CRIA's Graham Henderson was back in the spotlight yesterday with a speech delivered on behalf of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network at the Economic Club of Toronto understatedly titled "Canada Awash in Piracy" An Action Plan to Secure Our Prosperity". The speech, which has yet to be posted online (then again, CRIA has not posted a release or a speech since last September), followed the usual CRIA formula:
- law firm sponsors to help fill the room (McCarthy Tetrault)
- a questionable Pollara study (this one focused on Canadians' appetite for counterfeit goods)
- cracks at law professors ("we don't have a [piracy party] here yet but there are rumours that some law professors are putting one together")
- an astonishingly critical portrayal of Canada and Canadian policy makers (Canada has "a poorly developed marketplace framework for intellectual property rights", low Canadian attendance at a WIPO counterfeiting conference was "a grievous oversight and it sends a disturbing message", etc.)
There are several issues worth noting about the speech. First, I don't know many people who are in favour of commercial counterfeiting. If the allegations regarding organized crime involvement and health and safety issues (counterfeit pharmaceuticals, batteries, toys) are even partially true, Canada should have a legal system to address these concerns. Henderson suggested several reforms (trademark reform, customs powers) that would likely prove relatively uncontroversial in that regard.
The problem with this latest campaign is that it massively overstates the problem and seeks to conflate commercial counterfeiting with other activities that are not nearly as problematic.