USTR To Canada: 'Bow Down And Accept ACTA!' Canada: 'Yes, We Shall Do Your Bidding'

from the why? dept

The story of ACTA is well-known by now. ACTA was yet another attempt by copyright and patent maximalists to spread maximalist principles further via a secretive treaty that allowed certain industries to participate in the process, but kept out any and all concerns from public interest groups, the public itself, and innovative industries that would be harmed by the laws. Thankfully, widespread protests in the EU resulted in ACTA being declared dead there, as the EU Parliament refused to agree to ACTA. And, without the EU, it’s questionable if ACTA will ever be a real treaty in any way that matters. Yes, some countries have signed it, but there are still some ratification processes necessary, and without the EU on board, the whole thing seems kind of pointless. Other negotiating countries, including Switzerland, Australia and Mexico have indicated that they are not fans of ACTA either.

Many assumed, therefore, that ACTA was dead. But… not the US apparently. Nor Canada. In an announcement today, the USTR is apparently acting as if the months of ACTA protests and the death of ACTA in Europe didn’t happen. Instead, it’s all about pressuring countries like Canada by claiming that they need “to meet its Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement obligations.” Seriously, now?

Now, if I’m a Canadian politician, this is the point where I tell the USTR to go pound sand and to recognize that the world has clearly rejected the concept of ACTA, and having just gone through a long and arduous copyright reform process (also mainly because of US demands from the likes of the USTR), that the USTR should go pick on some other country to bully.

Instead, however, we get near complete capitulation. With near perfect timing, a bill has been introduced in the Canadian Parliament to bring Canadian IP law into line with ACTA. Why would they even bother?

The core elements of the bill include the increased criminalization of copyright and trademark law as well as the introduction of new powers for Canadian border guards to detain shipments and work actively with rights holders to seize and destroy goods without court oversight or involvement.

It’s really amazing that they’re willing to open this can of worms, given just how strongly people fought back against ACTA elsewhere. Michael Geist has a good initial analysis of the bill at the link above, and will likely follow up to call out some more specifics in the 52 pages of changes to copyright and trademark law, but just the fact that Canada is bothering to move forward on this is troubling. It shows a Canadian government who doesn’t seem to care about what the public wants, but rather feels the need to kowtow to US entertainment and pharmaceutical lobbying interests.

The first is that this bill provides a clear signal that Canada will move forward with ACTA notwithstanding some doubts over whether there is even sufficient global support to allow it to take effect (six ratifications are needed). ACTA is toxic in Europe, where officials now go out of their way to assure the public that ACTA is dead and that any new agreements will not involve efforts to revive it. ACTA has also faced serious opposition in other negotiating countries, including Switzerland (which

has not signed it), Australia (where a Parliamentary Committee recommended against ratification), and Mexico (where the Senate

rejected it in 2010). ACTA was promoted as a “gold standard” agreement on counterfeiting, yet the failure to garner support from many participants has left an agreement that is often cited as an example of how not to engage in international negotiations.  Given the global opposition, Canadian support for ACTA is disappointing.

For many years, Canada has strongly resisted US-style copyright laws, despite tremendous pressure to do so. Watching them cave on ACTA is certainly a disappointment. Meanwhile, watching the USTR pretending as if ACTA went forward as planned is simply par for the course, and a reminder of just how completely detached from reality that organization remains. Elsewhere in the USTR’s agenda release today, it mentions working with Japan to bring ACTA into force, which is somewhat laughable, considering how many countries have been rejecting it.

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Comments on “USTR To Canada: 'Bow Down And Accept ACTA!' Canada: 'Yes, We Shall Do Your Bidding'”

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Chris Brand says:

Canada caving is a surprise

Not because our government isn’t keen to bend over for the US, but because right now they want every bit of leverage they can get to try to get Obama to approve that oil pipeline.

I guess this must be Canadian-style negotiating – “We’ve given you everything you asked for, so will you please now give us what we’d like ?” Unfortunately, that doesn’t work with bullies…

crade (profile) says:

“Now, if I’m a Canadian politician, this is the point where I tell the USTR to go pound sand and to recognize that the world has clearly rejected the concept of ACTA”

Clearly, you aren’t used to being bullied by someone stronger than you and having no recourse.

