World’s Leading Tech and Internet Companies: Don’t Blame Canada on Copyright

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, which includes a who's who of the tech world including Microsoft, Google, T-Mobile, Fujitsu, AMD, eBay, Intuit, Oracle, and Yahoo, have issued a strong defense of current Canadian copyright law, arguing that the U.S. is wrong to place Canada on the annual Special 301 list.  The CCIA notes that including Canada undermines the credibility of the process, stating "Canada’s current copyright law and practice clearly satisfy the statutory 'adequate and effective' standard. Indeed, in a number respects, Canada's laws are more protective of creators than those of the United States."

The defense, which was submitted to the U.S. government, is precisely the kind of defense that Canadian officials should be making when confronted with fear-mongering from the usual suspects about the state of Canadian copyright law.  That it is the world's leading technology companies speaking out should send a strong signal to Industry Minister Tony Clement and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore about how Canadian law is actually viewed by leading companies as they craft copyright reforms and develop a national digital strategy.

The CCIA raises several issues in countering the claims that Canada belongs on the list. 
With respect to the implementation of the WIPO Internet treaties, it notes:

watch-listing one nation for non-ratification of the WIPO Internet treaties would seem to require watch-listing all non-members of the WIPO Internet treaties. The European Union, for example, only just ratified the Internet treaties late in 2009, and by such logic was presumably as much a haven for pirates as Canada until that time. There is, therefore, no basis for USTR to conclude that any country does not provide adequate and effective protection based on non-ratification of any treaty: “adequate and effective protection” of intellectual property rights, by the plain, defined meaning of those terms, goes to the extent to which there is functional legal protection for particular rights under domestic law, not whether a country has taken action on a treaty.

The CCIA continues with specific analysis of the absence of anti-circumvention legislation, stating that "policy disagreements over implementation of protection for technological measures do not constitute inadequate or ineffective protection,""the lack of a right against circumventing TPMs used to prevent copying of copyrighted works cannot form the basis for a failure to provide adequate and effective rights," and "neither Canada nor any other country is required to implement any particular means of preventing copying, and most assuredly not a right once removed from copying: circumventing a technological lock."

The CCIA also address Canada's notice-and-notice system, countering claims that the U.S.-style notice-and-takedown is required:

The Special 301 process is not a vehicle to remake the world in the image of the DMCA, a world in which millions of automated cease-and-desist requests based on computer-generated allegations automatically trigger the blocking and take down of material, including of lawfully posted material, all without any due process or any judicial involvement. Concerns about unauthorized use of copyrighted works cannot be allowed to result in the sacrifice of fundamental values that are the hallmarks of civilized countries. Canada’s system of dealing with the online use and dissemination of material, including copyrighted material, is more than adequate and effective; it is a thoughtful, and in a number of cases, superior way of resolving disputes.  Notice and notice cannot form the basis for invoking procedures in the Trade Act.

The submission concludes by noting that Canadian copyright law is more protective of creators in some respects, pointing specifically to the existence of moral rights and the limitations of fair dealing when compared to the U.S. fair use provision.


  1. A sad day when an American organization does more to defend the Canadian people than our own government.

  2. Although the Canadian government should be saying the same thing, does it hold more value coming from these companies? If it came from the politicians, then everyone will just roll their eyes and assume it’s just regular lip service.

  3. If these companies put out the same amount of cash to lobbyists as the movie and music companies we wouldn’t have to worry about a Canadian style DMCA.

  4. George Geczy says:

    Nice report
    It is nice to see the CCIA recognise that the use of the “Special 301” for what is effectively an industry/political lobbying purpose is a mistake, though unfortunately that seems to be a bridge the US has crossed and has no intention to retreat back on. At present they don’t really same to care that their entire trade agreement process is weakened by this, but hopefully others (ie politicians in Canada) can resist the pressure and make their decisions on facts and balance.

  5. Daniel Boulet says:

    Why it might be appropriate for the Canadian government to not participate in the “Special 301” process
    As I understand it, the essence of our (Canadian) government’s position on the “Special 301” process is that the process is pretty much a farce and has no credibility. Participating in such a process by making a submission would tend to lend credibility to the process. Since I cannot imagine that the Canadian government is even remotely interested in enhancing the credibility of the process, not making a submission is almost certainly the right approach to take.

