Thursday, May 28, 2009

Conference Board Volte Face

In a stunning and positive development, the Conference Board of Canada has “recalled” three reports: Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Economy; National Innovation Performance and Intellectual Property Rights: A Comparative Analysis; and Intellectual Property Rights—Creating Value and Stimulating Investment.

It says today on the front page of its website:
An internal review has determined that these reports did not follow the high quality research standards of The Conference Board of Canada.
This is in stark contrast to the reported statements only yesterday of the Conference Board's Vice President Gilles Rheaume, who recites the now recalled report's main conclusion:
"Basically what is happening is that we are a major laggard when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights on the Internet. That is a big issue for us," said Gilles Rheaume, vice-president, public policy at the Conference Board. "We are the illegal file swapping country of the world - the leading country, when you look at Canada compared to other OECD countries.

"It is certainly an issue when we deal with Americans; it is something that is a sore point for them."
One particular point should be made right away. While I am sure that there will be a lot of fall out and follow up from this unfortunate episode, I do hope that the there are no unfair repercussions for whoever at the Conference Board had the good professional sense to retain Professor Jeremy de Beer in the first place. That was a good call. That his good work was subsequently reportedly ignored was not a good call.

Both Professors Geist and de Beer should be commended not only for their substantive work on these issues but for bravely speaking truth to power. We need more of this from other Canadian academics, who should also learn from Michael and Jeremy's outstanding contributions here.


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