As for Canada having resisted US style copyright, it’s just like everywhere else, the people don’t want it, and the politicians are shoving it down our throats anyway because they have no choice, the US is forcing us to do what they want. It’s actually been that way a long while, it’s just the politicians kept having problems getting the laws that the people have obviously and repeatedly said they don’t want forced into place without having an election or something interupt them. It’s not like they haven’t been trying.

Nic (profile) says:

Never liked the libs, but...

Gotta say that at least, they knew where to draw a line and protect Canadian interests from American ones. Such as declining participating in the Iraq war for the U.S. and the like.

The Conservatives seem satisfied pandering to the U.S.’ every whim and that’s irritating as hell to watch the country act like a subsidiary of our southern neighbours.

Anonymous Coward says:

It shows a Canadian government who doesn’t seem to care about what the public wants, but rather feels the need to kowtow to US entertainment and pharmaceutical lobbying interests.

Maybe the Canadian public wants access to US markets and the jobs it brings. They’re salivating over pipeline. I’d guess most Canadians would trade more jobs and greater total wealth for tighter restrictions on their ability to pirate (mostly American) content.

bigpicture says:

Re: US Jobs

What kind of jobs would that be? I work for a Canadian oil company and it is full of Americans, is that because unemployment in the US is double digit? The US government should be creating jobs in their own country instead of trying to push their monopoly and human rights violations on other countries. Wake up in the US and see that the “special interests” groups have nothing to do with the interests of the citizens or the good of the country. Did the banks and wall street not perpetrate the biggest scam in history on the citizens, and stole their money, yet they were not charged or put in Jail. Why? Gullible citizens?

Anonymous Coward says:

Somehow seems appropriate on so many levels...

The title of this piece brings to mind a particular passage from some tune or other that I’ve heard far too many times, both literally and figuratively. (Apologies for my feeble, on-the-fly attempt at interpreting the concept of “fair use” in a manner consistent with the exigencies of circumstance.)

“Bow down before the one you serve/you’re going to get what you deserve…”

PopeyeLePoteaux says:

I guess their plan is...

…to put enough pressure to get the six ratifications needed for ACTA to be valid and enforced, which is somewhat odd since there is already a lot of pressure regarding the TPP and the new TAP treaty (trans-atlantic version of TPP).

One can only hope that there will be enough opposition to prevent them to get what they want.

We need to keep opposing this corporative bullying.

special-interesting (profile) says:

It seems the USA has been this belligerent animal since the end of WW2 which gave it the kind of power over others that corrupts even angels. Its no surprise hearing about ‘pressure’ being applied to Canada. What goes on behind the scenes in the machination of such force?

How and what ‘incentives’ were discussed and what punishments were implied or outright spoken of to force such a rapid and publicly unwanted capitulation? I mean that ACTA is like universally despised both in its writing and how it has been negotiated in secrecy. (When was the last time any politician actually cared about a protest anyway?) and logic? The European union countries chewed it up and spit it out whole like a sane USA should have done.

I wanna say something like ?Bow, wow. Woof woof? but hey… I like Canada. I have to admit surprise at this one as CA seems to have a few more scruples that the USA of late. Lets see what the response is from this bit of political trickery.

If the Canadians were smart they would have to maneuver around the USA pressure like introducing the bill but how far will it get? I would not be surprised if it did not vanish later (assuming some political willpower on their part). Lets see when April comes around what the status is.

cauthon (profile) says:

Blue helicopters:-)

“For many years, Canada has strongly resisted US-style copyright laws, despite tremendous pressure to do so. Watching them cave on ACTA is certainly a disappointment.” I am sure there must be some mistake here. Only the paranoid, venal and mendacious National Rifle Association could come up with a crazy idea like having an international organization interfering with our freedom and sovereignty. Remember what then-candidate Obama said, some people are so stupid that they cling to their guns and religion. Are you watching out for black helicopters hoovering over your server farms? OK, back to the real world: It would be nice if we didn’t have to be concerned about everybody in the bleeping world trying to cause trouble for us, but that seems to be the nature of human beings; if we want to keep any freedom we will have to keep right on kicking them in the whatever, slow them down as much as possible.

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