Conference Board of Canada admits that its publicly funded, plagiarized, biased copyright "research" is junk

The Conference Board of Canada, a Canadian think-tank that was caught regurgitating a US lobby-group's press materials in a tax-funded report on the Digital Economy, has withdrawn its copyright-related reports, stating "these reports did not follow the high quality research standards of The Conference Board of Canada."

This is a major climb-down for the Conference Board, who refused to admit any wrongdoing after being caught plagiarizing materials from US copyright lobbyists, the International Intellectual Property Alliance, and even stood pat after it was revealed that they'd discarded and suppressed contradictory reports written by their own experts.

Statement from The Conference Board of Canada

The Conference Board of Canada has recalled three reports: Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Economy; National Innovation Performance and Intellectual Property Rights: A Comparative Analysis; and Intellectual Property Rights--Creating Value and Stimulating Investment. An internal review has determined that these reports did not follow the high quality research standards of The Conference Board of Canada.

Statement from The Conference Board of Canada (via Michael Geist)


  1. Remember this, CBOC, not only are you American shills, but nothing in Canada produced with Canadian talent has any value whatsoever unless American money is involved!

  2. “An internal review has determined that these reports did not follow the high quality research standards of The Conference Board of Canada.”

    From what I gather…they didn’t ‘research’ at all. Forget high quality…

  3. An internal review has determined…

    Atta go! Launching an internal review after everyone and their brother has pilloried it.

    Yeah, good luck with that.

    Still waiting for the CBC to report this news…

    Good luck with that too.

  4. That’s a very rapid about-turn. There were members of their organisation citing this as canon just two days ago.

    I have a feeling the “internal review” was motivated by the board of directors (or some other organ within the Conference Board) reading the bad press and digging deeper.

    I think publicising the issue really helped.

  5. whenever i think of canadian officials, i envision them with the flapping flip-top heads like in south park. just the officials though

  6. Kudos to those who broke this story. And I think the discussion thereof is of some value, since the more foment and profile-raising the problem gets the harder it is to be swept under rugs.

    Ideally I’d like to support gov’t officials– heck, I’m paying them after all– but this kind of lame-assery undermines that desire, as well as being wretched in a host of other ways.

    I’d be interested to know the assessment which their new work will receive once it is released.

  7. OK, the next question for the Conference Board is “So, why did you use plagiarized material from a US lobbying organization instead of the findings of your own researchers?”

    I look forward to hearing how they’ll answer that one.

  8. Santa’s Knee here.

    I envision the meeting to downgrade these reports ending thusly:

    “These reports did not follow the high quality research standards of The Conference Board of Canada, friend.”

    “I’m not your friend, buddy!”

    “I’m not your buddy, pal!”

    “I’m not your pal, guy!”

    “I’m not your guy, friend!”

    “I’m not your friend, pal!”

    “I’m not your pal, buddy!”

  9. Bob Hughes @7 – It all becomes clear to me now.

    When I think of my MP with a South Park-style flappy-mouth head, he certainly makes more sense all of a sudden.

  10. @17 Takuan – yeah sure they might notice, but all they’ll do is mouth off at each other like they always do. I say we put the benches a little closer together and allow swords in the house of commons again. Also, all MPs should be made to wear dunce caps as part of their parliamentary dress. Lord knows they deserve it.

    Although I will say I was rather impressed by MP James Moore on The Hour (CBC) last night. Either that whole interview was scripted on both sides or he actually has a head on his shoulders..

  11. “…internal review…”

    Yes, that is what happened. That or a holy shitstorm of public outcry.

    I know I sent to story to both NDP and Liberal parties, though who knows if they really read that stuff anyway.

    Though someone else pointed out that they have yet to see any of this on CBC or any mainstream media, which disappoints me. I think this would be an even bigger deal if any Canadians actually knew about it.

    Lobbyists make me angry. Copyright makes me angry. Wasting tax payer money makes me angry. Copying/capitulating to US interests makes me angry. Corporate interference in government makes me angry. Corruption makes me angry. Hulk Smash!

  12. Nice going, Michael Geist!

    When this story first broke I was skeptical: I would have preferred to see portions of both documents side-by-side to show that they were plagiarized, and was surprised that this not done.

    When the ConBoCan stood up and said “Dude, we totally gave credit where it was due, stfu” I was worried that the story didn’t have any merit. I’m glad that it all worked out.

    @11 I agree, I want to see these dorks held to account for this -whole- thing. Plus it would be nice if mainstream media took notice of this kind of thing.

  13. Wow. To me, the real news here is tht this is a real triumph for blogging-as-investigative-journalism.

    IAN70: side-by-side comparisons were provided on Geist’s site: these are the examples that were cited in the ConBoCan’s initial statement, when they said only one of them was uncited.

    Admittedly, the full articles side by side would have been nice, but that’d have made a DMCA takedown far too easy (because the DMCA applies in Canada and the rest of the world, or so ISPs appear to think).

  14. iirc, there was supposed to be a public presentation of these reports tomorrow (Friday), so it’s likely they pulled the plug early to avoid further embarassment and public humiliation.

  15. Good to hear that folks finally managed to get them to back down…

    but the very fact that such a thing happened in the first place, and that those responsible had the gall to try and bluff their way through resistance to it, indicates a potentially deep and serious problem that may take one helluva root canal to solve.

  16. meh, the Conference Board is a sock puppet for big business, no one takes it seriously in the first place. The produce whatever “results” they are directed to.

  17. Man, I show up to pillory the bit about “internal review,” and find that %60 of the comments are way ahead of me.

    All right!

  18. The phrase for what they did is ‘policy laundering.’ Its what corporations arrange when they want their talking points to be considered neutral.

  19. It’s a little late for this thread, but I just thought I should mention:

    Prof.Stephen Toope, president of UBC, sent me a (very satisfying) response to my email, as a UBC student, voicing my concerns about the plagiarism.

    He pointed out the review and withdrawal of these specific reports, and added:

    “The issues raised by the release of these articles has drawn to light issues in the internal review of Conference Board articles. As a Board member, I have been assured by the President of the conference Board of Canada that this internal review process will be reviewed and revised.”

    He is aware of the situation, and he has acted in a way befitting the head of a prestigious academic institution.

  20. Sounds more like the usual “We will consider implementing new policies to prevent it in future.”

    If they DO get caught in future, they’ll just consider the new policies again, and so on indefinitely.

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