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SOPA, Canada style?

Published time: June 09, 2012 00:52
Edited time: June 09, 2012 08:15
Anti-piracy legislation protesters gather to demonstrate against the SOPA (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

Anti-piracy legislation protesters gather to demonstrate against the SOPA (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

A number of SOPA-style anti-piracy amendments to Canadian laws have been introduced by the Canadian Intellectual Property lobby in its report to policymakers. If implemented, the proposals could reshape Canada’s IP policy altogether.

­Inspired by US anti-piracy efforts, the Canadian Intellectual Property Council has issued a report that outlines anti-piracy legislative priorities for the coming years. The 32-page document calls for the introduction of SOPA-style policies and the implementation of ACTA in Canada.

In the view of CIPC, blocking orders, domain seizure, and contributory liability are very “useful tools to encourage the cooperation of intermediaries who do not wish to be involved in the illicit activity.”

The proposed changes target thousands of intermediaries between content providers and consumers. CIPC calls for an introduction of amendments to ensure “the ability to obtain injunctions against third-party intermediaries.”

Another part of the report suggests significant changes to Canadian law in order to “keep up with international best practices” outlined in the notorious ACTA agreement.

The CIPC wants to increase powers for border officials to “to detain, seize and destroy counterfeit products” without requiring the rights holder to obtain a court order, effectively legalizing border searches without court oversight.

­The Canadian Intellectual Property Council (CIPC) is a coalition of business groups working together under the banner of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. CIPC says its goal is to improve Canada’s economic competitiveness by “ensuring the adoption of world-class intellectual property protection.” The Canadian Chamber of Commerce positions itself as a vital connection between business and the federal government, working to shape public policy and decision-making “to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada.”

It also calls for the introduction of criminal liability for importing counterfeit goods, which, due to the broadness of the proposals, could potentially hit any individual traveller who does it unintentionally.

The report recommends the creation of several new agencies and enforcement teams in order to “effectively face the challenges presented by counterfeiting in the digital age.” The “interagency intellectual property council” and "specialized IP crime task force" should be “sufficiently” funded, which according to Canadian copyright scholar Michael Geist would require hundreds of millions of tax dollars.

The report, entitled Counterfeiting in the Canadian Market: How Do We Stop It?, is the most extreme IP policy document ever released in Canada, Geist wrote in his analysis of the proposals. It was lobbied by major software groups, pharmaceutical companies, content providers, the Canadian Recording Industry Association and the Motion Picture Association. Over the past several years, the group lobbied two similar reports: “A Roadmap for Change” by the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network in 2007 and “A Time for Change” by CIPC in 2009.

Meanwhile, the controversial ACTA treaty, which is on the brink of being rejected by European Parliament, is facing another day of global protests. On June 9, more than 120 Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement actions are planned to take place around the world, including protests in Canada, the US, Japan, and many cities in Europe.