US Copyright Lobby Wants Canada Out of TPP Until New Laws Passed, Warns of No Cultural Exceptions

The U.S. government just concluded a consultation on whether it should support Canada’s entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations (I have posted here, here, and here about the implications of the TPP for Canada based on a leaked chapter of the intellectual property provisions). The Canadian government submitted a brief one-pager, pointing to Bill C-11,  ACTA, the dismantling of Canadian Wheat Board, and forthcoming procurement concessions to Europe as evidence that it is ready to negotiate the TPP.

While most submissions support the entry of Canada into the negotiations, it is worth noting that the major intellectual property lobby groups want to keep Canada out of the deal until we cave to the current U.S. copyright demands. The IIPA, which represents the major movie, music, and software lobby associations, points to copyright reform and new border measures as evidence of the need for Canadian reforms and states “we urge the U.S. government to use Canada’s expression of interest in the TPP negotiations as an opportunity to resolve these longstanding concerns about IPR standards and enforcement.”

Moreover, the IIPA wants it made clear that there will be no cultural exception in the agreement:

IIPA is also concerned about the significant market access barriers to U.S. copyrighted materials that Canada maintains pursuant to the “cultural exception” in its FTA with the U.S. Canada has interpreted this exception to be unreasonably broad, even to encompass discriminatory application of its copyright law, and has insisted on this misinterpretation of the exception in similar provisions in other trade agreements. IIPA strongly opposes the inclusion of any such cultural exclusion in the TPP, and the Canadian government must understand that TPP will not admit of such exceptions.

Its position is therefore that “once Canada adopts legislation that sufficiently addresses the copyright law and enforcement concerns that the U.S. government has clearly and consistently expressed, and once it disavows the introduction of overarching cultural exemptions into the TPP-FTA, its participation in the TPP negotiations should be welcomed.” The large pharmaceutical companies adopt a similar approach, stating “there are a number of significant issues that need to be meaningfully addressed before Canada joins the TPP negotiations.” These include some dramatic changes to Canada’s patent laws.

The U.S. copyright and patent lobby groups are not shy about demanding that Canada cave to external pressure on intellectual property before even being admitted to negotiate an agreement that as currently proposed would require Canada to cave to further changes, including the extension of the term of copyright. The IIPA demands would also mean that all Canadian cultural industries would be on the table, potentially including current foreign ownership restrictions and other programs geared toward supporting Canadian culture.

In light of these demands, it is critical for Canadians to use the Canadian consultation process to ensure their voices are heard on the TPP, particularly on the intellectual property issues. The consultation is open until February 14, 2012. All it takes a single email with your name, address, and comments on the issue. The email can be sent to Alternatively, submissions can be sent by fax (613-944-3489) or mail (Trade Negotiations Consultations (TPP), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Trade Policy and Negotiations Division II (TPW), Lester B. Pearson Building, 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2).


  1. Why stop there?
    TPP also includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

    Here is the contact information for the English-language countries; perhaps someone else can figure out contact information to enter submissions for the other countries.


    New Zealand:

  2. Let respect each others’ cultures, eh. 🙂

    I’m thankful for the “Canadian content” rules, our Ministry of Heritage, our Privacy Commissioner, and the many little things that stand out about our nation like a beacon in a blizzard.

    Stay cool Canada.

  3. I’m sure that the current government will probably cave to get us into this since they’ve shown a lack of regard for pretty much anything that doesn’t advance their agenda.

    It does show an interesting trend that seems to have started where the various reforms to IP law are not really about benefits Canadians for Canadian’s sake, but to try and make us have more of an appeal to large international groups. While this ultimately may benefit the country in the short terms, I can’t help but think that most of this is short sighted thinking that will ultimately end up with more damage in the long term.

    The trend also seems to more about locking things up in patents/copyright so that people get paid for an idea whether they use it or not, and try to keep it locked away rather than actually produce any real innovation.

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  5. Unfortunately, I expect this sitting government to put entrance into further international trade deals ahead of long term consequences of selling out our sovereignty over IP. [Like they did to the wheat and soon to be dairy boards].

    There will likely be short term monetary gains but at a steep price to our digital and cultural sectors. Gold & oil is all the folks in Calgary — oops — I mean Ottawa can see as valuable trade goods.


  6. Ray Saintonge says:

    Mixed blessing? These demands by the US would make it easier for a normal Canadian to say “No” to TPP. The US does not seem to understand that many Canadians do not consider their culture to be industrial.

  7. Ray Saintonge: You think we’ll get any choice?

  8. Oh this is ‘Rich”!
    News Corp’s chairman and chief executive officer had this to say on SOPA’s fading lustre…

    “So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters…”

    Is he upset big content has had a setback or they have been outspent 😀

  9. Is their anything besides sending an email to representatives that can help us oppose this?

  10. NZ last year introduced “3 strike” copyright infringement legislation (and a very unclear piece of legislation it is, which also presumes guilt unless the accused can prove innocence) under pressure from US politicians as condition of TPPA negotiation.

    Ah, circular ref, the article I was going to link, actually links back to your own one Michael!

    NZ also also put updated Patent Biil on hold, gov denies it’s because it awaiting the outcome of TPPA, but TPPA and it’s patent and copyright conditions would overwrite much of NZ’s current legislation

  11. Ray Saintonge says:

    Alex: I don’t think it’s about getting a choice. Harper likes power, and I don’t think he’s ready for a free-trade style debate if he feels that the time table for TPP will have that happen around the time of the next election.

