Post Tagged with: "Culture"

The Trans Pacific Partnership and the Fight Over a Cultural Exception

This week’s leak of country-by-country positions on a Trans Pacific Partnership included a notable reference to the inclusion of a cultural exception. Canada stands with a slight majority in seeking a cultural exception that would presumably exclude the cultural industries (broadcast, audio-visual, music, books, etc.) from the ambit of key TPP provisions such as foreign investment restrictions or other legislated forms of cultural protections.  Other supporters of a cultural exception include Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Opponents include the U.S., Peru, Mexico, Singapore, and Japan.

The emergence of the cultural exception issue is interesting because U.S. lobby groups were specifically concerned with the prospect that Canada would pursue an exception if admitted into the TPP negotiations.  For example, the IIPA (which represents the major music, movie, and software lobby groups) stated the following in January 2012 with respect to the possible admission of Canada into the TPP:

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December 10, 2013 2 comments News

Canada Wants Telecom, Culture Off the Table in CETA

Canada’s offer to the Europeans in the Canada-EU Trade Agreement negotiations on several key areas leaked yesterday. The documents reveal that Canada wants both telecom foreign ownership and cultural protections kept out the agreement.

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January 26, 2012 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

Canada’s Grassroots National Digital Library Takes Shape

Last week, the European Commission released The New Renaissance, an expert report on efforts to digitize Europe’s cultural heritage.  My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that Europe has been particularly aggressive about its digitization efforts, developing Europeana, an online portal currently featuring more than 15 million works of art, books, music, and film, as well as the European Library, which provides access to 24 million pages of full-text scanned by 14 national libraries.

Several European countries have set very ambitious digitization goals.  The National Library of the Netherlands has committed to digitizing everything – all Dutch books, newspapers and periodicals dating back to 1470.  The National Library of Norway set a similar goal in 2005, setting in motion plans to digitize its entire collection that now includes 170,000 books, 250,000 newspapers, 610,000 hours of radio broadcasts, 200,000 hours of television and 500,000 photographs.

Building on those efforts, the report recommended that public domain works be digitized with public funding and be made freely available for access and re-use.  It also called on lawmakers to develop policies to facilitate the digitization of works still subject to copyright protection.

Canada could have attempted something similar years ago by committing to its own national digital library. Library and Archives Canada was given responsibility for the issue but was unable to muster the necessary support for a comprehensive plan.  Last year, it published a final report on its national digital information strategy, noting that it “brings to a close LAC’s role as facilitator of the consultations.”

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January 19, 2011 2 comments Columns

Bookseller Restrictions About Competition, Not Culture

Eight years ago, the federal government faced a hot-button cultural policy issue as online retail giant Amazon.com, which was already selling millions of dollars of books to Canadians from its U.S.-based site, sought entry into the Canadian market.  Canadian investment regulations posed a significant barrier, however, since the law required government approval for foreign investment in the book publishing and distribution sectors.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that Amazon was ultimately granted a form of non-entry entry.  The company established Amazon.ca, but did not set up shop in Canada.  Instead, it outsourced distribution to Canada Post, enabling the government to rule that the company’s plans fell outside the book distribution restrictions.

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March 17, 2010 34 comments Columns

Debating Amazon and Canadian Culture Laws

Yesterday I appeared on CBC Radio’s Q to debate the issue of Amazon and its plan to establish a distribution centre in Canada.  This podcast is no longer available online.

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March 17, 2010 Comments are Disabled Must Reads, News Interviews, Tv / Radio