Canadian think-tank spends tax dollars to plagiarize and regurgitate talking points from US entertainment lobby group

The Conference Board of Canada, a think-tank, took money from the province of Ontario to develop a paper on the "Digital Economy" and then copy-pasted most of the material in it from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (an American lobby group representing the music, film and software industries). Some of the material was plagiarized -- copied without attribution.

Michael Geist has some pointed questions for the authors and the funders of the report:

The Digital Ecomomy report raises some deeply troubling questions for the Conference Board of Canada, its board directors, and for Minister John Wilkinson, whose department helped fund it. In particular:

For Anne Golden, the President and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada:
* Is a deceptive, plagiarized report drawn from a U.S. lobby group consistent with an organization that claims that it is non-partisan and that does not lobby?
* How much was the Conference Board of Canada paid to produce this report?
* Does the Conference Board of Canada stand by the report in light of these findings?
* Will the Conference Board of Canada retract the report and the inaccurate press release that accompanied it?

For Stephen Toope, President of UBC, and Indira V. Samarasekera, President of the University of Alberta, both members of the Conference Board of Canada board:
* Do they condone or support the use of plagiarism in this report?
* Will they ask the Conference Board of Canada to review this report and to retract it?

Perhaps most importantly, for Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson:
* How much public money was spent in support of this report?
* Does the government support the use of public money for a report that simply repeats the language of a U.S. lobby group?
* Will the Minister ask the Conference Board of Canada to refund the public money spent on this report?
* Will the Minister publicly disassociate himself from the report in light of these findings?

The Conference Board of Canada's Deceptive, Plagiarized Digital Economy Report


  1. Wow, great find Cory. I’ve already left a comment on Michael’s site. This really needs to get reported in the mainstream media as well. How do Canadians feel about their “elected” government funding support for a False-Flag approach, and so crudely executed, to impose yet another piece of the Pax-Americana legal structure, protecting the profits of the managers of creativity, rather than the producers of it?

    What other examples of this are out there, that we simply don’t know about, due to the different fields of awareness of the interested parties?

    The Internet and universal access to it is the number on defense against a “Divide and Conquer” strategic doctrine that has been successfully building the world as we know it since Rome and before. I don’t want to live in that world, if I can help build a better one.

  2. I’m enraged that my province paid for some lobbyists to copy/paste some damn propaganda.

    The government shouldn’t be doing this kinda shady shit in the first place.

    Goddamn corrupted pigs.

  3. Since they copied with attribution, the report was plagiarized. An interesting question is whether those portions were copied without permission, which might constitute a copyright violation.

  4. Oh, please, please, follow up on this choice bit of foolish hypocrisy for those of us too busy to do so.

  5. Can there be a DMCA takedown, or is this a case of corporate sharing, ie. we like you, so you can plagiarize our propaganda, and we’ll pretend we don’t notice?

  6. How can we get this more airtime? This needs to be read by many more people than us. The media should be reporting on this.

    Can we inform our Canadian M.P.’s about this and have them do something or are we just a lost cause?

    I’m disgusted at how blatantly this stuff gets pulled off and the fact that they expect no one to notice!

  7. To be fair, virtually every private organization or company of any size in Canada gets government funding. In the U.S., they build bridges to nowhere or subsidize midwest agribusiness, but because Canada has a more centralized parliamentary system pork-barrel money is divvied up in a less geographical way.

    And no, no-one is going to make a big stink about this in Canada, because while the Conservatives may be sucking up to U.S. intellectual property interests, the NDP and Liberals are sucking up to performing artists unions like ACTRA who also strongly support draconian U.S. style intellectual property restrictions.

  8. Looks to me like they were just remixing, like the cool kids do, no? Or are you in favour of draconian intellectual property restrictions now?

