Donald Trump has wrung many concessions out of Justin Trudeau on the NAFTA renegotiation, but none is more nonsensical and potentially damaging than a 20 year copyright term extension that will bring copyright in line with the US's extreme copyright system, where copyright endures for the life of the author plus 70 years, meaning that nearly every work created in US history will disappear due to commercial irrelevance, rather than being made available for scholars and other users by libraries and other nonprofits.
Canada, like most of the world, has had a life-plus-fifty term, which is why, every year, works enter the Canadian public domain, free for all to use. In America, by contrast, the term of copyright means that virtually nothing has entered the public domain in decades.
The Trudeau concessions to Trump repeat the horrific mistakes of the US copyright system, including a retrospective term extension, meaning that already-published works (like "Art of the Deal") will get the extra term added onto their copyright. There's no coherent explanation for this: copyright on existing works can't incentivise the creation of those works. We don't need to give Donald Trump an extra 20 years of copyright over his existing books, because we know he had enough incentive to create those books (because he created them) and any additional incentive we give him will (sadly) not improve those books.
Yet the major copyright change for Canada is the extension in the term of copyright beyond the international standard of life of the author plus 50 years to life of the author plus 70 years. The term of copyright was never going to hold up a major trade agreement and Canada did agree to an extension in the original TPP. However, the cost will be significant, locking down works from the public domain for decades and potentially increasing educational costs by millions of dollars. From a domestic policy perspective, the change should impact the current copyright review as term extension has been one of the top requests from rights holders and areas of concern for users. The extension shifts the copyright balance in Canada and should be factored into future reforms, including the benefits of extending fair dealing to restore the balance.
(Image: Trump's Hair)