In Good Company

The International Intellectual Property Alliance – a group that brings together several U.S. lobby groups including the MPAA, RIAA, BSA, the ESA, and publisher groups, has just released its Section 301 recommendations, a submission to the U.S. Trade Representative that frequently serves as a blueprint for U.S. commentary on intellectual property protection around the world.  The list covers 60 countries, including most of the world's leading economies.  The USTR report, which will be released in April, will likely mirror the IIPA recommendations.

Canada figures prominently on this list and indeed this year it is expected that the U.S. will escalate the pressure by placing us on the Priority Watch List.  The Globe and Mail gives the lobby groups' recommendations front page coverage with dire warnings for Canada (the coverage is matched in other countries – see Taiwan and Thailand as examples).  The IIPA submission on Canada includes a litany of complaints, including the failure to implement the WIPO Internet Treaties, the need for ISPs to play a greater role in dealing with copyright infringement, the need for a camcorder law, and the need for greater enforcement activity.  The IIPA report is particularly critical of Bill C-60, arguing that Canada should "jettison" the approach in favour of something, well, like the U.S. has implemented.  In fact, it incorrectly argues that full compliance with the WIPO Internet treaties requires legislation that matches the DMCA (full TPM protection, ban on devices that can be used to circumvent, limited exceptions).  It also wants the scope of the private copying limited and clear liability for P2P services established.  In fact, it even attacks Bill C-60's tepid distance learning and library loan provisions, arguing that they "would have had a significant detrimental impact on publishers of scientific, technical, and medical materials."

While the IIPA recommendations have predictably led to negative, overblown press coverage in Canada, a little context is needed. The reality is that the majority of the world's biggest economies face similar criticism, including:

  • Japan is criticized for a wide range of issues including the absence of statutory damages, copyright term extension, stronger TPM protection, narrowing private use exceptions, and the establishment of camcording legislation
  • Sweden receives special mention for widespread Internet piracy and being host to
  • New Zealand is criticized for its copyright reform bill, which, much like Canada's Bill C-60, adopts a more balanced approach to TPMs.  For its effort, the government is also incorrectly told that the proposal "fall far short of meeting international minimum standards."  Moreover, the bill's time shifting provisions are criticized, despite the fact that the U.S. has far more liberal fair use provisions.
  • Switzerland is criticized for its TPM approach, which apparently does not meet the standard in the EUCD or the DMCA, along with a broad private copying provision and the need for camcording legislation.
  • South Africa is criticized for failing to sign the WIPO Internet treaties
  • Hong Kong is criticized for its approach on TPMs and for proposing new exceptions for educational purposes. It is also urged to extend the term of copyright.
  • South Korea is criticized for its TPM approach, education exceptions, its private copying system, and for failing to extend the term of copyright.
  • Israel is criticized for failing to implement TPM legislation and for considering a fair use provision that mirrors the U.S. approach (the IIPA claims this might be viewed by the public as a "free ticket to copy.")
  • Mexico is criticized for its TPM approach and for the absence of an ISP notice and takedown system
  • Italy is criticized for doubt about its TPM approach and for failing to establish an ISP notice and takedown system
  • Brazil is criticized for failing to ratify the WIPO Internet treaties and for granting exceptions to university students
  • Greece is criticized for making it difficult to obtain the personal identities of ISP subscribers and for levying a surcharge at movie theatres that are used to support Greek films
  • Spain is criticized for failing to place sufficient liability on ISPs for activity on their networks
  • India is criticized for its TPM provisions and "overly broad" exceptions

These are just fourteen examples – there are dozens more countries on the list, including many developing countries, each invariably criticized for not adopting the DMCA, not extending the term of copyright, not throwing enough people in jail, or creating too many exceptions to support education and other societal goals.  In fact, the majority of the world's population finds itself on the list, with 23 of the world's 30 most populous countries targeted for criticism (the exceptions are Germany, Ethiopia, Iran, France, the UK, Congo, and Myanmar).

The U.S. approach is quite clearly one of "do what I say, not what I do" (fair use is good for the U.S., but no one else), advising country after country that it does not meet international TPM standards (perhaps it is the U.S. that is not meeting emerging international standards), and criticizing national attempts to improve education or culture through exceptions or funding programs.  Moreover, it is very clear that the U.S. lobby groups are never satisfied as even those countries that have ratified the WIPO treaties or entered into detailed free trade agreements with the U.S. that include IP provisions still find themselves criticized for not doing enough. 

Canadians should not be deceived into thinking that our laws are failing to meet an international standard, no matter what U.S. lobby groups or the Globe and Mail say.  Rather, Canadians should know that our approach – and the criticism that it inevitably brings from the U.S. – places us in very good company.


  1. Dr
    Canadians must get abandon our poodle of the American right, Harper, before Canada too turns into a police state or a British style surveillance society. As a Canadian, I don’t remember ever having voted to choose the monopolies of the US to oversee Canadian business interests. Since when have Canadians felt obliged to bow to unjust American laws ans “wishes”…? I suggest that all those who are in accord with the US government on just about anything at all move to the US. A democracy does not need fascists.

