USTR’s Bully Report Unfairly Blames Canada Again

The U.S. government has released its annual Special 301 report in which it purports to identify those countries with inadequate intellectual property laws.  Given the recent history and the way in which the list is developed, it will come as no surprise that the U.S. is again implausibly claiming that Canada is among the worst of the worst.  As a starting point, it should be noted that the Canadian government does not take this exercise particularly seriously.  As an official with the Department of Foreign Affairs once told a House of Commons committee:

In regard to the watch list, Canada does not recognize the 301 watch list process. It basically lacks reliable and objective analysis. It's driven entirely by U.S. industry. We have repeatedly raised this issue of the lack of objective analysis in the 301 watch list process with our U.S. counterparts.

This year's report is particularly embarrassing for the U.S. since it not only lacks in credible data, but ignores the submission from CCIA (which represents some of the world's largest technology and Internet companies including Microsoft, Google, T-Mobile, Fujitsu, AMD, eBay, Intuit, Oracle, and Yahoo) that argued that it is completely inappropriate to place Canada on the list.  The technology giants reminded the USTR that "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."

With respect to the actual data, the USTR report is largely rhetoric rather than reality.  The reality is:

  • According to the software industry's own piracy numbers, Canada rate is declining and is dramatically lower than any other country on the priority watch list.  Moreover, even the Business Software Alliance has characterized Canada as a "low piracy country."
  • According the recording industry's own numbers, the Canadian recording industry did not decline last year as badly as the U.S. or Japan and it ranked well ahead of the global average for digital music sales growth.
  • According to the motion picture industry, illegal camcording has declined rapidly in Canada in recent years.  Canada is one of the only countries in the world with criminal convictions for such activities.
  • Last year Canada amended its Proceeds of Crime regulations by removing the Copyright Act from the list.  The change had been requested by copyright lobby groups.
  • Canada is often characterized as a prominent home for BitTorrent sites, yet there are more sites hosted in European countries such as the Netherlands but it is not included on the list.
  • Canada is the only participant in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement to be named to the Priority Watch List.  Apparently, our involvement in those talks counts for little.
  • Comparative analysis of U.S. and Canadian copyright law identifies numerous areas where Canada's copyright laws are stronger than those found in the U.S.
  • The RCMP has prioritized intellectual property enforcement and conducted thousands of investigations in recent years.
  • Canadian enforcement measures include a host of other provisions that are not found in many countries that do not make the USTR list, such as statutory damages and anti-camcording rules.

Looking beyond just Canada, the list is so large, that it is rendered meaningless.  According to the report, approximately 4.3 billion people live in countries without effective intellectual property protection.  Since the report does not include any African countries outside of North Africa, the U.S. is effectively saying that only a small percentage of the world meet its standard for IP protection.  Canada is not outlier, it's in good company with the fastest growing economies in the world (the BRIC countries are there) and European countries like Norway, Italy, and Spain. 

In other words, the embarrassment is not Canadian law.  Rather, the embarrassment falls on the U.S. for promoting this bullying exercise and on the Canadian copyright lobby groups who seemingly welcome the chance to criticize their own country.


  1. Funny
    I’m glad to hear the Canadian government doesn’t fall for this silliness. I wonder, though, who actually does (not counting the fools actually backing the thing and/or stand to gain from it of course)

  2. The thing is, if they were trying to point to examples of illegitimate BitTorrent sites and saying Canada needs to fix it’s laws so we can better deal with these sites, that would at least make some sense. Trying to claims that since we have these sites, it must mean we have high piracy in general and so we need to implement a whole slew of unrelated anti-piracy laws that don’t help shut the sites down doesn’t seem honest to me.

  3. Privacy Guy says:

    an appropriate level of fear
    Maybe we should take this more seriously?

    You know, the U.S. has a history of using flimsy pretence to invade resource-rich countries…

    Anschluss anybody?

  4. Never let facts get in the way of a good industry report….

  5. Andrew Singon-Smith says:

    The only thing that this list does, is show that those countries present on ‘The List’, haven’t yet had their politicians corrupted enough to work against the interests of their own people, by implementing fascistic copyright laws, that the vast majority of the world’s population does not want.

