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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Unruly Canadians

Canada has permanent-residency on the 301 Watch Lists prepared by the Office of the United States Trade Representatives. A disgrace earned by the state of our domestic copyright law. As Michael Geist revealed this week, the EU has an equally dismal view of Canada. Ongoing efforts to negotiate a trade agreement between Canada and the EU came with a scolding. Here are some of our sins:

1) We provide a copyright term of life plus fifty years, instead of life plus seventy.

2) We insist that ISPs are not liable for the conduct of their users.

3) Our law is antiquated (last major revision was in 1997, as compared to the DMCA of 1998).

4) We have not acceded to WIPO Internet Treaties (which obscures the mundane detail that Canada is compliant with international obligations.)

5) Our current law is precise on one disturbing point: copyright is a set of limited rights. So said our Supreme Court (four times).

6) Instead of listening to our trading partners (current and potential) with respect to changing Canadian law, our Federal Government chose to engage with Canadians. In summer 2009 Ministers James Moore (Heritage) and Tony Clement (Industry) embarked upon a national consultation. 8,000 letters later we are still waiting to see what shape the next law will take, but in the meantime Canadian media industries are holding their own.

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently published their 2009-2013 projections of global media and entertainment industries. In their comparison of consumer spending on media and entertainment in North America, PWC writes:

Canada will be the fastest-growing country, with projected 2.2 percent compound annual increase compared with 1.2 percent compound annual growth for the United States.

Notably, in the category of recorded music (the realm of active copyright lobbyists) both countries show a declining compounded annual growth rate. But Canada's decline is projected to -1% whereas its American counterpart shows -4.7%. Similar comparisons to U.K (-3.9%), France (-7.4%), and Germany (-1.9%) all place the Canadian music scene as more stable. This, despite the state of our copyright law.


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