I have been critical of the Parliamentary IP Caucus, so I should be equally quick to praise where appropriate. Tonight I was invited to appear before the caucus and given two full hours to make a presentation and participate in an engaging discussion on copyright. The meeting was well attended with members from all four parties in attendance.
My powerpoint slides are posted below (the first half of the talk covered the same ground as the Copyright Myths presentation I gave a couple of weeks ago). My key messages centred on putting copyright reform in context and getting the key content issues right. From context perspective, I highlighted:
- the need to recognize both the importance and limits of copyright
- the lack of recent consultation
- how Canadian copyright law is not nearly as weak as critics suggest
- why the WIPO Internet treaties provide great flexibility in implementation
- why focusing on copyright may undermine the efforts to address commercial counterfeiting
- how there are many voices expressing concern with a Canadian DMCA approach
I was also asked about my recommendations for reform. I provided nine points:
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The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has commenced the hearings on Canada's science and technology policy. There are a handful of submissions online including CIPPIC, Tracey Lauriault, Russell McOrmand, the BCLA, and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. My submission is posted below:
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I appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on Wednesday to discuss counterfeiting (following on my appearance last week before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security). My opening remarks are posted below – they focused primarily on the need to obtain more accurate data (I cited the inconsistent data associated with camcording) and to separate the counterfeiting issue from copyright reform (I argued that the inclusion of issues such as ratification of the WIPO Internet treaties is hampering progress on the serious counterfeiting problems).
Interestingly, just after the hearing I was alerted to a new U.S. study [PDF] from the Government Accountability Office on U.S. border enforcement activities against counterfeiting. The report is a must-read for people focused on this issue as it highlights two very important things. First, notwithstanding the claims that Canada must dramatically reform the powers afforded to our border services to address counterfeiting, the GAO study demonstrates that even countries like the U.S. are struggling with this issue as it points to a lack of data and coordination within the U.S.
Second, the data contained in the GAO report suggests that the claims associated with counterfeiting are massively overstated. The Industry Committee previously heard from witnesses who noted that there have claims that 5 to 7 percent of world trade involves counterfeit products (some even argue that is growing). The GAO study points to the U.S. Compliance Measure Program, a statistical sampling program, that randomly selects shipments to check for their compliance with the law, including IP laws. Of 287,000 inspected shipments from 2000 – 2005, IP violations were only found in 0.06 percent of shipments – less than one tenth of one percent. This large random sample suggests that counterfeit products are actually only found in a tiny percentage of shipments. Moreover, the GAO notes that despite increases in IP seizures, the value of those seizures in 2005 represented only 0.02 percent of the total value of imports of goods in product categories that are likely to involve IP protection. In other words, the evidence from an independent, U.S. government sponsored agency points to a far different reality from that presented to the two parliamentary committees investigating counterfeiting.
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The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has posted the transcript of my appearance before the committee on counterfeiting.
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Last month I posted a very critical entry on a Public Safety and National Security Committee hearing on counterfeiting featuring the Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, and the CRIA. I concluded by stating that "the MPs on the committee were there to be educated about the issue and received one perspective. The danger lies in only receiving a single perspective and then proceeding to deliver a report effectively crafted by the anti-counterfeiting lobby. If the committee is serious about advancing the policy – rather than the view of a select lobby – it will expand the hearings to include further perspectives that extend beyond simple soundbites that 'counterfeiting can kill.'"
To the great credit of the MPs on the committee, someone saw the posting and invited me to appear to discuss my perspective on counterfeiting. I appeared yesterday morning and I thought that the 90 minute session (which also included Paul Hoffert and Bob Sotiriadis) resulted in an engaging discussion. Several committee members acknowledged that I provided a different take on the issue, which enabled the debate to focus on the genuine health and safety risks as well as consideration of the effectiveness of current Canadian law.
The full transcript should be available next week but in the meantime my prepared remarks are posted below.
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