June 11, 2012

Canadian IP lobby gives SOPA a try


Anti-piracy legislation protesters gather to demonstrate against the SOPA (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

Canada’s leading intellectual property lobby, the Canadian IP Council (CIPC), seems to be eagerly following the US down the SOPA rabbit hole.

On his blog, IP law professor at the University of Ottawa, Michael Geist, laments the release of a new policy document realised by CIPC that details their legislative priorities.  If passed, the suggestions would seriously reshape Canadian copyright law.

Per Geist,

“Anyone hoping that the SOPA protests, the European backlash against ACTA, and the imminent passage of Bill C-11 might moderate the lobby group demands will be sorely disappointed. Counterfeiting in the Canadian Market: How Do We Stop It? is the most extremist IP policy document ever released in Canada.”

To look at the five groups of recommendations is enough to make any business invested in the future of tech (or basic internet freedom) shudder.

Geist goes on to examine each suggestion, but the clearest flaw is the reliance on data that has already been discredited.  For example, the document claims there are serious and overwhelming links between counterfeiting and copyright infringement and organized crime. However, a IDRC report last year wrote that,

“Arguing that piracy is integral to such networks means ignoring the dramatic changes in the technology and organizational structure of the pirate market over the past decade. By necessity, evidentiary standards become very loose. Decades-old stories are recycled as proof of contemporary terrorist connections, anecdotes stand in as evidence of wider systemic linkages, and the threshold for what counts as organized crime is set very low.”

SOPA is the law that just won’t die. A report that suggests that ”the existence of remedies that include blocking orders, domain seizure and contributory liability are useful tools to encourage the cooperation of intermediaries who do not wish to be involved in the illicit activity,” has clearly been written by a group that fails to conceive of the importance and reality of these new industries.


Ariel Bogle is a publicist at Melville House.