    When I read last year that Canada had been included on the list and even given some sort of “worst of the worst” standing, it immediately struck me that what little credibility the list had before, it now had a lot less. Seeing the above mentioned defense of Canada and pretty pointed criticisms of the whole process by some pretty big players would seem to reinforce my sense that the whole process not only lacks credibility but is rapidly losing what little credibility it ever had.

  6. The big tech companies regret allowing the DMCA

    “…Michael Petricone, senior vice president for government affairs at the Consumer Electronics Association, offered a “mea culpa” for the DMCA on behalf of the electronics industry. “We took them at their word,” Petricone said of those who said the anti-circumvention provisions would be used only to tackle legitimate piracy.”

  7. Freedom Fighter says:

    Let’s face it
    The biggest problem with our copyright law is the fact that we have one. So-called “rights” for so-called “creators”? Like for what – that crappy Olympic song? Gimme a break. Stupid arrogant rock stars? They don’t deserve any money to start with. Cancel the law today, it doesn’t work. We already get everything for free so what good is it.

  8. 301 is companies setting the rules for government
    The US, as exemplified by the 301 process and how legislation is dominated by corporate interests, has become increasingly morally bankrupt. It’s awful for the world. Additional comments on the 301 status can be found at Ars Technica: (scroll to the bottom for reader feedback).

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  10. Umm..
    In your last italicized excerpt, “notice and notice” appears.
    Its also in the PDF of the submitters.
    Is that what they mean? Or notice and desist/cease/takedown? Notice, notice, notice… I get enough spam!

  11. The biggest violators of copyright in Canada are the record labels and the CRIA

  12. Coperations
    It’s good to see some multinational corps standing up for what’s right for once. Granted, it’s in their best interest. Still, this is the sort of thing that can change the opinions of those lawmakers who are unsure about how to proceed because of lack of knowledge on the issue. It’s hard to say DMCA style copyright laws are not good when the politicians seems to get massive amounts of lobbied information saying the exact opposite.

  13. Freedom Fighter hit the nail on the head
    Freedom Fighter said:
    Let’s face it
    The biggest problem with our copyright law is the fact that we have one. So-called “rights” for so-called “creators”? Like for what – that crappy Olympic song? Gimme a break. Stupid arrogant rock stars? They don’t deserve any money to start with. Cancel the law today, it doesn’t work. We already get everything for free so what good is it.
    That bears repeating!!

  14. Balanced copyright serves it’s purpose
    Just remember that copyright laws were put in place for a purpose. To give the creator and/or author an incentive. Just because the laws are outdated and out of balance doesn’t mean you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    Take a wander through a library. Or take a look at the variety available on iTunes. Or walk through a theater or a DVD rental store. Even take a look at what you can download. These resources would be poorer without copyright law.

    Don’t let the exceptions define your rules, no matter what your views. There is a proper role for copyright laws, if they are updated for the modern age.

  15. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    who speaks for Canada?
    Farce or not, our government should have made a statement. Are we a sovereign nation? If our government believes that the USTR 301 list is a farce the statement could in fact have been strongly to say that this process is farcical. Not saying anything can very easily be interpreted as accepting the conclusion.

    Although it was good to have The Computer & Communications Industry Association speak out on Canada’s behalf, I am very concerned at the precedent this is playing into. I for one do not think that foreign corporations should be speaking for our country. Or any country. Corporate aims only rarely coincide with society’s aims.

    The next logical step would be corporations making policy for our country…. like, say, ACTA.

  16. Our government is *really* busy right now and can’t be bothered with unimportant things like governing Canada.

  17. Jonathan George says:

    A question
    Does the CCIA also represent the companies developing and distributing the very technological locks the anti-circumvention legislation would protect?

    I mean, I am thrilled that they would speak out against the necessity of such legislation but would it not only serve to benefit such companies financially? I mean, with such legislation, they can literally develop software and hardware locks that don’t work very well at all and, by the merit of anti-circumvention legislation, as long as it conforms to some sort of standard, it is illegal to circumvent their piss poor protection.

    Also 301 was always arse-backwards to begin with, essentially placing the onus not on the complainant, but forcing the recipient of the C&D to try and prove that they are not violating the DMCA through counter-claim rather then taking anything resembling a reasonable default position.

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    Conduct a tramp through a deposit. Or withdraw a examine at the variety purchasable on iTunes. Or accomplishment finished a house or a DVD transaction keep. Still determine a perception at what you can download. These resources would be poorer without papers law.

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