This week, the government was formally included in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations with the next formal round scheduled for New Zealand in early December. I’ve written extensively about the copyright implications of the TPP as leaked versions of the intellectual property chapter and demands from U.S. copyright lobby groups point to a significant re-write of Bill C-11. Areas targeted for reform in Canada include ISP liability, statutory damages, and extending the term of copyright.
An additional issue has begun to attract increasing attention as the same lobby groups seeking copyright reforms have also put dismantling Canadian content regulations on the table. The IIPA, the lead lobby group for the movie, music, and software industries, told the U.S. government:
IIPA strongly believes that the TPP market access chapters must be comprehensive in scope, strictly avoiding any sectoral carve outs that preclude the application of free trade disciplines. We note that several market access barriers cited by USTR in its 2012 National Trade Estimate report on Canada involve, for example, content quota requirements for television, radio, cable television, direct-to-home broadcast services, specialty television, and satellite radio services. It should be possible to address such barriers to trade in the TPP, and thus augment consumers’ access to diverse content, while promoting local cultural expressions.
Many concerned with Canadian culture have reacted with alarm as the U.S. government has focused on potential changes to television and radio content requirements, classification systems for movies, and online video.
The lobbying effort by the IIPA also raises the question of where the Canadian branches of those organizations stand since CRIA (or Music Canada) is closely aligned with the RIAA and the MPA-Canada solely represents the U.S. movie studios. CRIA has previously found itself on the opposite side of cultural groups on issues such as private copying and the merits of Bill C-11. With the parent associations now arguing for trade agreements that could target Canadian content requirements, do CRIA and MPA-Canada share the same views or are they now opposed to the policy position of the RIAA and MPAA? As David Farrell noted earlier this week, the issue has met with “stony silence from the music industry, musicians and other parties with vested interests in the topic.”