  2. Switzerland
    Well, if US tries do bomb my country, Switzerland, I don’t worry: [ link ]

  3. Or how about if our government tells those IIPA imbeciles that when the Americans stop violating WTO rulings regarding OUR exports, then we will *consider* their request. Or better yet, how about we slap huge duties on every American movie or music CD coming into the country, like they did with our softwood? After all, we have our own artists to protect, right? I think you’re right, Michael – we are in good company, and the US needs to wake up and realise that they are the ones in the minority regarding a lot of trade issues like this one. I can understand why they’re scared though, since entertainment is the US’s only real export – we’d be pretty pissed off if they figured out how to photocopy lumber!

  4. Grant Goodyear says:

    Just for the record, there are people in the US who are trying to fix these bits of insanity.

  5. Work faster.

  6. Insane
    Those RIAA, MPAA, ESA guys are totally insane. I’m living in Holland and my ISP almost terminated my connection because the ESA sent some warning. What are they doing in Holland? I was downloading music and movies, but that is actually LEGAL here (that’s fun). It seems to be the same story all over the world. The USA is everywhere.

    We also have a lot of Anti-Piracy here, but only 2 organisations. They are actually lying about the law, because they tell downloading music and movies is illegal but it isn’t. We also have huge taxes on CDs and DVDs.

  7. Anonymous
    They Basicaly criticize every relevant country in the word. This is the proof that the 4 majors are controlled by extremists neocon and they think that the entire world is their enemies.

    Hopefully, like the nazi, they will end up killing each other and it will be a good ridance provided that if the boycott does not get ride of them first.

    (Sale of CD is in free fall and \”\”\”legal\”\”\” music download is stalling.)

  8. Just Some Guy says:

    Help a Southerner out?
    Anybody want to sponsor me for citizenship in Canada so I can come up there and help you guys fight to keep the common-sense copyright laws in place? I try my best to right the ship down here in the CSA (Corporate States of America) but nobody in a position to do anything about it wants to listen.

  9. Mrs
    It occured to me that these so-called reports
    have an air of authority about them. Maybe
    an organisation such as the EFF or FFII could
    write reports from the other side. Maybe
    under a title such as:

    “Countries with a legislative framework
    condusive to easy information disemmination,
    distribution and reuse — winners placed
    to benefit from the internet age”

    … and then praise the countries which
    are currently berated …

  10. It isn’t “pirating”. Canadians pay a Levy on blank media, which means we split some of the loot with Ottawa just like in the good old days when we were at war with the US. Back then, we differentiated between pirates, and upstanding, law-abiding, levy paying “privateers”.

  11. Israeli Citizen says:

    take a look at this “serious problem” from the 2003 report on Israel:
    “Moreover, there is a serious problem involving the
    photocopying and reproduction of textbooks by various educational institutions, from elementary
    schools to universities. These activities are carried out privately by students and by teaching
    staff in various institutions, who produce study files that include reproduced material.”

    Using books to teach kids? UNTHINKABLE!
    only American students should be allowed to do that!

  12. `ban on micro`chips
    “ban on devices that can be used to circumvent“
    because the DMCA is such a well-written law it should migrate up here, eh 😉

    I`m really tired of this corporate policy that we can`t modify anything we`ve bought, be it in the form of toothless DRM backed up by a wide-sweeping law like the DMCA, or hardware like an Xbox or Gamecube or Tivo (in the US at least, no Tivos up here). They sell us these devices and we`re not allowed to act like we actually bought them by modding them with homebrew or Linux or whatever or for backups. Obnoxious and thankfully not the law here, yet, although they are certainly trying, there`s no doubt about that.

  13. What a crowd
    The countries on their list: Japan, Sweden, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Africa, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Greece, Spain, and India, are some of the most progressive and advanced nations with great culture, people and food. I am proud to be in their company. Come to Winnipeg in August at see these nations at Folklorama. Americans are also invited.

  14. Friki/Inciclopedia
    The collaborators of the Spanish-language Uncyclopedia could tell you all about Spain’s domestic version of these organizations, the SGAE. They had the first incarnation of the site closed down in a fit of pique.

  15. Chilean citizen says:

    Even though my country is far away from almost any place on earth, I’m glad that we’re on that list and that we are right next to Canada. I do support anti-piracy laws, but not stupid laws and I’m glad that my congress never passed any stupid regulation to match any of the DMCA provissions. I’m glad that I’m allowed to develop things, to repair my own things and to open and disassemble every little device that I buy with my own money without having to think about any possible consequences, except those derived of my inability to assemble back the pieces 🙂
    That being said, cheers to the free world, despite that the country that claims to be the “Land of free” is actually very much not free

  16. Strange. I thought Canadians already pay a levy (unfair) on CD-Rs etc, so they get to copy stuff if they want?

    If those groups want more, they’re just being excessively greedy.

