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No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal: Why Canada Won the TPP By Standing Up for Balanced IP, Culture, and the Auto Sector

The end-game in trade negotiations always generates more than its fair share of drama and last week’s effort to re-work the Trans Pacific Partnership without the United States was no different. Canada was squarely in the spotlight with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a no-show at a ministerial meeting that was attributed to a scheduling error, but had the hallmarks of gamesmanship designed to demonstrate a willingness to walk away from the deal.

I posted over the weekend on some of the key IP provisions that have been suspended and published an op-ed in the Globe and Mail that argues that the result was a major win for Canada as the government leveraged its position as the second largest economy left in the TPP to extract significant concessions on intellectual property, culture, and the auto sector. Indeed, despite pressure to cave on key demands from the Japanese and Australian governments, Canada stood its ground and is helping to craft a trade deal that better reflects a balanced approach on challenging policy issues.

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November 13, 2017 0 comments Columns
Reject-TPP1 by Leadnow Canada (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/HHY8j7

Rethinking IP in the TPP: Canadian Government Plays Key Role in Suspending Unbalanced Patent and Copyright Rules

Years of disappointment in trade negotiations have left many Canadian intellectual property watchers hoping for the best, but expecting the worst when it comes to the IP provisions in trade deals. In earlier talks, Canadian negotiators would often advocate balanced positions during the negotiations, but ultimately cave to (primarily) U.S. pressures during the final round of talks. Given that history, this week’s outcome of the TPP11 is reason for celebration as the second largest economy in the TPP finally acted like it. The Liberal government demonstrated genuine leadership in demanding significant changes to the flawed TPP intellectual property chapter and refusing to back down under intense pressure from some of the negotiating parties. The result isn’t perfect, but the newly named Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which still requires considerable negotiation, features a significantly improved IP chapter that suspends some of the most problematic provisions.

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November 11, 2017 13 comments News
Glenn Gould, CBC, Toronto by Chris Beckett (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/LoHFA1

Global Music Lobby Groups Hit Ottawa in Blitz Over Copyright Term Extension

Global groups such as the International Confederation of Music Publishers and the U.S. National Music Publishers Association came to Ottawa this week to lobby the government to extend the term of copyright beyond the Berne Convention standard of life of the author plus an additional 50 years. The lobbying effort kicked off with a Hill Times piece, followed by an evening wine and dine event with politicians, a panel from the supposedly progressive Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, and then yet more lobbying with Canadian music lobby groups. The lobbying campaign comes on the heels of the controversial 2015 copyright extension of sound recordings, which some groups used to sow confusion about the term of protection for sound recordings (from 50 to 70 years) with the term of protection for the composition or written work (frequently longer at life plus 50 years).

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November 8, 2017 1 comment News
National Sales Tax by Steve White https://flic.kr/p/7TRPK1 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Quebec Digital Sales Tax Bill Demonstrates the Complications That Come With Implementing a “Netflix Tax”

The public policy battle over a digital sales tax to cover services such as Netflix continues in Canada with the introduction last week of a Quebec private members bill that would require the collection and remission of provincial sales tax by “persons with a significant online presence.” I’ve already written extensively about the longstanding policy work on digital sales taxes, the misleading claims about a level playing field, and how Canadian subscribers can pay the sales tax on Netflix today if they so choose. While there is an inevitably about digital sales taxes – it will come once global standards are sorted out – some still want the tax now without much regard for the challenges of implementation.

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November 6, 2017 2 comments News
Maryland State House by Danny Huizinga (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/onmk19

Canadian Heritage Minister Joly Hints Many Cultural Groups Don’t Comply With Lobbyist Reporting Rules

Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday, facing questions from MPs on a range of digital culture issues. In light of reports this week on lobbying efforts by Internet companies, Joly was asked about meetings with companies such as Google. Joly defended her interactions by noting that the meetings included discussions on Canadian content and emphasizing that she has had hundreds of meetings with cultural groups. That isn’t particularly surprising, but what should raise concerns was her suggestion that the groups rarely register the meetings in the lobbyist registry as required by law.

Joly told the committee:

the reality is that it’s very rare that the cultural sector registers with lobbyists. I’ve had many more contacts with the cultural sector. I’ve had tens, hundreds of meetings with them throughout the country, in French or in English…I’ve had many more meetings with them than the platforms.

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November 3, 2017 3 comments News