  12. I wonder
    Could the Canadian public sue lobbyists for interfering in state matters? Could we use the courts against them because it seems to me, we’re not going to win this war without a legal showdown. Maybe a constitutional challenge against lobbyists and their rights over ours?

  13. David Piepgrass says:

    About this email…
    What should the subject line of the email be? Does the government have a web page about the kind of feedback it is looking for?

  14. about australia
    Australia has not made much (perhaps none) in the way of changes to Australian copyright law and the Americans have not made much protest. Mind Australia is one of the more free trade, liberal countries in the world and we have ‘fought right along side’ the US in every war since 1917 , suppose that might explain the different attitude.

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  16. Richard M Stallman says:

    Intellectual Property is a Propaganda
    I basically agree with you, but it is gratuitous confusion to lump
    copyright law and patent law together as if they were one issue. And
    the term “intellectual property” includes many other disparate laws as
    well. That term is propaganda for the adversary, so using it is an
    own-goal. See

    Since I figured this out, 7 years ago, I have carefully avoided using
    any single term to talk about both copyright law and patent law. That
    will help spread awareness of how different they are. Please join me.

  17. For anyone clicking the link above, unfortunately the auto-formatting includes the sentence period in the hyperlink, so it does not work. The url, without the period, is:

    That aside, I agree that “intellectual property” is a mistake.

    It’s an analogy that does not accurately describe digital artifacts but let’s it’s proponents bring in the word “theft”, and its synonyms, when theft doesn’t belong anywhare near the discussion. Copying always leaves you with more, by definition. Copying might breach a contract, but it is certainly not theft.

    To me the important things to consider for an “information economy” are simple: strong privacy laws (which I see as being based in human dignity rights; the desire for attribution can be seen as one facet of this), and modernization of the standard yet highly-flexible contract laws to better reflect social goals and norms.

    Specifically, I think we should be revising the standard (template) agreements to encourage positive social norms, such as sharing and reuse, but at the very least the defaults should recognize the current norms, and the current norm very much includes copying.

    I think software EULAs and “terms of use” exemplify this debate. EULAs typically try to remove all users’ rights by default (no reverse engineering, no sharing, no warranty, …), and yet, everyone still just clicks next.

    Until that changes, we can expect more of the same: a huge gap between what we say we want and what we actually choose.

  18. arcticredriver says:

    Protecting intellectual property and the SARS crisis
    I think we should refresh our memory of the fundamental justification for protecting intellectual property rights every time we discuss extending the length we protect those rights, or discuss expanding when rights qualify for protection.

    The extension of copyright and patent rights to artists, composers, writers, film-makers and inventors is that their inventions generally benefit society. By extending them limited exclusive rights in theory we encourage them to profit from their work, so they can keep on creating new stuff, that will benefit our society.

    I think the SARS critis exposes how forgetting the fundamental justification for protecting IP rights can result in instances where IP rights harm society.

    Alan Rock was the Minister of Health during the SARS crisis. He had been told there was a drug that it was believed would help prevent front line health care workers from being infected, and help prevent them from inadvertently pass on the infection to uninfected patients. Rock decided the Ministry of Health should pay for enough profilactive doses of this drug to administer a dose to key front line health care workers.

    He personally contacted an executive at the Pharmaceutical company that owned the IP rights to distribute that drug in Canada. That company was a Canadian branch plant of a US pharmaceutical company. The executive told Rock that the drugs Canada wanted could not be made available. I read that the drugs were in the company’s stockpile, but that the patriotic executive decided to reserve all the doses for use in the USA.

    Having been told that the firm with the IP rights would not make doses available Rock decided he would be authorized to invite other pharma firms to submit the prices they would charge to provide the doses Canada desperately needed.

    The original pharma firm went ballistic. How dare Rock request other firms to compete to supply drugs for which they still controlled the IP rights.

    I don’t think there is any question that the pharma firms intransigence was not in the public interest, and their threats were not in the public interest.

    The extention of the duration of copyright is no longer in the public interest. Some decades ago I read something really surprising in an interview with the founder of Project Gutenberg, a project to make available for download all books that had fallen out of copyright. He had lots of conversations with Librarians — who told him that 50 percent of newly published books go out of print within five years. These potentially useful books, lost to the general public because they were still protected by copyright, represent a huge loss of our shared intellectual capital. Decades of copyright protection didn’t protect those authors.


  20. intellectual property isn’t
    I was reading the GNU page on “intellectual property” and wearing my “thinking face” and thought I’d give my shortened take:

    If you mean copyright, say copyright NOT “intellectual property”

    If you mean patents, say patents NOT “intellectual property”

    If you mean trademarks, say trademarks NOT “intellectual property”

    Why? Because they all have different justifications in law, and different histories. It is like sewing a bird to a duck to a dog.

    “Intellectual property” is an umbrella term that refers to independent histories but attempts to aggregate their legal force and conflate their scopes and application.

    If you are against an increasing abuse of copyright, patents, and trademarks, the last thing you should want is to add their scopes and legal strength together into some new, (unholy) super-law.

    So, remember: divided they fall, together they stand.

    If we don’t keep them divided they may eventually be outright consolidated under the law (if they haven’t arguably already been).

    So, while it can be appealing to shorten the language, it is arguably harming the greater community as copyright is increasingly used simply to prevent speech, and patents are increasingly used to bully competition and limit access to life-saving medicine and technology.

    The term “intellectual property” is “fit for the pit.”

  21. Re: intellectual property isn’t
    “a [fish] to a duck to a dog”…