Archive for October, 2012

The $2 Billion Big Pharma Giveaway in CETA: Can the Government Ignore Its Own Internal Analysis?

The Canada – EU Trade Agreement has been the subject of conflicting reports on the inclusion of ACTA provisions, but there has been no doubt about the ongoing dispute over the agreement’s patent rules. Given the EU demands for significant patent reforms, the issue has been set aside with the ministers expected to address it when they meet in November.

For months, big pharmaceutical companies (known as Rx&D) and civil society/the generic pharmaceutical industry have been battling over the issue. Each has released public opinion surveys that purport to demonstrate support for their position (Rx&D, civil society). More important has been a study that concluded that the proposed reforms could add billions to annual Canadian health care costs along with reports that show that the large pharmaceutical companies failed to meet research and development commitments the last time the Canadian government acquiesced to patent reform demands.

While Rx&D sought to downplay those studies (as did the government, which described these concerns as a myth), it now faces an internal government study conducted by Industry Canada and Health Canada that placed the costs of CETA patent reform as high as $2 billion per year. The $2 billion cost would significantly decrease the government’s claims of likely economic gains from CETA and heighten provincial opposition, since the costs will be offloaded to provincial health care budgets.

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October 18, 2012 5 comments News

Study Finds File Sharers Buy 30% More Music Than Non-File Sharers

A new study by the American Assembly finds that file-sharers buy 30 percent more music than non-file sharers. The study is consistent with many other studies that confirm that file sharers spend more on music and cultural products than those that do not. Study author Joe Karaganis has a follow-up […]

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October 18, 2012 5 comments News

BC Government Launches Open Textbook Initiative

The BC government has become the first Canadian province to launch an open textbook initiative, committing to 40 new online, open textbooks for 40 popular post-secondary courses. The open texts can be freely accessed and modified and could be in use for the 2013-14 academic year.

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October 17, 2012 1 comment News

CETA Negotiations Continue Under Cloud of ACTA Concerns

The Canada – EU Trade Agreement negotiations continue this week in Brussels with both parties hoping to wrap up many outstanding issues. According to information provided by Canadian officials at a briefing earlier this month, the plan is to narrow the areas of disagreement to no more than ten issues, with ministers meeting in Europe in November to try to forge an agreement on the contentious areas. While patent issues will clearly be part of the November discussion, Canadian officials advised that the copyright chapter was largely concluded. In fact, when I asked directly whether the text would require changes to current Canadian copyright law, the response was that it would not. 

Notwithstanding those reassurances, Canadian officials acknowledged the border measures issues were still unresolved. Moreover, days later a European briefing offered a somewhat different take on the copyright provisions. La Quadrature du Net, a leading European NGO, reports that the European Commission confirmed that the controversial criminal ACTA provisions were still included in the CETA draft.

The reports have sparked a wave of new concern (see here, here, here, here, and here) with suggestions that ACTA is “back from the dead in Europe.”

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October 17, 2012 14 comments News

Internet Governance World Meets in Toronto Amid New Domains Controversy

The Internet governance world gathers in Toronto this week as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the California-based non-profit corporation charged with the principal responsibility for maintaining the Internet’s domain name system, holds one of its meetings in Canada for only the third time. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the Toronto ICANN meeting comes at a particularly tumultuous time for the organization with mounting criticism over its process for creating new domain name extensions that could reshape the Internet.

After years of debate and discussion, ICANN last year unveiled a policy that opened the door to hundreds of new domain name extensions. While most Internet users are accustomed to the current generic (dot-com, dot-net, and dot-org) and country-code (dot-ca in Canada) extensions, ICANN’s plans will radically change the domain name landscape by creating hundreds of new extensions linked to brand names, geographic regions, and even generic words.

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October 16, 2012 6 comments Columns