Leak Of Complete CETA Text Shows Canada Fought Off EU Demands For More Extreme Copyright Rules

from the bad-news-for-TTIP dept

As we wrote back in July, it seems that the trade agreement between Canada and the EU, generally known as CETA, is finally nearing completion, after premature claims to that effect. One reason why we might believe so is that thanks to some public-spirited whistleblower(s), we now have both CETA’s main text (pdf) and the annexes (zip). This has permitted Michael Geist to perform an analysis of how the copyright provisions in CETA have evolved since the first leak of the chapter covering intellectual monopolies, posted by Wikileaks back in 2009. At that time, the European Union was pushing for some serious beefing-up of Canadian law in this area:

the starting point for copyright in CETA as reflected in 2009 leaked document was typical of European demands in its trade agreements. It wanted Canada to extend the term of copyright to life of the author plus 70 years (Canada is currently at the international standard of life plus 50 years), adopt tough new rules for Internet provider liability, create criminal sanctions for some copyright infringement, implement new rights for broadcasters and visual artists, introduce strict digital lock rules with minimal exceptions, and beef up enforcement powers. In other words, it was looking for Canada to mirror its approach on copyright.

Geist’s post explores how that gradually changed, as reflected in subsequent leaks, culminating in the latest one, of the full text. Rather remarkably, he finds:

The major European copyright demands were ultimately dropped and remaining issues were crafted in a manner consistent with Canadian law.

He sees four main reasons for this:

First, the domestic policy situation in both Canada and the EU surely had a significant impact as ACTA protests in Europe and consumer interest in copyright in Canada led to the elimination of the criminal provisions and the adoption of better-balanced, consumer-oriented rules.

Second, while there is much bluster about “strong” European rules or “weak” Canadian laws, the reality is that both are compliant with international standards that offer considerable flexibility in implementation.

Third, the “made-in-Canada” approach is gradually garnering increased attention around the world as a creative, viable alternative.

Four, when the European Union was pressed to prioritize its top intellectual property issues during the negotiations, copyright ultimately took a back seat to pharmaceutical patents and protection for geographical indications.

While it’s great that the copyright provisions of CETA are not nearly as bad as we had feared, there’s a worrying implication here for TTIP/TAFTA. The EU’s maximalist approach to copyright was only dropped in CETA because Canada fought back. In TTIP, there is zero chance the US will do that — on the contrary, it may well want the EU to become even more extreme. That means we can probably expect some really awful copyright measures in TTIP, confirming earlier fears about what backroom discussions may be preparing for us.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Comments on “Leak Of Complete CETA Text Shows Canada Fought Off EU Demands For More Extreme Copyright Rules”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Setting the baseline

When pressed about the charade of a consultation on ISDS in TTIP and why none of the legal texts were added to provide an honest chance of interpreting, they made the claim that CETA was close to their current international framework and could be used as reference instead of the actual TTIP.

If you look at ACTA, the real difference between US industry drafts and the EU position was a question of interpretation and “concerns of public dissatisfaction” that lead to the final more restrained deal instead of the complete insanity in the drafts.

If you read between the lines the result for TTIP would be a more specific text with a focus on polishing the turd to better be able to sell it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The basic principle of EU-law is permission: If in doubt, you need permission from the creator and right holder. Add IP taxation on media. Add that EU law opens up for criminal charges on account of copyright and you have quite a lot worse of a situation in EU regarding IP than in USA in trat regard. EU would be a haven for IP industry if we were stuck in the 1980’s or 1880’s. The laws are fundamentally incompatible with the internet and the measures to address that has been more or less complete and utter nonsense as a result.

The flipside, is the legal traditions of innocence untill proven guilty, a generally higher standard for the needed proof, far lower damages, loser pays and a more restricted access to data. Add a legal sharing between members of a household and a few other discretionary rights and exceptions to make things more tolerable.

Anonymous Coward says:

i was of the opinion that the problem person in the EU was Karel de Gucht. he was the main pusher for ACTA in the EU and when that failed dismally, he changed tack. hopefully, when he is replaced in the near future, the person taking over will be a bit more sensible! locking everything away only prevents people from getting it legally. if the items are too extreme in price or difficulty in obtaining, the alternative methods climb the ladder.

good on Canada, however! what a shame more governments wont stand up for their own citizens, preferring to take the bribes so that an industry can command what happens! the USA is the worst one in all of these ‘deals’. if the people aren’t watching their backs, there would be even more shit thrown about, especially when the deals are secret meetings, purposefully done to screw over the citizens!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Canada is in an interesting place where this sort of bargaining happens continuously between different parts of the country. As a result, some actual thought has been put into the consequences of copyright law, how things will be abused, and what impact it will have on the citizenry of all parts of the country. So with this backdrop, the people at the table with the EU had a pretty decent war chest to depend on, as they had arguments backed up with data, they knew what the people of the country wanted and didn’t want, and they could spot the loopholes a mile away. Plus, Canadians are the masters of the compromise 🙂

It’s kind of sad that other countries such as Switzerland Finland, Sweden and Norway who have had similar internal wranglings over copyright haven’t been able to influence the EU policy however. These kinds of arrangements, when combined with what the US wants, create a TTIP that would be about as good for the EU as NAFTA is for Mexico and Canada — meaning that a few global companies based out of the US will profit, but other than that, pretty much everybody loses.

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