Earlier this week, I was invited to appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade to discuss the benefits of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement involving the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a handful of other Asian and South American countries. My comments were critical of the proposed agreement as I focused on two issues: copyright and secrecy. The opening comments sparked a lively debate, with the NDP MPs tabling documents I obtained under the Access to Information Act detailing inside access to TPP information for select stakeholders and the Conservative MPs alternately questioning the validity of leaked texts and providing assurances that draft text could change before the final agreement is concluded. I’ll post the transcript once it is available. In the meantime, my opening remarks are posted below.
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The Trouble with the Trans Pacific Partnership: My Appearance before the International Trade Committee
Copyright and Culture: My Submission to the Canadian Heritage Committee Study on Remuneration Models for Artists and Creative Industries
The Canadian Heritage committee study on remuneration models for artists and creative industries, which was launched to support the Industry committee’s copyright review, wrapped up earlier this month. I appeared before the committee in late November, where I focused on recent allegations regarding educational copying practices, reconciled the increased spending on licensing with claims of reduced revenues, and concluded by providing the committee with some recommendations for action. My formal submission to the committee has yet to be posted (the committee has been slow in posting submissions), but it expanded on that presentation by focusing first on the state of piracy in Canada, followed by an examination of three sectors: (i) educational copying; (ii) the music industry and the value gap; and (iii) film and television production in Canada. The full submission can be found here.
Earlier this week, I submitted my copyright review brief to the Industry Committee. The brief tracks my opening comments to the committee closely, focusing on the data arising from five issues: educational copying, site blocking, the so-called value gap, the impact of the copyright provisions of the CUSMA, and potential reforms in support of Canada’s innovation strategy. Due to a 2,000 word limit, the committee version will be a slightly condensed version of my original. I’ve posted both online (original version, submitted version).
The Canadian government tabled Bill C-100 yesterday, the bill to implement the Canada-US-Mexico Trade Agreement. I will have future post on the key provisions, which include new criminal provisions on trade secrets and tampering with rights management information. The bill also features several provisions related to copyright term but notably does not touch the current general copyright term of life of the author plus an additional 50 years. There are several new terms included in the bill with extensions for anonymous works, performances in sound recordings, sound recordings, and cinematographic works. The bill expressly states that none of the extensions are retroactive which means that the works that are currently in the public domain will remain there even after the new terms are established.
The Full “Culture Exception” That Isn’t: Why Canada Caved on Independent Cultural Policy in the USMCA
In the final weeks of the USMCA negotiations, Canada signalled that a full cultural exception was a non-negotiable issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wading in to emphasize the importance of the issue. While the resulting deal has garnered applause from many culture lobby groups (music, magazines, publishers, ACTRA), the reality is that the government did not obtain a full cultural exception. In fact, after criticizing the Conservatives for accepting exceptions to the cultural exception in the TPP (and making it a key issue in the CPTPP once the U.S. exited the agreement), the Liberal government similarly included two exceptions and agreed to an extension in the term of copyright that will have a far more damaging impact on access to Canadian culture than any proposed USMCA provision.