  17. BCDD and music lover says:

    We don’t need wipo to tell us how to run or make our copyright laws.

    It should be Canadians for Canadians not laws made by outside pressures from other countries with you should do what we want.

  18. Russel McOrmond says:

    Media monitoring, sending letters/petiti
    ITBusiness linked to this story.

    [ link ]

    Canadians wanting to DO Something about this issue should go to and follow the activities listed in the top-right column (Sign petitions, write letter to your member of parliament).


  19. Rethink Copyright Laws
    If US “IP” industry would like us to change our copyright “regime” perhaps we should also rethink the copyright terms at the same time.

    Is it possible that 50 year terms after the death of the creator of the work is merely another measure to control channels of distribution by preventing the competition of old works with those of new works? As well as protecting the older works that are “cash cows”?

    I have heard there is a desire by the industry to extend them to 90 years (and probably beyond) and I fear we will see more petitions from dead artists to extend the terms that are already way too long. They got us to swallow 50 year terms why not 70, 90 or 150.

    Doesn’t seem fair to let all that great old content languish away in obscurity.

    It is getting harder for the middlemen to lock-up control of distribution and they are desperately trying to retain it.

    The methods of distribution are more open than ever and instead of participating in it and winning through open competition they want to rig the system in their favour.

  20. national autonomy
    isn’t this bordering on attempted violation of national autonomy? by a business cartel even. I hope most people can go beyond the technological implications and simply fight this for that reason. The demonstration that took place in Sweden after the Pirate Bay was illegally taken down were not supporting ‘piracy’ but the ability of a country to govern itself based on the will of its citizens and not anyone else.

  21. Don\’t assume fair use applies to DMCA circumvention cases in the US. Courts
    have not applied it as you might imagine: it is still circumvention if the
    use would have been legal under fair use. In other words you still have your
    fair use rights, but often you aren\’t able to use them without breaking the

    And of course in the case of trafficking in circumvention devices, fair use
    doesn\’t come into play because there may have been no access of a copyrighted
    work anyway — just distribution of code, a device, or instructions which
    could be used for such access. There\’s no way to allow one type of access
    without the other, at least that I can think of.

  22. non-common citizen says:

    If all those *AAs want to prevent copyright infringement of their works, they should consider not advertising any of their content in our Country — much like our prohibition of advertising tobacco … no wait … cigarettes are advertised within most films of the MPAA that even kids are allowed to see. Well then, we should sue them trillions of dollars for their heinous disregard of our laws, since they are so sue-happy anyway. Since the above shows they have no ethics whatsoever yet hypocritically want to impose self-serving ethics(i.e. oppression) on us, we should lobby government to ban all *AAs advertising of content in our country — with a high degree of scrutinization I might add, since these international organized crime organizations circumvent our tobacco laws let alone a bunch of others.

  23. Is there any criticism of the rest of the world for not yet adopting 115V electrical service and NTSC as a video standard?

  24. As a member of the swedish Pirate Party (Piratpartiet) I am quite astonished to see how the US and their corporate agenda excels in turning large parts of the world against them. The US president is the laughing stock of the entire world but to have a man like that dictate how the world should be turning is not such a laughing matter.

    Citizens of the US get their news from the utterly biased media (read: Fox) and think that the entire world is supporting the “war on terror” for instance. The effects of “the war on terror” in Sweden (where the last act of terrorism occurred some 30 years ago) is that the political establishment is promoting a law which enables the military surveillance of the state to keep track on the entire communication traffic of e-mail, phones , mobiles, faxes, SMS:es that crosses the border. Considering how the Internet is a global system of communications and is used for all sorts of communication that law pretty much goes beyond what Stasi in former East-Germany wanted to realise.

    With politicians plugging along laws like that who really needs terrorists? After all diminishing the openness and virtues of a true democracy is what terrorism is about right?

    And to debate what the MAFIAA (MPAA and the rest of the crooks) is trying to achieve here would take too long but most recently (yesterday) it came to public attention that the MPAA together with FBI had been educating Swedish police in fighting copyright infringement and piracy. Of course that goes in line with the former US interference with the Swedish justice system being dictated the importance of acting along the wishes of the MPAA/RIAA regarding the shutdown of The Pirate Bay…or else! The former notion that Sweden was a sovereign and neutral country becomes more and more a relic of the past.

    Anyway, to relate to the terrific blog post Sweden indeed are in good company! 🙂

  25. QQ¸öÐÔÇ©Ãû says:

    good article!

  26. It’s so true… what’s a American organization doing, calling itself international, and thinking it can tell the rest of us what to do? They’re nuts.

    And TPB is not gonna get shut down… unless the Americans manage to pervert justice, again. I really hope the pirate party in Sweden continues to grow.

    Maybe Canada needs a Pirate Party as well?

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