This morning the Canadian government announced that it is joining the U.S. World Trade Organization complaint against China over Chinese intellectual property protection. Canada will be a "third party" in the complaint, which was launched earlier this month over China's criminal statutes involving commercial-scale copyright infringement. The Department of Foreign […]
Post Tagged with: "USTR"
U.S. Copyright Report More Rhetoric Than Reality
My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version, Ottawa Citizen version) discusses this week's release of the USTR's Special 301 Report. This year, it is a virtual certainty that Canada will receive special attention, with the U.S. claiming that the country has neglected to address critical issues and suggesting that it is rapidly emerging as a piracy haven. I focus on three issues likely to generate criticism in the Special 301 report – the fact that Canada has not ratified the World Intellectual Property Organization's Internet treaties, extended the term of copyright by an additional 20 years, or introduced anti-camcording legislation designed to stem movie piracy.
Notwithstanding the pressure on Canada to act on these issues, even one-time U.S. supporters are beginning to admit that these policies are open to doubt. Last month, Bruce Lehman, who served as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton Administration where he was the chief architect of the WIPO Internet treaties, acknowledged that "our Clinton administration policies didn't work out very well." Meanwhile, Marybeth Peters, the U.S. Registrar of Copyrights has noted that the U.S. extension of copyright was a "big mistake," and the President of the U.S. National Theater Owners Association has advised his members that notwithstanding the introduction of anti-camcording laws, unauthorized camcording in the U.S. is on the rise.
Not only are the policies suspect, but the USTR report should be seen for what it is – a biased analysis of Canadian law supported by a well-orchestrated lobby effort. Since the mid-1990s, the USTR has placed intellectual property protection at the very top of its priority list. As a result, dozens of countries have entered into trade agreements with the U.S. in which they undertake to implement U.S. style intellectual property protections.
Canada has not faced similar trade pressures – the North American Free Trade Agreement pre-dates the shift in USTR priorities – yet it has not been spared intense U.S. lobbying.
U.S. Copyright Report More Rhetoric Than Reality
Appeared in the Toronto Star on April 23, 2007 as We Mustn't Cave In To Copyright Bullying Appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on April 24, 2007 as U.S. Copyright Report Card More Rhetoric Than Reality This week the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. government department […]
U.S. Trade Policy and IP
Last week the U.S. and South Korea agreed on a major free trade agreement. The deal hasn't attracted much attention (though Canadian coverage has commented that a Canada – South Korea deal may now be on the way), but the extensive intellectual property provisions are worth noting, since they illustrate […]
In Good Company
The International Intellectual Property Alliance – a group that brings together several U.S. lobby groups including the MPAA, RIAA, BSA, the ESA, and publisher groups, has just released its Section 301 recommendations, a submission to the U.S. Trade Representative that frequently serves as a blueprint for U.S. commentary on intellectual property protection around the world. The list covers 60 countries, including most of the world's leading economies. The USTR report, which will be released in April, will likely mirror the IIPA recommendations.
Canada figures prominently on this list and indeed this year it is expected that the U.S. will escalate the pressure by placing us on the Priority Watch List. The Globe and Mail gives the lobby groups' recommendations front page coverage with dire warnings for Canada (the coverage is matched in other countries – see Taiwan and Thailand as examples). The IIPA submission on Canada includes a litany of complaints, including the failure to implement the WIPO Internet Treaties, the need for ISPs to play a greater role in dealing with copyright infringement, the need for a camcorder law, and the need for greater enforcement activity. The IIPA report is particularly critical of Bill C-60, arguing that Canada should "jettison" the approach in favour of something, well, like the U.S. has implemented. In fact, it incorrectly argues that full compliance with the WIPO Internet treaties requires legislation that matches the DMCA (full TPM protection, ban on devices that can be used to circumvent, limited exceptions). It also wants the scope of the private copying limited and clear liability for P2P services established. In fact, it even attacks Bill C-60's tepid distance learning and library loan provisions, arguing that they "would have had a significant detrimental impact on publishers of scientific, technical, and medical materials."
While the IIPA recommendations have predictably led to negative, overblown press coverage in Canada, a little context is needed. The reality is that the majority of the world's biggest economies face similar criticism, including: