Archive for May, 2011

Copyright Lobby Groups Press European Parliament to Pass ACTA

Copyright lobby groups are pressing the European Parliament to quickly pass ACTA. The letter is believed to be a response to a request for an Opinion on the compatibility of ACTA with the EU Treaties.

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May 5, 2011 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

The US Intellectual Property Watch List: The Canadian Perspective

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the U.S. has again placed Canada on its Special 301 Priority Watch List, implausibly claiming that Canada’s intellectual property laws are seriously deficient and on par with countries such as China and Russia. The U.S. “analysis” is short and to the point:

Canada remains on the Priority Watch List. The United States continues to urge Canada to implement its previous commitments to improve its legal framework for IPR protection and enforcement. Unfortunately, Canadian efforts in 2010 to enact long-awaited copyright legislation were unsuccessful. The United States encourages Canada to make the enactment of copyright legislation that addresses the challenges of piracy over the Internet, including by fully implementing the WIPO Internet Treaties, a priority for its new government. The United States encourages Canada to provide for deterrent-level sentences to be imposed for IPR violations, as well as to strengthen enforcement efforts, including at the border. Canada should provide its Customs officials with ex officio authority to effectively stop the transit of counterfeit and pirated products through its territory. U.S. stakeholders have also expressed strong concerns about Canada’s administrative process for reviewing the regulatory approval of pharmaceutical products, as well as limitations in Canada’s trademark regime. The United States appreciates the high level of cooperation between the Canadian and U.S. Governments, and looks forward to continuing engagement on these important issues.

So Canada – a country with intellectual property protections that have been ranked ahead of the U.S., has many copyright rules more restrictive than the U.S., and digital markets growing faster than the U.S. – is once again placed by the U.S. on the watch list while other countries with similar laws are not.

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May 4, 2011 27 comments News

The US Intellectual Property Watch List: The Global Perspective

The USTR released its Special 301 report on Monday with the unsurprising inclusion of Canada on the Priority Watch List.  The list is designed to bully countries around the world to cave to U.S. demands on intellectual property reform and enforcement. In fact, this year’s report indicates that the U.S. is willing to make everyone the proverbial offer they can’t refuse:

USTR is announcing that it invites any trading partner appearing on the Special 301 Priority Watch List or Watch List to work with the United States to develop a mutually agreed action plan designed to lead to that trading partner’s removal from the relevant list. Agreement on such a plan will not by itself change a trading partner’s status in the Special 301 Report.

This year’s list includes Canada along with several Western European countries (Finland, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Norway) and dozens of other countries around the world. The total population of the 40 countries on the list exceeds 4.3 billion.  Many of these are poor countries with per person GDPs of a few thousand dollars per year, yet the primary complaint tends to revolve around patent protection and approval for pharmaceutical drugs. 

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May 4, 2011 2 comments News

The Conservative Majority: What Next for Digital Policies?

Last night’s election results have left many online speculating about the future of digital policies in Canada. I think it is hard to project precisely what will happen – we don’t even know for certain whether Tony Clement and James Moore will remain in their portfolios or move elsewhere (there are a fair number of open cabinet positions which could mean changes). Assuming they stay the course, however, the Conservative positions on digital policies are strong in a number of areas.

For example, a majority may pave the way for opening up the Canadian telecom market, which would be a welcome change. The Conservatives have focused consistently on improving Canadian competition and opening the market is the right place to start to address both Internet access (including UBB) and wireless services. The Conservatives have a chance to jump on some other issues such as following through on the digital economy strategy and ending the Election Act rules that resulted in the Twitter ban last night. They are also solidly against a number of really bad proposals – an iPod tax, new regulation of Internet video providers such as Netflix – and their majority government should put an end to those issues for the foreseeable future.

On copyright and privacy, it is more of a mixed bag.

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May 3, 2011 45 comments News

Polls are Open: Get out and Vote!

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May 2, 2011 29 comments News