Longtime readers of this blog will recall Captain Copyright, the ill-fated Access Copyright copyright "education initiative" that was withdrawn in 2007 following intense criticism. Copyright education initiatives have remained a focus of some rights groups, who believe that convincing kids of the value of copyright can lead to greater respect for copyright law. In fact, in my earlier writing on copyright policy laundering, I noted that a consistent theme has been calls for the government to create and fund public education and awareness programs.
It now appears that the government is laying the foundation to do just that. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office, which falls under Industry Minister Tony Clement's mandate, has quietly launched a "Promoting Respect of Intellectual Property Rights" initiative that involves "exploring ways it can contribute more actively to promoting the respect of intellectual property rights." According to documents obtained from a source recently consulted by CIPO, it is starting the initiative by conducting a gap analysis to identify existing IPR respect promotion programs, key messages, and how CIPO might partner with these efforts. The scope is described as follows:
CIPO's mission is to accelerate Canada's economic development by fostering the use of intellectual property systems and the exploitation of intellectual property (IP) information. The IP rights delivered by the Office enable its owner to profit from the creative endeavour. However, inventors and innovators will only avail themselves of the IP system if this value is respected, i.e., the greater the IPR is respected, the greater the value.
The focus for our IPR promotion work, we believe, will be on awareness-raising and educational programs highlighting the benefits to owners, economic development and Canadians at large, more so than the narrower concept of IPR enforcement. We define “respect of IPR” as: “Understanding what is IP, knowing of the existence of an IP right and affirmatively respecting that right.”