  9. Email to Patricia Stevens, Director of the Office of the President, UBC. (Responsible for, among other things, “issues management”)

    Title: Issue with the President’s possible support of plagiarism

    Dear Mz. Stevens

    I have sent this to you, as “issues management” seemed to be the best category for it, but, if it is possible, please forward it to Prof. Toope.

    My issue is with a recent report issued by the Conference Board of Canada (on whose board of directors Prof. Toope sits), titled “Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Economy” (

    As has been pointed out by Dr. Michael Geist, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, the report extensively plagiarises a report made last year by a movie, music and software lobbying group in the United States. (

    Dr. Geist poses some questions for Prof. Toope on his blog, which I have rephrased below, and would also like to know the answers to:

    1. Does Prof. Toope condone or support the use of plagiarism in this report?
    2. As a member of the board of directors for the Conference Board of Canada, will Prof. Toope ask the organisation to review the report and to retract it?

    And, as a graduate student at UBC soon to be entering academia, I have the following question of my own:

    3. Will Prof. Toope call for a review of the conduct of the authors of this report, Curtis Cook, Stephan Rimac and Guy Stanley?

    I hope you understand my concern that the leader of a prestigious academic institution is seen to be associated with practices that so brazenly contravene the most fundamental of academic research ethics.

    Thank-you for your time,
    Kieran O’Neill
    Student No: XXXXXXXXX

  10. @Tomslee (#13): The difference between plagiarism and remixing is that in remixing, the original creator is acknowledged.

  11. good try Keiran, but the University of British Columbia has a global reputation for bending over and spreading for business interests.

  12. Hmmm – well the next possible step is to write an opinion piece for the UBC student newspaper, if they have the balls to take on the university president…


  13. Seems like this is getting good coverage, so much so that Michael Geist’s site is down, presumably from the traffic.

    According to his latest post, the Conference Board of Canada has already issued a response, and compounded the issue.

  14. why, it’s the strangest thing;

    click all over their “explanation” link and it doesn’t open!

    imagine that! It’s almost as if they were a bunch of lying little pimp weasels trying to cover their slime trail.

  15. I am a loyal patron of the Vancouver Sun. I’ve written to the author of the Sun article…

    Mz. Shaw,

    Canada is not the “file-sharing capital of the world” let alone the “worst OECD” country. Gilles Rhéaume’s assertion that we are is a part of a bullshit campaign to make the sequel to Bills C-60 and C-61 more palatable.

    BayTSP is the company that tracks file-sharers and sends infringement notices to ISPs. Their statistics on file sharing show that for 2008 Spain, Italy, France and USA are all above Canada in torrent usage and that even Israel has more peer to peer traffic than Canada (which is ranked at #10).

    Jesse Willis

    P.S. I’d love to tell you about an amazing legal use of filesharing called This is a Canadian created non-profit public resource staffed by thousands of volunteers. They make public domain audiobooks from public domain books and stories. The audiobooks they produce are freely available to everyone via and all torrent sites. :)


  16. translation: “we are lying weasels that live on your blood. So what if we got caught? You little people have no control anyway. Scum.”

  17. @Ian70: And Geist has already responded to it.

    *sigh* And I’ve just gone through the extensive registration process required to view the “freely available” report:

    To be clear, the entire paragraphs of text copied almost verbatim from the U.S. lobbying group report were referenced, but only in the sense of having a single reference at the end of the entire paragraph, and no quotation marks.

    That is clearly over the plagiarism line. If a student at a university did that, they’d be risking disciplinary action.

  18. Can I remind every one that the UK government was caught plagiarising a student thesis used as evidence for the mythic WMD in Iraq and to justify starting the war. Widely reported in the press, and guess what – it didn’t bring down the government and the then Prime Minister didn’t resign. Were one of us to attempt a fraud of that magnitude we could expectd to be staring at bars for the rest of our natural lives

    The US perfected the art of government by banana republicanism in the 50’s. By buying control no one dies, but you still own the country.

  19. and all this while the govt is threatening funding to public radio in Canada…

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