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Canada still appears on US government’s copyright watch list

By | Published on Tuesday 1 May 2018


The American government has published its annual list of countries that, as far as it’s concerned, are currently sitting on the copyright naughty step. Canada is still on there. Although I think they just include their Northern neighbour for laughs.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative publishes a list each year of the countries that it feels are failing to protect the intellectual property rights of American creators and businesses. It sits alongside that separate ‘notorious markets’ list of websites that US copyright owners are most bothered about in any one year. Because the United States Trade Representative – like Buzzfeed and Forbes – knows that everyone loves a list.

Actually, this one is in itself two lists, respectively labelled the ‘watch list’ and the ‘priority watch list’. America’s Southern neighbour Mexico is on the former, but Canada currently sits on the latter, alongside the likes of China, Russia, India and Venezuela.

Specific concerns regarding Canada this year include: “Poor border and law enforcement with respect to counterfeit or pirated goods, weak patent and pricing environment for innovative pharmaceuticals, deficient copyright protection, and inadequate transparency and due process regarding ‘geographical indications'”.

On copyright specifically, the US Trade Representative’s report continues: “The United States also remains deeply troubled by the ambiguous education-related exception to copyright that has significantly damaged the market for educational publishers and authors. While Canadian courts have worked to clarify this exception, confusion remains”.

“Additionally”, the report continues, “Canada does not provide full and fair national treatment with respect to copyright and related rights, and has specifically denied US creators and performers remuneration to a greater extent than other countries. The United States urges Canada to reform these aspects of its copyright regime to compensate creators for their works fully and fairly”.

Don’t expect any Canadian lawmakers to be losing too much sleep over any of this. An internal memo from the Canadian government leaked last year, commenting on the country’s previous appearance on the US copyright watch list, stated: “Canada does not recognise the validity of [this report] and considers the process and the report to be flawed. The report fails to employ a clear methodology and the findings tend to rely on industry allegations rather than empirical evidence and objective analysis”.

But what other countries have this unclear methodology based on industry allegations rather than empirical evidence and objective analysis identified as IP under-performers? Well, since you ask, this lot…

Priority Watch List: Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, China, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela.

Watch List: Costa Rica, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.