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    Does Canada's Anti-Spam Law Really Stop Small Business From Using Email Marketing? No.

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    Thursday January 31, 2013
    The criticism against Canada's anti-spam legislation extends beyond absurd claims about restrictions involving family and personal relationships. Indeed, much of the discussion has focused on the impact of the law on small and medium sized businesses. Barry Sookman catalogs a wide range of supposed concerns, most of which appear to envision a world in which the only way for a new business to develop a customer base is to obtain marketing lists and send unsolicited commercial emails to potential customers.

    It is true that the starting point of the law is that businesses must have consent before sending commercial emails. Canada is moving to an opt-in world that gives consumers greater control over their in-boxes and will ultimately provide businesses with higher quality lists of people who genuinely want to receive their messages. Notwithstanding the default requirement for opt-in consent, however, the law contains numerous exceptions that are available to businesses of all sizes and which allow small and medium sized businesses to engage in active (and likely more effective) email campaigns. The exceptions include:


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    Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Challenges National Chamber IP Approach

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    Thursday July 24, 2008
    As Copyright Watch recently chronicled, local Chambers of Commerce have been singing from the same songbook as Industry Minister Jim Prentice in letters to the editor on Bill C-61.  This is consistent with the national Chamber, which earlier this year formed a new lobby group to push for copyright reform and issued a press release supporting the introduction of the copyright bill - complete with local quotes - within 90 minutes of the tabling of the bill.

    Notwithstanding these lobbying efforts, a crack in the coalition has emerged.  At least one chamber of commerce has decided that it wants to look at the bill with an eye to the impact on small and medium sized businesses. The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce had adopted a resolution that it is hoping to get the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce to adopt seeking studies on the impact that IP legislation would have on SMEs. The concern is that SMEs would bear the burden of enforcement directed at businesses. The Hamilton chamber argues:
    • The estimates of piracy used in support of the Canadian and Ontario policies are unsupported by verifiable Canadian data;
    • Most small businesses are not aware of IP issues and would likely be at a disadvantage if action were ever taken against them on any alleged IP infringement;
    • Small businesses would have a disproportionate increase in expenses in complying with the costs that the policies would create;
    • In Canada, many large owners of IP have ‘over-reached’ the protection that IP has given them to the detriment of small businesses;
    • The proposed change in laws does nothing to favour Canadian businesses;
    • Many IP users are funded by tax dollars (i.e. education, libraries, archives) and an increase in enforcement is likely to increase their costs, which will, in turn, lead to higher taxes which disproportionately affects small business.

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    Copyright and Canada's Small and Medium Sized Businesses

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    Friday October 26, 2007
    David Akin points to a recent Strategic Counsel survey (full report, executive summary) conducted on intellectual property awareness within Canada's SME community.  The findings suggest that intellectual property issues rank well down on the priority list for most Canadian businesses.  Most know little about IP and profess limited concern about the current framework.  Indeed, 78% of respondents do not have significant concerns over intellectual property violation or infringement.

    What does that say about the government's decision to prioritize copyright reform? 

    First, there will be no payoff from the broader Canadian business community, who is not particularly concerned with the issue.  Second, it highlights just how much this issue is being driven by a small group of lobbyists (led by the U.S. government) who have urged the government to move forward with reform.  If that is right, the political wager comes down to believing that Canadian business won't care about copyright reform and that Canada will garner political capital with the United States for taking action.  Yet that strategy neglects to consider the risks associated with how reforms will resonate with sectors such as education and with individual Canadians.  Those groups - along with the NDP and perhaps the Liberals - may be less impressed with an obvious piece of special interest legislation that does little to address the concerns of individual Canadians and the SMEs that power the Canadian economy.

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