Clement on ACTA: Check Out To Learn More

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement made it to the floor of the House of Commons yesterday as NDP MP Charlie Angus raised concerns about the agreement, the lack of transparency, and questions about whether the recent copyright consultation was little more than theatre given the prospect that ACTA will decide what Canadian copyright law ultimately looks like. 

Industry Minister Tony Clement responded by arguing that the ACTA is not law in Canada, stating that it is "subservient" to domestic law. While that is true for the moment, once it is completed the pressure to implement – much like the WIPO Internet treaties – will be enormous.  Clement also stated that people interested in the treaty could check out my website to learn more.  While I appreciate the shout-out, it should be obvious to everyone that this website is not a replacement for full and frank disclosure on ACTA and the Canadian government's position on the treaty.  A full Hansard transcript of the exchange, along with the YouTube version, follows below:

And the transcript:

Angus: Mr. Speaker, the European Union has leaked details of the secret ACTA negotiations in Korea and guess what? It has exposed the industry minister's so-called public consultations on copyright as a total sham, because ACTA will deep six Canada's ability to establish copyright policy. Further, it will strip thousands of citizens from the right to even use the Internet under the idiotic “three strikes and you are out“ policy. The government has no right to negotiate away our domestic copyright laws. Will the minister table in the House the mandate letter that was given to the negotiators to start the ACTA talks?

Clement: Mr. Speaker, despite the hon. member's fear-mongering, the Government of Canada has not adhered to or agreed to anything in the ACTA negotiations. The ACTA negotiations are in fact subservient to any legislation that is put forward in the House. In good faith, I and my colleague, the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, talked to the people of Canada, talked to stakeholders about a future copyright bill. We are proud of the fact that we have had that consultation because we got some good ideas, even from some NDPers.

Angus: Mr. Speaker, the ACTA provisions read like a wish list for the U.S. corporate lobby because it will override any flexibility for WIPO, it will gut our domestic copyright policies and it will criminalize thousands of Internet users through the three strikes provision. Canada needs a minister who is willing to stand up for the innovation agenda, not a minister who is acting like a hand puppet for the U.S. embassy. Why will the minister not table the ACTA negotiations so we can open it to public scrutiny?

Clement: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member wants to read more about it, he could go to Michael Geist's website. The fact is that anything that goes on in ACTA is completely subservient to what we as parliamentarians decide on this issue. We have gone further in terms of ensuring the public is aware of the issues involved in copyright renewal and reform than any other government and we are proud of that record.


  1. I get the impression that Tony Clement does not understand ACTA
    Based on 2 of Mr. Clement remarks in reference to ACTA about “copyright consultation” I am of the strong opinion that he is significantly misinformed or confused.

    If I understand the issue only a little bit, although our national copyright law and this international trade agreement have a relationship, but they are completely separate in every aspect. ACTA – a “counterfeit and trade” agreement that very basically says ‘we agree not to allow trade in illegal merchandise or commerce with other countries. Our copyright laws are designed to protect intellectual property and, er, copyright by defining ownership and use. From all I have read it appears that ACTA is guilty of what is often referred to as ‘scope creep’ and, more importantly, Mr. Clement does not seem to know it.

    The world of music copyright is evolving. Monopolies of collecting societies are under pressure. Songwriters complain about a lack of benefit, music users about non-transparent and high tariffs. Collecting societies are old-fashioned. Now is the time for online DIY copyright management.

    VillaMusicRights is a website in English, Spanish and Dutch, and plays a role as a facilitator in the contacts between songwriters and users of their music. This means you can upload your music and arrange your rights. The music will be stored in a database and users can download it.
    Downloads for home users are free, but business users have to pay a modest amount of money. Both songwriters and users have to register. Songwriters have to declare to own the rights to the music and users have to declare that they won’t use the music for other purposes than agreed.
    VillaMusicRights takes care of payments between songwriters and business users and receives a commission in remuneration of the cost of display, advice and transactions.

    A lot of music genres already are represented in the database, from rock to reggae and from blues to easy listening.


