With only limited fanfare, earlier this month Industry Minister Christian Paradis introduced Bill C-56, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. Since no one supports counterfeit products – there are legitimate concerns associated with health and safety – measures designed to address the issue would presumably enjoy public and all-party support. Yet within days of its introduction, the bill was the target of attacks from both opposition parties and the public.
The NDP raised the issue during Question Period in the House of Commons, accusing the government of trying to implement the widely discredited Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) “through the backdoor.” The public also picked up on the issue, noting that the bill appears to be less about protecting Canadians and more about caving to U.S. pressure (the U.S. called on Canada to implement ACTA on the same day the bill was tabled).
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the concerns associated with the bill fall into two main categories: substance and ACTA implementation. The substantive concerns start with the decision to grant customs officials broad new powers without court oversight. Under the bill, customs officials are required to assess whether goods entering or exiting the country infringe any copyright or trademark rights.