  6. “Canada is not outlier, it’s in good company with the fastest growing economies in the world (the BRIC countries are there) and European countries like Norway, Italy, and Spain.”

    Italy is having issues with their economy at present, Spain’s unemployment rate is over 20% currently and after the economic downturn. There’s a worry right now in the global economy that Spain will turn into a Greece situation, Italy isn’t far behind. In fact the Bank of Canada warned about the effects of Greece and potentially Spain causing another global economic downturn. It was all over the news last night.

  7. Baseless claims are lies
    It took them 8 to 9 years to admit the 911 hijackers did Not come from Canada. Then again, they’ll get amnesia soon, when they want something from us, and bring back the “911 hijackers came from Canada.” The most important fact in their history since 2001, and you’d think they’d remember to keep it correct.

    I don’t know what’s more funny, the CBC attacking Google’s copyright lobbying for fairness – or, the CBC using Google Maps and likely using Google Search to attack Google’s copyright lobbying for fairness. Contrarily, the CBC never mention a thing about the *IAA lobbying. News with perspective and indepth coverage: Out the window. If the CBC broadcasts in the forest but if nobody is around to see it, is it still relevant?


  8. acta is a control bill meant to stop the 911 truth movement. google- mossad 911

  9. pat donovan says:

    and our own ministry of truth will treat this garbage as gospel, right?

    false flags, crapola, FUD, DMR takedowns, libel lawsuits,

    property is moving from rights to interest; a nation of renters (with NO second hand bookstores anymore) looks plausible, eh?


  10. US worst offender of pirateing Canadian Copyright matteral.
    US right now violates more Canadian copyrights then any other country in the world. Currently there is no means of compensation either. Right now Google has secured rights to all US content and with that they intend to include all Canadian published content without compensation to Canadian authors. Not only that the US rarely recognizing Canadian copyright. Nice when the tables are turned isn’t it.

  11. When I went to look at the USTR’s website about the Special 301 report, one thing that struck me is that it concentrates on a loss of business of US corporate interests. As such, don’t expect them to examine the US for problems.

    I love the statement: “Canada should fully implement the WIPO Internet Treaties, which Canada signed in 1997.”. Perhaps the US should look at their own practice with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the US signed in 1996 but to date has refused to ratify it… Ditto with the Rome Statue (signed in 2000… the US has in fact actively worked against the ICC)…

  12. Mr Amused says:

    Ludicrously False
    What I find amusing is that the US can put out this rhetoric and at the same time the US Gov puts out a study that says, “US government study: Piracy statistics unreliable”.

    So not only does the US gov know it’s hogwash, they even made a press release to say it’s all ludicrously false and unreliable.

  13. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    Self Interest
    The United States fledgling publishing industry underwrote itself by NOT paying royalties to the Victorian era’s superstar UK writer Charles Dickens and others, by bootlegging (that is to say republishing without permission) IP works copyright in Great Britain. Selling these books cheaply all across the USA was the foundation of today’s American publishing giants. Nothing in United States law prohibited this, so as a sovereign nation they contended were within their rights to sanction bootlegging books.

    The United States neglected to sign the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, first drafted in 1887 until 1988. Because it wasn’t in their interest to do so earlier. The United States acts in their own self interest, always has. That’s the point of being a sovereign nation.

    Makes you wonder why so many governments of sovereign nations are working so hard against their own nation’s self interest.

    @Andrew Singon-Smith suggests:

    “The only thing that this list does, is show that those countries present on ‘The List’, haven’t yet had their politicians corrupted enough to work against the interests of their own people, by implementing fascistic copyright laws, that the vast majority of the world’s population does not want. ”

    Not necessarily so… it could in fact simply mean that a government without the luxury of a majority may lack the political oomph to implement “fascistic copyright laws”. Remember that when time comes to go to the polls…

  14. Reminds me of a song
    “Well, blame Canada, blame Canada
    It seems that everything’s gone wrong
    Since Canada came along”

  15. seriously…
    The US system is corrupted beyond belief. This report means nothing.