Tuesday, July 18, 2006

G8 Lobbying

The G8 has issued a declaration entitled Combating IPR Piracy and Counterfeiting.

This declaration was the result of a well-orchestrated effort by American and British lobbyists who were very influential in St. Petersburg.

A collection of the usual lobbying suspects in Canada (including CRIA, CMPDA, CMPA, and CAAST) has issued a press release congratulating the Canadian governmnet on signing on and indicating - in their all too frequently misleading fashion - that:
Furthermore, we look forward to the Canadian government fulfilling these commitments as soon as possible in order to better protect intellectual property in the digital age. The introduction and passage of new federal copyright legislation will be a key step to fulfilling the commitments.
(emphasis added)

These Canadian lobby groups are largely branch plants of their American masters.

There is, of course, nothing in the G8 statement that requires Canada to enact any legislation.

Speaking of international obligations, only two of the G8 countries - the USA and Japan - have yet ratified the 1996 WIPO Treaties. Canada continues to meet and exceed its international IP obligations - unlike the USA which has been found to be in serious contravention at the WTO of its copyright obligations and is clearly unable or unwilling to do anything about it. People who live in glass houses...

Speaking of piracy, these organizations behind the Canadian press release - particularly the music and computer software industries - have a very expansive, elastic and invasive notion of what they mean by “piracy”. It would catch just about every home and business in Canada.

The injection of IP into the G8 agenda reflects the enormous efforts being devoted to preserving fat margins and failing business models though massive government intervention in the form of ever increasing levels of IP protection. This will actually impede the progress of technology, international development and access to knowledge. Hopefully, Canada’s new Government will see through this and do what’s best for Canada.

IP is a big issue between the US and Russia, and a problem for Russia in terms of entry into the WTO. But one would have thought that there are much more urgent matters affecting the public interest of the planet for the G8 as a whole to worry about.

I keep reminding certain lobbyists to be careful about what they wish for. Elevating IP to this level may seem like a short term victory - but flying too high with politics and IP can be dangerous.


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