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    Challenging Counterfeit Counterfeiting Data

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    Wednesday January 04, 2012
    Julian Sanchez has an excellent post at the CATO website debunking claims in the U.S. on the financial impact of counterfeiting and piracy, which is being used to promote the dangerous Stop Online Piracy Act. The post focuses on the fake $250 billion per year claim that is frequently invoked by copyright lobby groups, noting that the number is not based on an actual study but rather a 1991 sidebar in Forbes that took a guess at the global market. In 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office examined the counterfeiting data claims and found that they could not be substantiated and last year the Social Sciences Research Council released a massive study on counterfeiting and piracy that thoroughly debunked the claims.

    Given the return of fake counterfeit data, it is worth remembering that the same ploy has been used in Canada for many years. In 2007, I took a closer look at RCMP claims of $30 billion in losses in Canada, a number that was based on a single bullet point in a powerpoint presentation from an industry association that was a guess based on 3 to 4 percent of Canada's two-way trade. The RCMP has since distanced itself from those claims, but the Canadian Chamber of Commerce revived the fake figure last year in its lobby effort for new IP-related border measures (its response to being called out involved pointing to more unsubstantied data). As Sanchez notes:

    The movie and music recording industry have gotten away with using statistics that don’t stand up to the most minimal scrutiny, over and over, for years, to hoodwink both Congress and the general public. Wherever you come down on any particular piece of legislation, this is not how policy should get made in a democracy, and it’s high time they were shamed into cutting it out.
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    Dutch Parliament Refuses ACTA Secrecy

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    Thursday November 24, 2011
    The Dutch Parliament has set the standard for how countries should address the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It is refusing to even consider the agreement until all ACTA negotiation texts are published.

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    Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Group Calls For Graduated Response, More Restrictive Digital Lock Rules

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    Tuesday November 22, 2011
    The Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network is back in the news today with a refreshed version of its 2007 report that recommended new border measure powers, legal reforms, and a massive increase of public tax dollars for enforcement and education programs. Many of those same recommendations are back with claims that the government should pour millions into anti-counterfeiting activities, increase criminal penalties, expand seizure powers, and ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. 

    On the Bill C-11 front, the CACN wants to gut many of the balancing provisions, including limiting the scope of the already overly restrictive digital lock exceptions, dropping the ISP notice-and-notice approach in favour of a graduated response that could lead to terminating Internet service for individual users, and removing the distinction between commercial and non-commercial infringement for statutory damages despite the fact that Canada is one of the few countries to have such damage provisions (which would pave the way for more Hurt Locker style lawsuits against individuals). 


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    Canada Signs ACTA: What Comes Next

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    Monday October 03, 2011
    Canada became an initial signatory to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement over the weekend in Japan. Other countries to sign the agreement include Australia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and the United States.  That leaves out the majority of countries that were part of the negotiations as all the European Union countries, Switzerland, and Mexico attended the ceremony but did not sign. Canada's decision to sign is not surprising given its participation throughout the negotiation process and the flexibility that was built into the agreement. While there are many concerns with ACTA (both procedural and substantive), it is not the agreement the U.S. envisioned when it started the process several years ago.

    The signing of the agreement does not mean the agreement is enforceable yet. ACTA stipulates that it takes effect when six countries have deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance, or approval. In other words, most countries must still ratify the agreement (much like the WIPO Internet treaties, signing indicates general approval of an agreement but being bound by the terms requires ratification). 


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