Canada and the European Union resume negotiations on a Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA) this week. The second round of talks comes as the EU's proposed chapter for the intellectual property provisions leaked last month, revealing demands for dramatic changes to Canadian intellectual property law. This would include copyright term extension (to life of the author plus 70 years), anti-circumvention rules, resale rights, and ISP liability provisions.
Now a second document has leaked, though it is not currently available online. The Wire Report reports that an EU document dated November 16, 2009, features candid comments about Canada and the EU strategy. The document, called a "Barrier Hymn Sheet" leaves little doubt about the EU's objective:
Put pressure on Canada so that they take IPR issues seriously and remedy the many shortcomings of their IPR protection and enforcement regime.
Having viewed the document, I can report that it goes downhill from there, promoting the key message that Canadian laws are inadequate, while liberally quoting a report from the Canadian IP Council and discredited counterfeiting data.
The document states that the trade negotiations are a "unique opportunity [for Canada] to upgrade its IPR regime despite local anti-IPR lobbying." It includes an assessment of recent copyright reform efforts, noting that two bills have died due to "political instability." The document adds that the copyright reform process was revived in 2009 with the national copyright consultation, but notes dismissively it may have been a "tactic to confuse."
It ultimately concludes:
our objective is to convince Canada to eliminate or reduce these shortcomings, by conducting the necessary legislative or other changes. However, optimism should be tempered since, despite pressure from the USA, high level commitments from Canada, and our commissioner's letter of April 2009, little concrete moves have been observed in recent years. We hope that the negotiation of the bilateral CETA will provide a good opportunity to exert pressure on Canada regarding the upgrade of its IPR regime
This document, combined with the leaked draft, provides ample evidence of the intent of the EU to use CETA to pressure Canada to fundamentally reshape our copyright and IP laws. Although the document discloses that IP was not discussed at the first round of negotiations in Ottawa last October, it is clear that it is a high priority future agenda item. Indeed, the Wire Report reports that IP is on the agenda for this week's negotiations. Although the Wire Report quotes a government official as saying that CETA will not override the copyright consultations, when combined with the ACTA talks that resume next week, the prospect of a made-in-Canada approach may be quickly slipping away.