Friday, April 25, 2008

Uninvited to the Public Policy Forum Symposium

I have now been uninvited to the Public Policy Forum (“PPF”) IP program entitled INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REFORM: INNOVATION AND THE ECONOMY on April 28, 2008, which will now proceed without me on the program.

It seems that strong pressure was brought to bear on PPF to have me removed from the program and that PPF capitulated.

The presentation that I would have made would have been based upon the presentation I gave at the 16h Annual Fordham conference in NYC on March 28, 2008 entitled:


Here is that paper, which documents several weaknesses in American copyright law and some 15 areas in which Canadian copyright law is already stronger and better than American law, many of which result in very substantial outflows of money to the USA. The paper also points out hypocrisy and inconsistencies in American positions on IP, including with respect to the US “301" mechanism. I was also asked to address a some points in patent and trade-marks law.

However, it seems that some interests do not want to hear about these points at this conference. I have done a lot of research in this area, and nobody has suggested that anything in the Fordham paper was inaccurate in any respect. In fact, it was well received.

I had looked forward to debating these points with Glen Bloom in particular on the panel in which I had been included, and others, who will also assuredly take a different point of view. Mr. Bloom is a registered lobbyist for Time Canada Ltd., Warner Bros. Entertainment Canada Inc., AOL Canada Inc., and The Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association.

Since this is a program that could influence the development of Canadian law, I had hoped to provide at least some additional counterbalance to the overwhelming presence of spokespersons for multinational (largely American) based interests who will also include U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins, Michael Shapiro of the USPTO (who asked me two weeks ago for a digital copy of my Fordham paper) , and Perrin Beatty of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which takes a very USTR friendly view of IP matters.

I would have expected more from the PPF, based upon their own language:

The Public Policy Forum's mission is to strive for excellence in government - to serve as a neutral, independent forum for open dialogue on public policy, and to encourage reform in public sector management. Four key factors have distinguished the PPF as a unique organization on the Canadian landscape.

First, the Forum stands resolutely in its belief that high quality government is critical to Canada's quality of life as well as to our prospects as a competitive nation in the global economy. High quality government requires a fundamental commitment to excellence in public policy development and public sector management - a commitment not only by those who govern, but also by business, labour, the academic community, the media, and the voluntary sector.

Second, the PPF has established itself as a neutral, trusted facilitator. It provides a meeting place where diverse and often opposing opinions and interests can be aired openly and debated, and opportunities can be sought for mutual understanding and collaboration.

Third, unlike other public policy organizations, the PPF does not sit in judgment of what government does, but looks at how public policy is developed and how the public service is managed. This approach has enabled it to bring together Canadians from all sectors of society and political viewpoints.

Finally, the PPF lives by its mandate of seeking membership that represents all sectors in Canada.
(Emphasis added)

More in sadness than in anger, I must say that I am disappointed in the PPF for capitulating to pressure in this instance. I am afraid that this episode may prove to be very symbolic of the overwhelming efforts and forces that will be brought to bear on the Canadian Government on the IP front in the future.

Everyone is entitled to their viewpoint. So, it is particularly sad, regrettable and ultimately ironic that an institution such as the Public Policy Forum would permit such blunt interference in the marketplace of ideas in Canada.


PS: Michael Geist and the incredibly widely read BoingBoing are onto this.


  1. Quite the badge of honor. I am envious.

  2. How anyone could take this Forum as credible is beyond me.

    This is like having a debate on Creationism vs Evolution and only inviting the Pope and his Bishops!

  3. This is sad indeed.

    (Sorry to be off topic, but Scott, "the Pope and his Bishops" are not Creationists. This doesn't need an incorrect analogy - it's clear what it is.)

  4. "a meeting place where diverse and often opposing opinions and interests can be aired"

    The prevalence of outright lies like this make it very hard for me to trust anything that sounds balanced or leftist. I constantly fear being hoodwinked by yet another fundie right-wing group who’s message is opposite to its actions.

  5. I'm disgusted with the actions of the PPF, and of those who must have pressured them to uninvite you.

    This will be going into my latest missive to my MP regarding copyright law.

  6. Can you post the actual text of the "uninviting" announcement? I'm sure may of us would like to see it. Thanks.

  7. Well, I have already submitted the story to
    and Slashdot. Any diggers out there, please digg up the story so we can get publicity on this, the way it happened when they tried to slide a new DMCA style copyright bill past us.

  8. How did they "uninvite" you? Did they call you or email you? Did they offer an explanation?

  9. How would you feel about readers writing letters to the PPF? Their contact page is here:

  10. Yes, I also must apologize for this being off topic, but the point anonymous made about scott's comment can not be overstated.

    The Pope, the Catholic church, are not Creationists. I realize that it may have been simply an "analogy from the hip" in trying to make a point, but please try not to promote the misinformation about the Catholic church. There is way, way too much out there already.


  11. This is embarrassing. What are US private industry interests doing preventing an academic from attending a symposium?

    I hope this makes the news- people need to know that they're afraid of what you're saying and would prefer to silence you than answer you.

  12. I just emailed the PPF voicing my concern and asking for a public explanation of their action. I CCed my MP, which one can lookup here:

  13. I'm disgusted with the actions of the PPF, and of those who must have pressured them to uninvite you.Tiffany Necklaces