Thursday, February 14, 2008

Canada a top US copyright violator

From CBC Canada:

"Canada has joined Russia and China as the biggest violators of U.S. copyright law, according to the U.S.-based International Intellectual Property Alliance.

In a report filed to U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab on Monday, the group recommended that Canada join the other two countries on the USTR's Priority Watch List."

I wonder if the the real reason that the IIPA has targetted Canada is because Michael Geist managed to get his government to drop plans for a Canadian version of the DMCA? The reason given the report is that the Canadians haven't implemented the 1996 WIPO treaties yet. The IIPA, incidentally, was set up in 1984 by eight trade assocations representing the various branches of the publishing, entertainment and software industries, covering about 1500 companies altogether. It was partly as a result of their lobbying that Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act got amended in 1984 to enable the US to impose trade sanctions against countries suspected of infringing US intellectual property rights.

In addition, since the US trade representative's office are tasked with providing a hit list of suspected IP infringing countries each year but don't have the staff to do the research or generate the figures, the IIPA kindly provide them with a report on estimated losses to US IP industires in countries around the world. After all they did have a ready made intelligence network of 1500 companies with branches all over the world and employees in those places who were more than happy to present estimates of how big they felt their local piracy problem to be. Incentives to inflate the figures are fairly obvious and given a similar opportunity to influence government policy the patent reformists I mentioned earlier today would probably take similar advantage.

The problem again is that real data on the cost of intellectual property infringement is notoriously difficult to find.

Update: Meanwhile via the good professor Geist and CBC News I learn that:

"A who's who of powerful companies and business associations have banded together to push for less restrictive copyright reform, driving a stake into the heart of the federal government's argument for its new copyright bill.

The Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, a group that includes Google, Yahoo, Rogers, Telus, the Canadian Alliance of Broadcasters and the Retail Council of Canada, among others, on Tuesday sent its stance on seven key copyright principles to Industry Minister Jim Prentice, Canadian Heritage Minister Josée Verner and several other cabinet ministers."

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