Global groups such as the International Confederation of Music Publishers and the U.S. National Music Publishers Association came to Ottawa this week to lobby the government to extend the term of copyright beyond the Berne Convention standard of life of the author plus an additional 50 years. The lobbying effort kicked off with a Hill Times piece, followed by an evening wine and dine event with politicians, a panel from the supposedly progressive Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, and then yet more lobbying with Canadian music lobby groups. The lobbying campaign comes on the heels of the controversial 2015 copyright extension of sound recordings, which some groups used to sow confusion about the term of protection for sound recordings (from 50 to 70 years) with the term of protection for the composition or written work (frequently longer at life plus 50 years).
Cooperation in the Pacific Rim by Jakob Polacsek, World Economic Forum (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/48179628441
The Trans Pacific Partnership, once left for dead after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement, is back with negotiations on a TPP11 (the original agreement featured 12 countries) set to resume next week. With reports indicating that dozens of provisions may be suspended, the Canadian government just concluded a public consultation on the issue. My full submission is posted below. It expresses concern with the lack of TPP transparency and provides comments on five substantive areas: dispute settlement, copyright, patents, e-commerce/digital trade, and culture.
The Government’s Role in E-commerce: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on International Trade
On the same day that I wrote about the overwhelming volume of hearings, notices, and consultations on digital policy, I also appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade to discuss the role of government policy in fostering the growth of e-commerce. The panel included eBay Canada’s Andrea Stairs (who argued for an increase in the de minimis threshold for consumer imports) and Peter Simons, the CEO of the Simons department store chain (who argued for no de minimis and the application of sales taxes on all purchases regardless of the size or location of the seller). My opening remarks centered on five areas for government action on e-commerce: access to affordable broadband, fostering consumer trust, intermediary liability, intellectual property, and e-commerce in trade agreements.
I appeared earlier this week before the Senate Open Caucus to discuss the IP and e-commerce implications of the NAFTA renegotiation. The panel, which included Jerry Dias, Al Mussel, and Brenda Swick, featured an engaging discussion with senators from across the political spectrum. My opening remarks emphasized three points from a Canadian perspective: meeting international standards, doing no harm, and seeking a level playing field. The comments are posted below.
The Canadian government’s deadline for written submissions to the consultation on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement closes today (though the government just announced that it will continue to accept comments on its form after the deadline). My submission to the consultation is posted below. I focus on two chapters: intellectual property and the new e-commerce chapter.
The submission begins with three broad comments and recommendations including the need for trade transparency, recognizing the importance of IP and e-commerce (and therefore not easily giving on those issues for gains elsewhere), and the desirability of an explicit commitment to balance as an objective in the IP chapter.