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Canada Caves on Copyright in TPP: Commits to Longer Term, Urge ISPs to Block Content

The final Trans Pacific Partnership intellectual property chapter leaked this morning confirming what many had feared. While the Canadian government has focused on issues like dairy and the auto sector, it caved on key copyright issues in the agreement. As a result, works will be locked out of the public domain for decades at a cost to the public of hundreds of millions of dollars. Moreover, the government will “induce” Internet providers to engage in content blocking even where Canadian courts have not ruled on whether the content infringes copyright. As a result (and as expected – this was raised years ago), the government’s “made in Canada” approach to copyright – which it has frequently touted as representing a balanced approach – faces a U.S. demanded overhaul.  In fact, even as other countries were able to negotiate phase-in periods on copyright changes, the Canadian negotiators simply caved.

The biggest change is a requirement to extend the term of copyright from life of the author plus 50 years to life plus 70 years. The additional 20 years will keep works out of the public domain for decades. The New Zealand government estimates that this change alone will cost NZ$55 million per year for a country that is one-ninth the size of Canada. Moreover, New Zealand was able to negotiate a delayed implementation of the copyright term provision, with a shorter extension for the first 8 years. It also obtained a clear provision that does not make the change retroactive – anything in the public domain stays there. Malaysia also obtained a delay in the copyright term extension requirement.

Canada, on the other hand, simply caved.  The cost to Canadians will be enormous. If the New Zealand’s estimate is accurate, the cost to the public alone will easily exceed $100 million per year. Hundreds of well known Canadian authors and composers who died years ago will not have their work enter the public domain for decades.

The public domain provision is not the only loss for Canada on copyright. The Canadian government was able to preserve the notice-and-notice system for Internet providers, but at a very high price. Canada has now agreed to induce providers to “remove or disable” access to content upon becoming aware of a decision of a court of a copyright infringement. The broadly worded provision could force Canadian ISPs to block content on websites after being notified of a foreign court order – without first having to assess whether the site is even legal under Canadian law.

Canadian negotiators caved on a wide range of other issues. For example, it has increased the criminalization of copyright, adding new criminal liability for the removal of “rights management information” (rules associated with Canada’s controversial protection of digital locks) and it has expanded restrictions on the importation or distribution of goods whose rights management information has been altered. It has expanded border measures rules (just months after passing legislation on the issue), by agreeing to notification system on suspect in-transit shipments that will not even enter Canada.

There is much more to study, but the first reaction to the TPP intellectual property chapter is that Canadian negotiators have agreed to significant changes to Canadian copyright law without an opportunity for public comment or discussion. Given that there was a two-tier approach for the trade talks with insider access and that U.S. lobby groups identified the TPP as a mechanism to extend Canadian copyright term, the outcome is disappointing but not surprising. Unlike other countries that were able to negotiate delayed implementation, however, Canada simply caved to U.S. pressure, seemingly willing to trade away Canadian copyright policy.

55 Comments

  1. A bullet for every banker

    A noose for every politician

    • Well, as the song goes, “lets kill first the bankers / with their professional / demeanors”.

      Under these new extensions that should be public domain in a hundred or so years (it’s a Canadian song, after all).

    • verystrangely says:

      Why not start with Fearless Leader?

  2. lock and fucking load

  3. Fair copyright laws never went so far as to return all copyrights to the original authors. So the creators of content who had to sign a contract with the devil in order to get published are still screwed.

    While we are thinking of this sort of thing and to who will really benefit,
    has the movie Star Wars made a profit yet?

    • commonnsense says:

      Read this spew directly from the White House site regarding TPP. They even consider it “The President’s Trade Deal”.

      STOP THINKING OBAMA IS YOUR FRIEND. HE’S A NASTY CORPORATIST.

      ” But right now, our current trade policy — the status quo — puts our workers and businesses at a disadvantage, with higher costs for American goods, more barriers to trade, and lower standards for workers and the environment abroad than we have at home.
      That is why President Obama has concluded negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership and will now work with Congress to secure its passage into law. The TPP is a trade agreement with 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific, including Canada and Mexico that will eliminate over 18,000 taxes various countries put on Made-in-America products.
      With the TPP, we can rewrite the rules of trade to benefit America’s middle class. Because if we don’t, competitors who don’t share our values, like China, will step in to fill that void.
      That is why the President’s trade policy is the best tool we have to ensure that our workers, our businesses, and our values are shaping globalization and the 21st century economy, rather than getting left behind.”

    • Still waiting for Casablanca to recoup.

  4. Pingback: Canada Caved In TPP Talks, Agreed To Website Blocking, Copyright Extension: Geist | Canada Press

  5. Pingback: Puget Sound Radio | Canada Caves on Copyright in TPP: - Puget Sound Radio

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  9. Fuck the god damn conservative government, they are the ones that are trying to force this shit through right now as fast as possible cause they know they won’t get it in once they lose the election on the 19th. Canada really needs to put some kind of ban on passing new items near the end of your term to stop this railroading shit from happening. Also anything that is proposed to be passed should by law have to be made available to all people to review so that everyone can give their representatives feedback to get this shit shot down.

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  17. Serdar Argic says:

    First the Mountie brand is sold to Disney, now we get the Disney copyright law.

    Who downloads without a VPN anymore anyway? See you in the darknet. ..

    • One possible problem is that all member countries would block access to some sites once a court rules that it violates the mans lawz. Therefore your exit nodes or tunnel can’t be in one of those countries. Just make sure to get a VPN provider which has servers in a BRICS country (Russia is ideal, they don’t seem to give a shit) and you should be good. :)

    • The “biggest change” is not that we’re still having to pay for 50 year old content now, I mean, who really cares about 50 year old content? No, the biggest change is that ISPs would be required to block sites without a court order. In the dial-up days there were two pages of listings in the phone book for ISPs. In that competitive climate you’d never be able to get all of them to block all sites, and the ones that would blocked less would have won out over the ones that blocked more. But then we allowed “big content” partners to monopolize access to the net, and now we need their permission to connect with each other, and sites need their permission to connect with us.

      We must reverse this. And we must start by understanting that no amount of cersorship is possible, ever, period. You cannot have just “some free speech”, speech is either free, all of it, or it is not. We must not block any sites, ever, for any reason. And to say that you can have free speech, but you must be able to be held personally responsible for anything you say, is not free speech either. This is equally as naive and devastating as saying that we can all agree on having just “some censorship”. We must not sleepwalk into permitting blocking, ever!

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  19. What about works that are already in the Public Domain but would not have qualified under the new laws? Will they revert back to the copyright holder?

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  21. I’m confused. If the copyright of “works” enters the public domain, then the author gets nothing anyway. Right? So freeing it up in the public domain just opens it up to buyers who will , in the case of popular works, purchase the copyright and profit themselves. How does that deprive Canadians of money?

    • - as a customer, you will have to pay 10$ for an album instead of 5$,
      - as a company, you will have to pay 5$ to a foreign corporation,
      - and that’s only if the copyright holder does not keep this work out of print and stop canadian from enjoying it.

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  27. Basic employment inside the construction sector took a nosedive in the course of the recession, but hiring must choose up for plumbers.

  28. Daniel Menzies says:

    Canada hijacked the internet years ago. That’s why when you search for walmart.com on a Canadian ISP you get automatically redirected to walmart.ca It’s also why I, as a Canadian, couldn’t sell my music on Canadian itunes because I was going through an American distributor at the time

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  40. That’s what you get for electing harper. Cave in on every issue. Push a trade deal Canadians don’t want then lie about it.

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  45. Pingback: - Public Domain Day -Not a single published work is entering the public domain in the United States