Over the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to appear before two House of Commons committees – International Trade and Industry, Science and Technology – to discuss the digital law and policy implications of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement. My opening remarks were nearly identical and focused on four issues: copyright term extension, the cultural exemption, privacy and data protection, and Internet platform liability. The Standing Committee on International Trade yesterday released its report on Bill C-4, the bill implementing CUSMA, with no changes, meaning that lobbying pressure to immediately extend the term of copyright was rejected.
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The CUSMA Cost: My Appearances Before the Standing Committees on International Trade and Industry, Science and Technology
The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade released its detailed study on the priorities of Canadian stakeholders in NAFTA earlier today. I appeared before the committee to discuss intellectual property and digital trade issues in September. The report includes notable recommendations on culture (retain the cultural exemption in NAFTA) and digital rights (ensure that digital trade provisions do not undermine Canadians’ privacy rights or security of their data, a nod to concerns over data localization and data transfer rules). It also features an important discussion on the intellectual property chapter, with clear support for retaining a made-in-Canada approach consistent with international standards.
Bell Calls for CRTC-Backed Website Blocking System and Complete Criminalization of Copyright in NAFTA
Bell, Canada’s largest telecom company, has called on the government to support radical copyright and broadcast distribution reforms as part of the NAFTA renegotiation. Their proposals include the creation of a mandated website blocking system without judicial review overseen by the CRTC and the complete criminalization of copyright with criminal provisions attached to all commercial infringement. Bell also supports an overhaul of the current retransmission system for broadcasters, supporting a “consent model” that would either keep U.S. channels out of the Canadian market or dramatically increase their cost of access while maintaining simultaneous substitution.
Canada’s NAFTA IP and E-commerce Priorities: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on International Trade
The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade has been conducting hearings on the NAFTA negotiations. I appeared before the committee yesterday on a panel that included the dairy industry, food and beverage sector, and my comments on IP and e-commerce. The MPs showed considerable interest in both IP and e-commerce, asking questions about notice-and-notice, fair use, copyright balance, the public domain, and the privacy implications of the e-commerce chapter. My opening remarks are posted below.
The International Trade Committee’s TPP Report: Clarifying the Liberal, Conservative, and NDP Policies on Asia-Pacific Trade
The Standing Committee on International Trade released its long awaited report on the Trans Pacific Partnership yesterday, the result of months of hearings and public consultation. The TPP committee review represented the Liberal government’s most tangible mechanism to consult with the public on an agreement it did not negotiate and that suffered from a lack of transparency throughout the negotiation process. Along the way, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States and moved quickly to withdraw from the TPP. The resulting report is therefore anti-climatic, since the agreement is effectively dead.
Nevertheless, the 113 page report provides a record of the many witnesses that appeared before the committee and places all three political parties on the record. Much of the report identifies the controversial issues – intellectual property, dispute settlement, trade in services among them – and recounts the differing views. The report leaves little doubt about the public divide on the TPP, noting support from some (though not all) business groups and opposition from many public interest groups. For example, the report notes that the intellectual property chapter was among the issues most raised before the committee, particularly the patent provisions and copyright term extension. It highlights not only comments before the committee (including my own), but also briefs submitted to the committee, including one from the Girl Guides of Canada, who expressed concerns with copyright term extension.