  3. Inappropriate Suggestion
    Since when is it appropriate for Canadians to need to go to private individuals for information on what our own government is doing? Having a healthy and free media is a critical part of a fair democracy, but they are supposed to act as a system of checks, rather than the sole disseminators of information. Simply by the fact that the government refuses to discuss ACTA, all the information you have about it is rumour (not that this is a slight against you, merely the reality of the situation).

    Telling another minister to consult your website for information on what our government is doing is completely inappropriate.

  4. A Good Sign Hidden
    It’s probably a good sign that Clement is willing to refer people to Michael Geist, who is well known for bashing ACTA pretty hard. You don’t refer people to a website you disagree with unless you are an idiot, and I have a (possibly irrational) belief that he’s more likely to agree with Michael Geist than to be so stupid as to refer people to someone who’s been bashing your party.

  5. anything that goes on in ACTA is completely subservient to what we as parliamentarians decide on this issue.
    If that is true, then why are we even there? (ACTA talks) We have our own process well in motion. Walk away from the ACTA. You just said yourself that it doesn’t matter what happens there, so stop wasting time & resources on it & focus on our own copyright consultations & counterfeiting laws.

    Yeah, right, like that will happen. I smell a big steaming pile of something coming from Clement’s mouth…

  6. proud of that record?
    “While everyone else has done absolutely nothing, we have done next-to-nothing and so we are proud of that!”.

    Is it any wonder we are a society of mediocrity? Nobody strives to actually achieving “good”, just so long as they can say they are not as bad as everyone else.

    What a wonderful example our leaders set.

  7. I’m confused. How is it relevant that domestic law overrides ACTA? Isn’t ACTA an agenda for changing domestic law? Why would we need to plan our own agenda if he agrees we should use that one?

  8. Dwight Williams says:

    If he can’t disclose the details himself…
    …he’s possibly working around that here. May it rebound to every Canadian’s benefit if that’s so.

  9. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    who’s the boss?
    What could possibly prevent The Minister of Industry from disclosing the details? The only legal reason I can think of would be if the Canadian government has agreed to not apprise their own electorate. If that is the case, it certainly will not be good for Canadians.

    Has anyone noticed that the American people are also being kept in the dark about this? In fact, many of them aren’t too worried about this yet as they think that it will have to be ratified by congress. In fact, that is not the case:

  10. Joe Average says:

    The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement should be about counterfeiting but it sounds like it’s all about copyright. Why don’t they call it the Pro-Copyright Trade Agreement? Aren’t there already laws on the books that deal with counterfeiting? How is a secret treaty, technically an Executive Decision in the United States, going to solve counterfeiting in the 21st Century?

    I wish all involved in this process the best of luck in the near future. They’re going to need it.

  11. I’m starting to see why the US says it is a national security issue.. It’s probably to try to prevent a riot or a rebellion..

  12. Clement won’t have ACTA released to the public
    He refers to that is posting leaks short of other information, and Clement can request ACTA to be released to the public, but won’t.

    Obushma is a liar too (On a recent visit to China, Obama told students that ‘a free and unfettered Internet is a source of strength, not weakness’.)

  13. If this is democracy…
    … we would have been better off if Japan won WWII. At least they’re innovative.

  14. El Torro Poo Poo!
    Sure we can have our own copyright Laws under ACTA, but the terms of the trade agreement will make it impossible to do so. Wake Up Tony!

  15. Can we treat this as confirmation…
    If Tony Clement has seen the actual legitimate copies of the documents leaked to this website, and he has told people to come to this website for more information, does that tacitly confirm that the information that was leaked is genuine?

  16. Sure ACTA would be subservient to Canadian laws, as long as Canadian laws are harmonious with ACTA. Otherwise, Canada can’t say that it has implemented ACTA in the first place.

    Of course, if they adopt ACTA as it is, the whole copyright consultation this year will be shown to have been a sham.

    The best thing for them to do, in my opinion, is to go on record as saying that under no circumstances will the extensive measures that ACTA currently recommends be adopted into Canada… that ACTA needs to be made harmonious with Canada and Canadian interests before it will be adopted here (which means that they will likely have to implement some of the suggestions made during the copyright consultation before adopting ACTA).