Is Putting Canada on a Priority Watchlist Going to Backfire?

A few days ago, we highlighted the USTR Special 301 report and briefly mentioned how Canada was put on a priority watchlist. Now, it’s starting to look like putting the country on the priority watchlist could backfire.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

If there’s any indication on what the intention is putting Canada on a priority watchlist, one doesn’t have to look much further than a copyright industry press release mentioning the news. In short, the idea is to shame Canada into importing draconian copyright laws to have their name cleared. Unfortunately for the copyright industry, as brilliantly highlighted by one columnist, it seems to be having the opposite effect.

“The latest Obama administration move against Canada is to designate us among the world’s worst offenders in failing to crack down on those ripping off movie and music artists through wide-open illegal copying.” Writes Don Martin.

“That’s ridiculous. Anyone who has trolled the markets of other blacklist members such as Indonesia,” Martin adds, “Pakistan or China knows full well their very public piracy epidemic is simply not matched in Canada, the only Western country on the U.S. list.”

He also says that the current US administration is becoming a big threat to Canada – particularly with the latest move of putting Canada on a priority watchlist. Though, it should be noted that the copyright industry have huge lobbying power in things such as who gets put on a watchlist for copyright infringement.

“I have the sense” Michael Geist commented, “that the decision to include Canada in a group with China, Russia, etc. may ultimately backfire as it undermines whatever credibility the report might have had.”

Geist concludes, “Rather than embarrassing Canadians (as CRIA’s Graham Henderson suggested) it seems more likely to leave them doubting the validity of the U.S. demands.”

It’s pretty easy to see it. Instead of embarrassing Canada, the addition to the priority watchlist could also serve to irritate Canadians because they know that it’s unfair to consider Canada to be as bad as China in terms of copyright infringement. It’s not entirely necessary to have watched the issues at hand to get a sense that Canada is being internationally bullied by the US-based copyright industry with claims that are much more anecdotal rather than fact based.

The first time statistics were used to shame Canada, one only had to look at the different claims to realize that none of the statistics were consistent and relied on little more than… well… guess work. While a similar thing happened more recently, the numbers, again, failed to add up when comparing the Canadian statistics to the world-wide statistics. Indeed, Michael Geist noticed this while using different numbers to to show the same thing.

Ultimately, the credibility of the priority watchlist has been greatly undermined by the copyright industry itself and it would be a bad idea to treat the priority watchlist with any amount of seriousness – especially given that it has repeatedly failed to hold water for Canada. Now, it’s doing little more than angering and alienating Canadians as well.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

2 Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: