America to Canada: "Our Corporations Can't Exploit All Your IP Laws Yet—So Change Them" | Bleader

America to Canada: "Our Corporations Can't Exploit All Your IP Laws Yet—So Change Them"

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Apparently Canadian businesses are feeling some hurt as state and local governments in the U.S. pass "Buy American" laws requiring them to contract with American firms for infrastructure work rather than hire foreign companies. The Globe and Mail reports that an American representative from the Canadian American Business Council—headed by Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer and U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson—has offered Canada a way to get some of that American taxpayer money back: change Canada's intellectual-property laws to better suit American interests.

Here's that representative, Scotty Greenwood, speaking on a panel at a trade meeting in Ottawa this week:

"If Canada would just do it tomorrow. . . . Link it. Say: 'OK. We hear you on copyright. We wanted to do it forever. We will do it tomorrow if you a deal on Buy American,' Gary Doer and David Jacobson would be shaking hands in this room tomorrow," she said.

Canadian IP law has been an annoyance to American entertainment companies for a while now. It's simply not strict enough for their tastes. Past efforts by the RIAA and MPAA to tighten it up have included financially backing Canadian politicians amenable to passing more stringent IP laws, but so far they've had little success. According to the Globe and Mail the U.S. has "added Canada to its blacklist of countries with lax laws preventing the piracy of intellectual property," which is something I wasn't aware of before.

Ironically the major labels have been making a lot of news this week for their own exploitation of Canadian copyright law. What triggered this overdue attention was that the estate of jazz legend Chet Baker joined a class-action lawsuit against the Canadian arms of the four major record labels. It's been common practice for decades for the labels to release music in Canada and, instead of paying the artists the money they're owed, put their names on a "pending" list that basically says that they'll get the money once the labels track them down.

Currently the pending list has more than 300,000 songs on it, including tracks by hard-to-find artists like Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce. Estimates of how much the labels owe start at $50 million and go up to $6 billion. The ironic cherry on top of this irony sundae is that the latter figure was calculated using the $20,000-per-infringement figure that the RIAA likes to use against file sharers.

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