Archive for December, 2009

Ficsor Attacks: WIPO Treaty Architect Still Fighting Lost Policy Battle

CRIA lobbyist Barry Sookman's blog is home this week to a guest post from Mihály Ficsor, a well-known international copyright author who is the former Assistant Director General of WIPO.  Ficsor is closely associated with the creation of the WIPO Internet treaties and today works with the International Intellectual Property Alliance, the leading U.S. copyright lobby representing the RIAA, MPAA, BSA, and other groups.  Unlike Bruce Lehman, another leading creator of the WIPO Internet treaties who has acknowledged that they (along with the resulting DMCA) have been a policy failure, Ficsor remains determined to fight for his baby. 

The post is filled with remarkable vitriol toward those arguing for balanced copyright, with Ficsor warning of "free access revolutionaries" and against Canada becoming "an isolated hostage and victim of demagogue campaigns organized in the hatred-driven style of Maoist Guards as during that other brilliant 'cultural revolution.'"  Most reasonable readers will likely dismiss the post on that basis alone.  For those willing to look beyond it, however, the key question is whether the WIPO Internet treaties requires a prohibition on the distribution and manufacture of circumvention devices.  Ficsor argues that they do, stating:

The allegation that the two Treaties do not require protection against the manufacture and distribution of unauthorized circumvention devices is completely groundless. The negotiation history of the Treaties clearly indicates that, although their anti-circumvention provisions finally used a more general language, they had been based on proposals extending to the prohibition of such activities.

While it is true that the initial U.S. proposals (which led to the WIPO Committee proposed language) targeted circumvention devices, the negotiation history actually shows that there was not consensus support for this language. 

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December 22, 2009 41 comments News

EU Demands for Trade Deal Would Reshape Canadian IP Law

More than 20 years ago, Canada negotiated a free trade agreement with the United States that attracted enormous public attention.  The first FTA – to be followed a few years later by the North American Free Trade Agreement that brought Mexico into the mix – played a pivotal role in a national election and ultimately resulted in dramatic changes to the economy and Canadian law.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that earlier this year, Canada and the European Union announced plans to negotiate a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), possibly the biggest Canadian trade negotiations since NAFTA.  The first round of talks took place in Ottawa in October, yet the treaty has generated practically no public scrutiny. That may change following the leak last week of the European Union's proposed intellectual property chapter.

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December 21, 2009 18 comments Columns

EU Demands for Trade Deal Would Reshape Canadian IP Law

More than 20 years ago, Canada negotiated a free trade agreement with the United States that attracted enormous public attention.  The first FTA – to be followed a few years later by the North American Free Trade Agreement that brought Mexico into the mix – played a pivotal role in […]

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December 21, 2009 1 comment Columns Archive

WIPO Treaty for the Blind Gains Momentum, But Canada Missing in Action

The World Intellectual Property Organization is meeting this week with considerable momentum toward work on a Treaty for the Blind that would establish important copyright limitations and exceptions to ensure broader access for the sight disabled.  While the U.S. had emerged as a leader with a surprising shift in approach, […]

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December 18, 2009 2 comments Must Reads

The Netherlands Leads BitTorrent Rankings, But What Does That Really Mean?

TorrentFreak recently published the Top 25 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2009, which charts the most-trafficked public, English-language sites. A CRIA lobbyist wasted little time in claiming that the list shows that Canada is "the number one location for unauthorized BitTorrent sites." Notably, the list only includes English-language sites so the exclusion of Chinese, Russian, and other language sites means that global claims aren't possible based on the list.

Even within the limited English language world, the piece toyed with funny math, however, sometimes relying on hosting to determine location, other times using site registration and then combining the two metrics to inflate the Canadian position.  If hosting is indeed the correct metric, the Netherlands was actually ranked first, followed by Canada, Sweden, and the United States.  The full list:

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December 18, 2009 75 comments News