This week, the government was formally included
in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations with the next formal round scheduled for New Zealand in early December. I’ve written extensively about the copyright implications
of the TPP as leaked versions of the intellectual property chapter and demands from U.S. copyright lobby groups point to a significant re-write of Bill C-11. Areas targeted for reform in Canada include ISP liability, statutory damages, and extending the term of copyright.
An additional issue has begun to attract increasing attention as the same lobby groups seeking copyright reforms have also put dismantling Canadian content regulations on the table. The IIPA, the lead lobby group for the movie, music, and software industries, told the U.S. government:
IIPA strongly believes that the TPP market access chapters must be comprehensive in scope, strictly avoiding any sectoral carve outs that preclude the application of free trade disciplines. We note that several market access barriers cited by USTR in its 2012 National Trade Estimate report on Canada involve, for example, content quota requirements for television, radio, cable television, direct-to-home broadcast services, specialty television, and satellite radio services. It should be possible to address such barriers to trade in the TPP, and thus augment consumers’ access to diverse content, while promoting local cultural expressions.
Many concerned with Canadian culture have reacted with alarm as the U.S. government has focused on potential changes to television and radio content requirements, classification systems for movies, and online video.
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More than ten years of contentious debate over Canadian copyright law appeared to come to a conclusion in late June when Bill C-11 passed its final legislative hurdle and received royal assent. Yet despite characterizing the bill as a “vital building block”, the copyright lobby that pressured the government to impose restrictive rules on digital locks and tougher penalties for copyright infringement is already demanding further reforms that include rolling back many key aspects of the original bill.
Unlike the last round of copyright reform that featured national consultations and open committee hearings, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes this time the lobby groups are hoping to use secretive trade negotiations to forge legislative change. Later this week, the International Intellectual Property Alliance, an umbrella organization that represents movie, music, and software associations, will urge the U.S. government to pressure Canada to enact further reforms as part of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.
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Appeared in the Toronto Star on September 23, 2012 as Copyright Lobby Demands Rollback of Recent Canadian Reforms in Secretive Trade Deal More than ten years of contentious debate over Canadian copyright law appeared to come to a conclusion in late June when Bill C-11 passed its final legislative hurdle […]
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The U.S. government just concluded a consultation
on whether it should support Canada’s entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations (I have posted here
, and here
about the implications of the TPP for Canada based on a leaked chapter of the intellectual property provisions). The Canadian government submitted a brief one-pager
, pointing to Bill C-11, ACTA, the dismantling of Canadian Wheat Board, and forthcoming procurement concessions to Europe as evidence that it is ready to negotiate the TPP.
While most submissions support the entry of Canada into the negotiations, it is worth noting that the major intellectual property lobby groups want to keep Canada out of the deal until we cave to the current U.S. copyright demands. The IIPA, which represents the major movie, music, and software lobby associations, points to copyright reform and new border measures as evidence of the need for Canadian reforms and states “we urge the U.S. government to use Canada’s expression of interest in the TPP negotiations as an opportunity to resolve these longstanding concerns about IPR standards and enforcement.”
Moreover, the IIPA wants it made clear that there will be no cultural exception in the agreement:
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The International Intellectual Property Association, which represents large copyright lobby groups such as the RIAA, MPAA, BSA, and ESA, has released its annual report
on the state of intellectual property protection in dozens of countries around the world. The report is designed to convince the U.S. government to place countries on the “Special 301 watchlist”. Canada
is regularly cited, though Canadian officials have noted
In regard to the watch list, Canada does not recognize the 301 watch list process. It basically lacks reliable and objective analysis. It’s driven entirely by U.S. industry. We have repeatedly raised this issue of the lack of objective analysis in the 301 watch list process with our U.S. counterparts.
This report is what Canadian officials have in mind when they talk about it being driven entirely by U.S. industry. There are many aspects worth noting in this year’s report – the criticism of countries like Vietnam and the Philippines for encouraging the use of open source software (the Vietnamese program was established to help reduce software piracy), the criticism of Bill C-32’s digital lock provision that allows cabinet to establish new exceptions (the IIPA would like any new exceptions to be both limited and for a limited time), and the near universal demand that countries spend millions of public dollars on increased policing, IP courts, and public education campaigns.
Of particular note, however, is the fact that the IIPA report provides a fairly convincing case that there is considerable flexibility in implementing the WIPO Internet treaty anti-circumvention rules.
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