With only limited fanfare, earlier this month Industry Minister Christian Paradis introduced Bill C-56, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. Since no one supports counterfeit products – there are legitimate concerns associated with health and safety – measures designed to address the issue would presumably enjoy public and all-party support. Yet within days of its introduction, the bill was the target of attacks from both opposition parties and the public.
The NDP raised the issue during Question Period in the House of Commons, accusing the government of trying to implement the widely discredited Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) “through the backdoor.” The public also picked up on the issue, noting that the bill appears to be less about protecting Canadians and more about caving to U.S. pressure (the U.S. called on Canada to implement ACTA on the same day the bill was tabled).
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the concerns associated with the bill fall into two main categories: substance and ACTA implementation. The substantive concerns start with the decision to grant customs officials broad new powers without court oversight. Under the bill, customs officials are required to assess whether goods entering or exiting the country infringe any copyright or trademark rights.
Read more ›
Appeared in the Toronto Star on March 9, 2013 as What’s Really Behind Ottawa’s Anti-Counterfeiting Bill? With only limited fanfare, earlier this month Industry Minister Christian Paradis introduced Bill C-56, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. Since no one supports counterfeit products – there are legitimate concerns associated with health and […]
Read more ›
The government is characterizing its Bill C-56 as an anti-counterfeiting bill, yet this week NDP MP Charmaine Borg framed it more accurately as “ACTA through the backdoor.” During Question Period on Monday, Borg asked Industry Minister Christian Paradis directly if the bill paves the way for ratification of the discredited treaty:
Mr. Speaker, last July the European Parliament rejected the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement over serious concerns about the regressive changes it would impose on intellectual property in the digital age. Yet on Friday, the Conservatives introduced a bill in the House that would pave the way for the ACTA without question. Canadians have concerns about goods being seized or destroyed without any oversight by the courts. Will the minister now be clear with Canadians? Are the Conservatives planning to ratify ACTA, yes or no?
Paradis refused to respond to the ACTA ratification question:
Read more ›
The Canadian introduction of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement compliance legislation on Friday appears to have come in direct response to a new U.S.-led effort to revive the discredited treaty. When the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted to reject ACTA last July, many declared it dead. But is not dead yet: it is […]
Read more ›
The Canadian government today introduced a bill aimed at ensuring the Canada complies with the widely discredited Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Despite the European Union’s total rejection of ACTA along with assurances that ACTA provisions would not resurface in the Canada – EU Trade Agreement, the new bill is designed to ensure that Canada is positioned to ratify ACTA by addressing border measures provisions. The core elements of the bill include the increased criminalization of copyright and trademark law as well as the introduction of new powers for Canadian border guards to detain shipments and work actively with rights holders to seize and destroy goods without court oversight or involvement.
While the bill could have been worse – it includes an exception for individual travelers (so no iPod searching border guards), it does not include patents, and excludes in-transit shipments – the bill disturbingly suggests that Canada is gearing up to ratify ACTA since this bill addresses many of the remaining non-ACTA compliant aspects of Canadian law. Moreover, it becomes the latest example of caving to U.S. pressure on intellectual property, as the U.S. has pushed for these reforms for years, as evidenced by a 2007 Wikileaks cable in which the RCMP’s National Coordinator for Intellectual Property Crime leaked information on a bill to empower Canadian border guards (the ACTA negotiations were formally announced several months earlier). [Update: On the same day the Canadian government introduced Bill C-56, the U.S. Government issued its Trade Policy Agenda and Annual Report, which calls on Canada to “meet its Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) obligations by providing its customs officials with ex officio authority to stop the transit of counterfeit and pirated products through its territory”]
A full examination of Bill C-56 is forthcoming, but its introduction raises four immediate issues: that Canada is moving toward ACTA ratification, that it is pursuing policy based on debunked data on counterfeiting, that the bill could have serious harmful effects with border guards forced to serve as copyright experts without court oversight, and the increased criminalization of copyright and trademark law.
Read more ›