As Canadian NAFTA negotiations continue in the aftermath of a U.S.-Mexico agreement on a trade deal, the inclusion of a mandated copyright term remains a bit of mystery. The U.S. has long been focused on getting Canada to extend the term of copyright beyond the international treaty standard of life of the author plus 50 years and seems likely to want to do so here. If so, the cost will be significant, locking down works from the public domain for decades and potentially increasing educational costs by millions of dollars. The U.S. fact sheets on the deal have undergone regular changes which suggests that the issue may still be in play. The original fact sheet issued last week described the copyright term provision as follows:
Extend the minimum copyright term to 75 years for works like song performances and ensure that works such as digital music, movies, and books can be protected through current technologies such as technological protection measures and rights management information.
The provision appeared to involve works-for-hire or song performances, but not a full copyright term extension beyond the international treaty standard. Two days later, the U.S. issued an updated fact sheet that included a full copyright term extension:
Set a minimum standard of 75 years of copyright term for sound recordings and other works calculated by date of publication, and life plus 70 years for works calculated based on the life of the author.
While that description remained online for several days, it disappeared over the weekend. The current version goes back to the original fact sheet with no reference to a general copyright term extension. The back-and-forth suggests that the issue may still be at play as the Canadian negotiations continue with Canada rightly opposing term extension in the updated agreement.