DFAIT Launches Consultation on Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Months after Australia consulted their citizens about even participating in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and weeks after the U.S. consulted their citizens on the same treaty, the Canadian government has finally decided to ask Canadians what they think.  Better late than never – the ACTA is publicly pitched as formalization of international standards on counterfeiting, yet privately viewed as a behind closed doors attempt to ratchet up copyright laws.  Indeed, according to a document I recently obtained under the Access to Information Act, Canadian Heritage officials referred to it as a Trade Agreement on Copyright Infringement.

It is difficult to provide meaningful feedback on a treaty that no one has publicly seen, but with some lobby groups hoping to use the treaty to increase ISP liability, force cross-border disclosure of ISP subscriber information, and further advance the cause of anti-circumvention legislation, there is reason for concern.  For that reason, it is essential that Canadians take a few minutes to respond to the consultation, even if only to express concern about the lack of transparency and to urge the Canadian government to open the process to civil society groups and the broader public.  The government recently committed to greater openness with international treaty ratification and consistent with that approach, Canadians should be permitted greater access to the negotiation process.

On a substantive level, Canadians might ask for some evidence that we need another treaty on this issue. We already have agreements through WIPO, WTO, Berne, etc. – what added value will come from this treaty that is not already addressed through the current treaty framework?  Indeed, given that Canada is still grappling with the WIPO Internet treaties it seems premature to negotiate yet another treaty cover much of the same subject matter.

Canadians might also:

  • raise privacy concerns, noting the need to ensure that the ACTA is not used to override current privacy law protections. 
  • note the danger in altering the intermediary liability balance by shifting greater responsibility to online intermediaries in a manner that could stifle creativity and innovation. 
  • note that in the zeal to increase criminal penalties, it should open the door lowering statutory minimums as the Israeli government recently did in its copyright reform package. 
  • stress that any new penalties or enforcement measures should preserve all due process rights.  As discussed at the recent Fordham IP conference, Canadian judicial measures are unfairly painted as ineffective.
  • ask why developing countries are excluded from the negotiation process when those countries have much at stake on these issues.
  • emphasize that any piracy or counterfeiting measures should exclusively target large-scale commercial operations and not cases of non-commercial infringement.
  • argue that consistent with the RCMP approach, the treaty must prioritize health and safety concerns.

DFAIT offers more details on the consultation here and a very brief fact sheet here.  The response deadline is April 30, 2008 and every submission (including emails) helps.


  1. For who do do what
    Dr. Geist hit the nail on the head when he said: “Canadians might ask for some evidence that we need another treaty on this issue.” The more laws we get the more different interpretations and loopholes there will be for unscrupulous people, organizations, and governments. The Foreign Affairs Canada news release looks simple enough, but how are these ideas to be interpretet? It sounds OK on the surface, but just look at this innocent little paragraph:

    “Counterfeiting and piracy pose an ever-increasing threat to the growth of the knowledge economy.” Could mean: Students taking notes in class threaten the school’s right to make money from selling official notes.

    “These illicit activities are also associated with organized crime,…” Could mean: Unofficial FaceBook groups formed to discuss class material.

    “… and can pose serious health and safety risks to consumers.” Could mean: Going to jail or having your food budget dessimated by legal fees is bad for your health.

    OK, that last one is maybe over the top. Call me paranoid, but these things have all been in the news lately. I just don’t trust any government any more. When “they” want a new law or treaty I always ask myself: “For who to do what”?

  2. heres my thoughts says:

    heres my thoughts
    OK, we get less rights under conservative/republicans.
    We are less safe under conservative/republicans.
    We are less well off under conservative/republicans.
    Corporations are MUCH better off under conservative/republicans.

    what damn well makes anyone think they’d actually let us know what they have planned for real.

    we need to gut the political parties we have and start electing indpendants that will stand up for a free and democratic Canada.

    One where the members of each riding try to help there people in that riding and when common issues like this come up they will vote the way we desire.

    As long as politcal parties are allowed we are bent to corporate facist rule.

    The usa moves to more of a police state Unless they so called democrats change that, and i don’t buy it.

    perhaps a new law might make them shudder.
    if in your riding less then 50% vote then you cannot have a seat there and a bielection for a year.
    that would get the lead out.
    27% in that one riding tells you that we the youth are sick of govts that are supported by corporations are giving corporations more rights then ME.

    And has the deep packet inspection by BELL of TekSavvy been authorized by TSI users? was it by TSI?
    so which hacker law has BELL broken. and if none we need to start a ptention to have that law remvoed and reworded NOW, time to end the mpaa/riaa dominance of canada for ever.
    Legalize p2p with a simple 5-7$ fee
    i gave the solutions to those not wanting to pay that.
    warner brothers is now endorsing it, the canuck musicans endorse it, business in canada likes idea.

    and its simple use for non profit
    else pay HUGE fine and goto jail.
    Me thought we already had that law aka the montreal lad by name of maven that went ot jail for selling pirated crap.

    as too bandwidth of isps
    xvids are commonly 700 meg
    i can make an identical copy at 350 meg thereby reducing network needs by 50%
    a dvdr at 4gb can be brought down to 550meg
    EMBRACE H264/x264
    get people out there making them.
    this idiacy wastes too much oxygen.

