Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Copyright Blacklist is a badge of honor

It means we've resisted being bullied into signing on to industry written laws like the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act designed to criminalize thousands of otherwise law abiding Canadians.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration added Canada Thursday to a notorious blacklist of countries where Internet piracy flourishes, reflecting a new, tougher line in Washington over the Harper government's chronic failure to deliver on promises of new copyright laws.

“Canada has never been put on the priority watch list before,” said Stanford McCoy, assistant U.S. trade representative for intellectual property and innovation as he released Washington's annual report or offenders.

Canada now joins a group of countries designated as being especially lax in protecting intellectual property, including Algeria, China, Russia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Venezuela. No other advanced Western democracy is on the list and Canada is regarded as a lawless hub for bootleg movies, ripped-off software and pirated chips that bypass copyright protections.

“The decision was not an easy one but we believed that high standards are appropriate in Canada,” Mr. McCoy said. It was clear that Washington's patience with Ottawa's repeatedly broken promises has run out, perhaps also a reflection of the greater status and power of the digital and entertainment sectors in the era of the net-savvy Obama administration.

In fact this is all smoke and mirrors, Canada is in fact meeting it's international copyright obligations as Michael Geist explains.
The move is not unexpected, given recent comments from Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Congressional panels as well as the demands from U.S. lobby groups. Those same groups will now dust off their press releases that lament the "embarrassment" of being included on the list (never mind that countries that represent more than 70 percent of the world's population are on the list) and the failure to introduce U.S.-style reforms (never mind that Canada enacted anti-camcording laws in 2007, introduced C-61 last year, is an original negotiating partner in the ACTA negotiations, joined the U.S. as a third party in the WTO copyright complaint against China, etc.).

Hopefully, the Canadian officials will similarly dust off their advice to the Minister, which for the past few years has stated (as obtained under Access to Information):

The Government is disappointed with the United States' decision to include Canada in its [year here] Special 301 "Watch List." Canada does not recognize the Special 301 process due to its lacking of reliable and objective analysis, and we have raised this issue regularly with the U.S. in our bilateral discussions."
So in other words, we may not be as abjectly servile to the giant media conglomerates as they believe is called for from the peons, but we are hardly the hotbed of piracy suggested by today's events. Don't forget the attitude behind this:
Sony BMG's chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy,'" she said.

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