US Trade Rep lies about Canadian piracy

The US Trade Representative is once again trying to pressure Canada into adopting a version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (a 1998 US law that's enabled rightsholders to sue tens of thousands of music fans as well as technology companies, without having any effect on downloading). The strategy is the same as last time, putting Canada on the "Priority Watch List" of countries that are soft on pirates.

Now, you may say that the US has no business telling Canada what sort of copyright laws it should have, and you'd be right.

But as Michael Geist points out, the idea that Canada is a pirate nation is just wrong -- even using the US copyright lobby's own numbers, Canada is a model citizen.

Not only is Canada not even remotely close to any other country on the list, it has the lowest software piracy rate of any of the 46 countries in the entire Special 301 Report. Moreover, it is compliant with its international IP obligations, participates in ACTA, has prosecuted illegal camcording, has the RCMP prioritizing IP matters, has statutory damages provisions, features far more copyright collectives than the U.S., and has a more restrictive fair dealing/fair use provision.
The Absurdity of the USTR's Blame Canada Approach


  1. Who cares about the facts?

    If the industry can find a government stupid enough to be their bitch, they might as well act on it.

    The only thing more convenient than a good servant is a good servant that likes being a good servant and further enslaves themselves at their own will.

    Of course I fully hope the Canadian people manage to thoroughly humiliate some their representatives for being such stupid shills.

  2. America continued to include Australia on its 301 watch list AFTER we’d implemented the US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – ie the bilateral DCMA treaty that it’s trying to convince everyone to sign.

    Why? Because of how we implemented one clause about penalties for pay television piracy (ie getting cable without paying). And it wasn’t even because what we implemented wasn’t allowed by the text of the USFTA – it was because it wasn’t how the US wanted us to implement it (or in their words, wasn’t in the ‘spirit’ of the USFTA).

    And all while Australia retained one of the lowest piracy rates on the planet (and practically no one has pay TV here, either).

    As an anti-dote to the 301 Report, check out Consumers International’s own IP Watch List, released today. It rates countries on how their IP law protects consumer rights – . The US’s hypocrisy is shown – it does pretty well (cause of its broad fair use laws). But the countries who have signed the USFTA don’t fair nearly so well.

  3. Yup, Canada’s copyright protections are so good that they have eliminated our own media from the market entirely! That is the ultimate goal, right?

  4. I support neither software piracy nor stupid legislative attempts to combat software piracy. Having said that, I think you are conflating two different things in this post Cory.

    The U.S. position on how a certain country treats software piracy is distinct from the amount of software piracy occuring in that counrty.

    Let’s say there’s a country called Elbonia, and in Elbonia they have no laws that punish software pirates, but they also have no software piracy occuring (since Elbonia has no electricity – hey, it’s my hypothetical, I can do that ;^). Fredonia could find itself on the “Priority Hot List” and never ever appear on the “BSA Claimed Piracy Rate” (ignoring for the moment that “Claimed Piracy Rate” is an extrapolation based on a small sample, nothing more). And both would be correct – one is about laws and policies, the other is about activities.

  5. is it Fredionia, or Elbonia? and cory’s point comes across that canada shouldn’t be on hot list, whether It’s because canada doesn’t commit piracy or whether we don’t procecute the pirates we don’t have.

  6. Here we go again.  The USTR has singled out Canada in its annual Special 301 Report for its supposed lax copyright policy.  However, in an even more sinister twist this time around, Canada has been elevated to the Priority Watch List.  Canada now joins such esteemed countries as China, Russia, India and Israel.  One cannot help but notice that this axis of evil represents more than 70% of the world’s population.

    Copyright reforms should be handled by sovereign nations in the normal discourse of their legislative assemblies.  Canada has made clear its commitment to protect its intellectual properties.  It should not stray from this course because a heavily influenced and lobbied report from another country claims its not pulling its weight.  The Special 301 Report is entirely driven by the corporate lobbyists and lacks and dissenting voices of reason outside of US copyright special interest groups.  Hopefully our Members or Parliament will listen the voices and concerns of their constituents and not the US corporate lobbyists who have the power of the media and press releases at their disposal.  Ministers should ask themselves or be told, could a representation of over 2/3 of the world population really be guilty of comprising the USTR’s ‘Axis of Copyright Evil’?