  3. As far as intermediaries are concerend
    Increasing the liability for intermediaries is an interesting concern. Whose laws should apply in a case like this? A Canadian sends something to a Canadian that gets routed through the US. In Canada, it is legal. In the US, it is illegal. So, in the US, the ISP would be within their rights, and probably in fact it would be their duty, to not allow the transfer, even though it is a legal transfer in the country of origin and destination. Reminds me of the issues surrounding copyright in general, in particular the fact that different countries have different amounts of time until the work becomes in the public domain.

  4. So, in October minister announced that “Canada would participate in preliminary discussions”, and they open consultation just 3 weeks before closing? This government got a habit of slipping everything that they feel will not fly with population through the back door.

  5. Isn’t there a difference between consultation, and making decisions? Government isn’t a show of hands on every issue. Elect them, let them get on with the job, and vote them out if you don’t like the results. There does come a point in any democracy when libertarian armpit-scratching isn’t realistic. The overwhelming majority of Canadians do not want to get involved in the negotiation process, and those that do aren’t representative of the majority.

  6. Outlaw lobbying then. Why my interests should be less important than of any of big corporations?

  7. Anonymous says:

    You can vote; corporations can\’t.

  8. about corproate PWER says:

    corporations dont need ot vote
    corporations dont need to vote, they just give cash to politician A) to push there agenda,
    making lobbying by corporations illegal would be in the interests of the entire world.

    I think if a said sector were having problems it owuld be evident and we could remedy or help one when it really needs it, instead of pushing there agenda for ever higher profits while the people continue to suffer around the world, yah htink all that cash they spend into africa is about helping people? nope its mroe like setting up a new market so they can:
    have more cheap labour , and more people to sell goods to and keep this cycle going whats commonly known is that eventually this style and system runs out of exploitable persons and say in 50 years when everyones wages are simular then the system collpases.
    read up on true capitalism and true communism why neither works in there true forms.
    remember the word “copyright” means someone aka the people are giving the owner of said material or thing a right and i see certain sectors as abusing there given rights. Why should we the people in a democracy allow back door talks on what could affect me.

    as to the route through a land where said traffic is illegal, remember that warner brothers is now getting involved in a SAC like proposal to bring legalized downloading of there movies, like isaid.
    5$ for movies is reasonable and think world wide and warner did just that and that it would bring htem 20billion, more then enough fo rme and everyone to enjoy movies at a really technically cheap price, now i counter that warner make available some of that cash to mandate increasing network capacity and continue to fight traffic shaping and get your canuck equivilent up here to kick bell in the nuts for “the govt of canada told us that all p2p apps are illegal and tus you would be actionable” that was 2 days after the minister had once again withdrawn the so called CDMCA copyright bill.

  9. Corporations do not need to vote since they have power and money which count more than votes in an age where any politician is corrupt. If you think that voting is making any difference you are just delusional. Politic is the same since the roman empire. It is time to change an obsolete system.

  10. Re: corporations dont need ot vote
    Regarding your second point. $5 for Warner. $5 for SAC (who writes some of the music that Warner sells). And so on. So now we are up to $10 per month to check email.

    Of course, the $5 for Warner is so that they won’t lay charges against you. If you want to buy directly from them then they would charge you for the download. Of course, as the sales online go up, then the theater and record store associations will want levies to cover lost revenues… I realize I am taking it to an extreme…

  11. Is anyone here seriously suggesting that it’s OK to download movies without copyright clearance?

  12. Voodoomaniac says:

    My opinions on culture
    @a guest: I buy games trough steam. The games industry have taken measures to distribute games over the internet in a favourable, convenient way (Read STEAM.COM), which draws me towards it. And it’s great! Also, the games industry isn’t as noisy as the recording dadidada of america.

    I have everything ever released on records trough Spotify (so I don’t need to download music).

    The recording industry (what industry? Recording? Recorders? Like tapes? Or Vinyl?) is crying and crying for the revenue they once had when they had monopoly over ther CD sales. It seems like they are playing the same old vinyl with lots of dust and scratches on it. That’s why I don’t support artists that openly supports RIAA’s view on things. By using spotify though, I support the industry, sort of. But I don’t like it, not at this time. I don’t want to fund an industry that sues ordinary people.

    Movies, on the other hand is quite another issue. Why are there not a steam or spotify-like service for movies?? Internet’s been around for a while!! Without lack of such services, piracy is an alternative, yes. Not all people have bluerays, not even DVD-players anymore. The internet revolution demands change in the industry! Its not enough to try to close the internet. You may say, is it possible to compete with FREE? Well.. look to spotify! I have never spent as much on music as I am now! Never!

    To support a change in the industry, I have donated loads of $ to the TV-series project. Have you too?