy into this licencing bullshit! Hardcopy, on disc or downloaded… they’re mine, lock, stock and barrel.

    Get with the program and STOP trying to shift your greedy copyright burden onto the taxpayers. Fight your own copyright battles like the law says you are suppose to and STOP WHINING!

  13. I just read the other day that the US refused to pay back monies owed for the lumber tariff.
    Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
    AND GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT!

  14. Its unfortunate that the yankee machine, always thinks its way is always correct. How they got to be this way is anyones guess, but I’m guessing it has a lot to do with marketing. I find it amusing when they start pointing their fingers at us, when we have the levy in place for that exact reason and they have nothing in place other than an OBSCENE amount of lawsuits and litigation pending, how does that make anyone rich other than the lawyers? As of for slander, I was thinking the exact same thing when I was reading that, ‘how can this man get away with just making blanket statements of that nature?’ He’s basically spreading hate speech of a different kind, which in THEIR country could even constitute as a TERRORIST act, given their infamous ‘patriot act’ or ‘homeland security’ or whatever they want to call their stormtroopers these days. It’s an unfortunate day when all this just goes by the wayside and theres no responsibility taken for their words.