  7. I was a bit amazed not to find my country (Brazil) in the list, until I discovered that we’re the third in the watch list that comes next. It must be noted that most of the countries in these lists are developing countries. Countries that are struggling hard to bring their people out from poverty, to make education and information avaliable to everyone. If the costs are too high, piracy is the answer. I’ve been using pirate software even in a federal university. I must say (blame on us) government corruption takes part of it, but open, free information for all is also the way to fight it.

  8. #5

    My thoughts exactly. There’s a new face behind the desk, but the same BS keeps getting pushed across. Keep pulling this kind of stuff, and in two terms, everyone (outside the US) will hate Obama almost as much as they hated Bush!

  9. Timothy- that’s a nice hypothetical, but the primary purpose of rules and laws is to correct problems. No murders means you don’t need a law against them because it doesn’t happen anyway. So, in this respect Canada has laws more or less equivalent to it’s needs, and more than this, really doesn’t need the US- especially US industry- telling it what laws it should have.

  10. BALDHEAD – My point was that the label the US applied to Canada (in this case) has to do with policies not activities.

    I made no statement regarding, and I have no opinion of the suitability of the US standard being applied, but the label has to do with policies and laws, not actual counts of acts of software/IP piracy.

  11. Conservative Canadians often accuse the rest of us of being unjustly “anti-American”. They claim that this is a biased stance that “harms our relationship with our closest neighbours and friends”.

    But American governments have been bullying Canada since day 1 of confederation. The truth is, The United States sees Canada as the 51st state. There is a fundamental lack of respect for the sovereignty of our government policy. This is just the latest example.

    In the end, American ambassadors and lobbyists will turn copyright protection into a “trade issue”, and in this economy that will create traction to push bad legislation through our parliament.

    Thanks a lot, friends and neighbours.

  12. Hey, our own head of homeland security, someone who is actually supposed to know about this stuff, went around repeating the long-debunked myth that Canada let the 9/11 terrorists into the US (never mind that it’s clear the terrorists came via different routes and Canada doesn’t let ANYONE into the US, that would be our own US Customs, right?) and then John McCain reiterated it. I could see Joe The Plumber being simply ignorant about these facts, but the head of homeland security? That’s wilful ignorance at best, and a hidden agenda at worst. So given that kerfuffle last week, this doesn’t surprise me at all. Hey, if you guys harbored bombers, why not pirates, right? What’s next, Moose Flu?

  13. A few years ago the U.S. used similar bully tactics to force Singapore to eliminate laws banning chewing gum just so the Wrigley corporation could make a few extra bucks.

    Imagine the outrage Americans would feel if Columbia refused to buy any of our products until we legalized cocaine.

  14. Perhaps Canada should put the US back on its torture watch list.

    (They were removed in January 2008 under US pressure, because everyone knows the US doesn’t torture.)

  15. Perhaps the rest of the world should grow some balls and put the US on the terrorist watch list, the torture watch list, the civil rights watch list, and send overseers come next election.

    But we’re not going to do that. The image of “leaders of the free world” is marketed pretty strongly and still has believers.

    Too bad, really.

  16. @ #1 AirPillo

    You wrote:

    “Of course I fully hope the Canadian people manage to thoroughly humiliate some their representatives for being such stupid shills.”

    but it is the US Trade Representative who is shilling for industry here. It’s not that Canada doesn’t have its own shills and hacks, just that your comment is off the mark and some of us care very much about the facts.

  17. A few years ago, one of my colleagues returned from a DARPA conference to laughingly tell me that Canada had been added to the list of foreign nationals that you were supposed to wary of speaking to (along with China, Iran, etc.). There’s a long history of military cooperation between both countries, of course, and this was shortly after Canada had committed troops to Afghanistan. However, this was immediately after Canada declined to send troops to Iraq.

    So it’s pretty easy to see the parallels with Canadians refusing to pass their equivalent of the DMCA, and suddenly being elevated to the ‘priority watch list’ for piracy. The message seems to be that, if you don’t do everything we ask for, we’re going to treat you like the bad guys, regardless of the larger context.

  18. Funny, If they blacklisted Canada, it would just force everyone to pirate anything from the U.S since of their digital media blockade. It’s actually funny how scared the United states is of Canada. “Oh no you guys have socialized medical care, your communist”, “Oh no some of the terrorists came over from Canada in the 911 indecent”(not mentioning of course most of them were supposedly american citizens). “Oh no you steal all our movies and trade them on the internet”. Perhaps this is just the American’s clumsy way of trying to make Canada look bad to the world. “Something has to be done about the Canadian Situation”. how long do we have to wait until the randomly carpet bomb us and claim its to save us from our evil communist ways?

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