Canadian IP Lobby Calls For SOPA North, Complete With Website Blocking And Secondary Liability
from the weren't-they-paying-attention? dept
The Canadian IP Council, one of the country’s biggest intellectual property lobbying groups, has just released its policy roadmap (pdf) for the coming years, and the list of goals and recommendations is disturbingly ambitious. The document focuses primarily on counterfeiting and trademark issues, but its list of remedies amounts to a Canadian SOPA that would see ISPs regulated, websites blocked and personal data shared with infringement-snooping private watchdogs. Michael Geist has posted a thorough, itemized takedown of the many ridiculous assertions in the document, which is well worth reading in its entirety, but here are a few key points:
There is a recommendation for new laws adding substantial secondary liability for copyright and trademark infringement, and laws encouraging the creation of private mechanisms of cooperation between rightsholders and service providers. The stated goals of these recommendations are clear in their SOPA-esque desire that rightsholders be able to quickly and quietly shut down anything they don’t like online, preferably without having to go through the courts at all:
SOPA may be dead in the U.S., but the IP lobby is anxious to revive it in Canada. SOPA targeted ISPs with website blocking as well as measures focused on payment intermediaries and online advertising networks. In addition to the quote above that even targets resolving search queries, the report states:
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.
It adds that:
positive relationships between rights holders and these intermediaries, including online payment processors, search engines, Internet service providers, online advertisers, online retailers, web auction sites, web hosting providers, domain name system (DNS) registries and social media platforms, can provide the basis for cooperation in the prevention of counterfeit distribution. This relationship requires the support of government.
The report also asks for the criminalization of all sorts of things involving counterfeiting, but as Geist points out, what this represents is an attempt to shift all the costs of what is traditionally a private action onto the public. They want the government to enforce their IP rights for them:
The report has several recommendations that would require the government to spend millions of dollars enforcing private rights. The criminalization of intellectual property discussed above is designed to increase public enforcement of private rights. Unlike the current system, which typically requires rights holders to assert their rights through civil litigation (an approach that has recently yielded million dollar awards), the move toward criminal provisions would require government prosecutors to act on behalf on rights holders. This represents a huge enforcement subsidy. Moreover, the report recommends:
1. The government must encourage enforcement officials to seek strong remedies in the case of IPR infringements and ensure prosecutors exploit the full range of remedies available to them, including the proceeds of crime regime.
2. Develop a team of properly funded and dedicated enforcement professionals in order to effectively face the challenges presented by counterfeiting in the digital age. In the absence of such a team, it will be impossible to respond to the challenges of small shipments of counterfeit product delivered online, and Canada will not be effectively positioned to partner with our international counterparts in tackling multinational operations.
3. Create an interagency intellectual property council consisting of senior officials from various government departments, including the Department of Justice and the RCMP, with the mandate to develop public education programs, initiatives for law enforcement and policy.
4. Establish a specialized IP crime task force to guide and lead anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy enforcement efforts in Canada.
The creation of new agencies, task forces, enforcement teams, and education programs are all part of a systemic effort to shift costs to the public.
The document also leans heavily on ACTA, often misrepresenting its recommendations as requirements, and ignoring the fact that ACTA is facing significant backlash in the EU. In America, the SOPA protests and the growing internet movement have succeeded in getting a lot of intellectual property groups to back off from their most draconian requests for things like website blocking—but such is apparently not the case in Canada, if the IP Council isn’t even the least bit bashful about pushing such an extreme position.