Conference Board Ignored Independent Study Commissioned For Digital Economy Report

As the media coverage of the Conference Board's Digital Economy report continues (CBC, Mediacaster), a new revelation has emerged. The Conference Board of Canada's defence  included the following statement:

In the course of the research, the authors reviewed the full spectrum of arguments surrounding the issue of intellectual property rights in Canada. The final report includes those arguments considered most relevant to the policy under review.

A review of the report finds that the only arguments that the Conference Board seems to have adopted come directly from the International Intellectual Property Alliance, since it is their work (and words) that are recycled repeatedly in the report.  What the Conference Board does not mention in its defence (nor in the report) is that it actually commissioned a study on the copyright issues from an independent Canadian legal expert.  That report was completed by Professor Jeremy deBeer, a colleague at the University of Ottawa and frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail on copyright matters.

Professor deBeer has just revealed his involvement and posted a working paper based on his report submitted to the Conference Board of Canada. It turns out the deBeer was precluded from using the work for 12 months, a period that concluded today.  It is immediately apparent that the deBeer paper arrived at very different conclusions from the IIPA and the Conference Board.  In particular, it recommends:

IPRs can facilitate innovation if an appropriate balance is struck between sufficient protection and free competition. Canada's laws governing IPRs are recognized to be very good, but could be improved. With respect to copyright in the digital environment, three priority issues to deal with are implementing treaty provisions regarding TPMs, clarifying intermediaries' liabilities and obligations and enabling greater use of flexibilities and limitations.

Canada should follow the example set by Israel and adopt a 'wait-and-see' approach toward TPMs, in order to avoid entrenching a potentially inappropriate regulatory regime for technologies with an uncertain economic and cultural future, or a middle-ground model with circumvention prohibitions tied to infringement should be adopted. Intermediaries should be required to assist in online copyright enforcement under a 'notice-and-notice' system that requires them to inform customers of alleged infringements, and policy-makers shoudl closely follow and participate in discussions about self-regulation. Canada's statutory system for fair dealing should be amended to take account of technological, cultural and commercial realities and to create new opportunities for economic growth and innovation, while stakeholders simultaneously work together to design best practices online.

The entire deBeer paper is worth reading, but these conclusions are particularly noteworthy given that the Conference Board ignored them and instead adopted the conflicting recommendations supported by IIPA and the copyright lobby groups that funded their study.  Indeed, they made no reference to the deBeer study in their report, a curious decision given that the Conference Board claims to be "independent, objective, and non-partisan."


  1. Goal!
    Canadians: 1
    Evil: 0

  2. The questions are:
    1) Was the report biased due to the desirer to please the corporate interests that partially funded the study.
    2) Was the report biased due to pressure from goverment sources who partially funded the report (cause those goverment bastards are NEVER influenced by corporate interests)
    ( Does the govement fund the board in general?)
    3) Was the report biased due to personal reasons. Do the authors directly or indirectly profit some how?

    All three boil down to $$ in one form or another

  3. mon Dieu says:

    pop goes the brain cell
    This is getting mind blowing.

    Is there a type of corruption* and collusion* going on here at tax payer expense?

    (*or to use a CRTC term, “market Forces”) 😛

  4. There’s a strange disturbance in the force…
    … or is it “serendipity” that this study comes out from under protection today?

    The gods are smiling. Some of them are pointing and laughing!

  5. Interesting I was just reading Sanford Borins blog entry, dated May 8th entitled: Conflicting Narratives: Mulroney and Turner on Free Trade

    In it he talks of how John Turner “accused Mulroney of reversing a century of public policy with one signature of a pen, with the likely result that Canada would become an economic and political colony of the US.”

    And here we are a colony of the US, with our politicians trying to do what their American masters tell them.

  6. “e” is raising the free trade thing as though the patent issue has any relation to NAFTA. It doesn’t. That is why it has never been brought up under NAFTA in the last 20 years.

  7. TJeffersonFTW says:

    I’m still a little confused, who do I write to to complain to about this? This sort of corruption really bothers me, it is the thin end of the wedge that removes the public from government and it’s seriousness cannot be underestimated.

    My MPP?

  8. It’s too obvious what’s going on here
    This is all just posturing. Someone in the current government convinced the CBoC to produce a report that agrees with the US stance on copyright to pave the way for a re-introduction of Bill C-61 or its derivative. Michael, keep up the great work and help Canadians see clearly when the new law is introduced. As consumers we need to be ready to do a little posturing ourselves, armed with facts.