This week, I had the honour of speaking at a packed event at the World Intellectual Property Organization titled How WIPO Can Contribute to Achieving the Right to Education. The panel featured speakers from around the world focusing on the copyright-related education issues. My talk, which used emerging data from the copyright review, focused on the reality of Canadian copyright, fair dealing, and education. A recording of my remarks embedded into my slide presentation is posted below in a YouTube video.
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Music Canada Reverses on Years of Copyright Lobbying: Now Says WIPO Internet Treaties Were Wrong Guess
In the decade of lobbying leading up to the reform of Canadian copyright law in 2012, the music industry had one core message: Canada needed to implement and ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Internet treaties. While many education, consumer, and business groups expressed concern that the digital lock rules in the treaties would harm innovation, the music industry was insistent that the WIPO Internet treaties represented an essential component of digital copyright reform. The lobbying campaign was successful as Canada proceeded to implement and ratify the treaties. The legislation is still relatively new, but in a stunning reversal, the head of Music Canada now says that the drafters of the WIPO Internet Treaties were just guessing and suggests that they guessed wrong.
The intensity of the lobbying for the WIPO Internet treaties is difficult to overstate. In 2004, Billboard reported that 26 Canadian industry groups were pressuring the government to ratify the treaties. In 2006, Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (later Music Canada), wrote an op-ed in the National Post titled “Protect Artists: Reform Canada’s Copyright Laws” which argued that:
As the political world was focused on the Liberal government’s inaugural budget last month, Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, introduced his first bill as minister by quietly moving ahead with plans to reform Canadian copyright law to allow for the ratification of an international treaty devoted to increasing access to copyrighted works for the blind.
The World Intellectual Property Organization’s Marrakesh Treaty expands access for the blind by facilitating the creation and export of works in accessible formats to the more than 300 million blind and visually impaired people around the world. Moreover, the treaty restricts the use of digital locks that can impede access, by permitting the removal of technological restrictions on electronic books for the benefit of the blind and visually impaired.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the Canadian decision to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty is long overdue. The Conservatives announced plans to do so in last year’s budget but waited to table legislation days before the summer break and the election call. With that bill now dead, the Liberals have rightly moved quickly to revive the issue.
This week’s signing of the TPP in New Zealand provides a useful reminder that a potential ratification means committing to far more than just one (very large) trade agreement. One of the Troubles with the TPP is that the intellectual property chapter requires all countries to ratify or accede to as many as nine international IP treaties. In other words, the treaties within the treaty are a core part of the obligations that come with TPP.
Article 18.7 specifies that all countries have already ratified or acceded to three IP treaties: the Patent Cooperation Treaty, Paris Convention, and Berne Convention. More notably, there are as many as six additional treaties that must be ratified or acceded in order to ratify the TPP:
The Trouble with the TPP series (Day 1: US Blocks Balancing Provisions) spends the next few days examining the TPP’s copyright provisions. One of the most controversial aspects of the 2012 Canadian copyright reform process involved the anti-circumvention provisions, often referred to as the digital lock rules. The U.S. pressured Canada to include anti-circumvention rules, which were required for ratification of the WIPO Internet Treaties, within the copyright reform package. They feature legal protections for technological protection measures (TPMs, a broader umbrella that captures digital rights management or DRM) and rights management information (RMI).
There was an enormous amount of scholarly analysis on these issues throughout the reform process. For example, I wrote about the flexibility in implementing the WIPO Internet Treaties, Carys Craig wrote about the negative implications for fair dealing, Ian Kerr wrote about the broader implications of digital locks, Jeremy deBeer focused on the constitutional concerns, and Mark Perry wrote about rights management information. Moreover, David Lametti, now a Liberal MP and the Parliamentary Secretary for International Trade, wrote about the incoherence of the digital lock rules. The academic analysis was decidedly negative about the legal reforms as was the broader public, which made the issue a top priority as part of the 2009 copyright consultation.