Canadian Law Prof Fires Back at U.S. Trade Rep’s Piracy Slap

A day after U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk added Canada to the USTR’s "Priority Watch List" of copyright offenders, Canadians are beginning to fire back.

University of Ottawa law prof Michael Geist writes:

The move is not unexpected, given recent comments from Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Congressional panels as well as the demands from U.S. lobby groups…  (never mind that Canada enacted anti-camcording laws in 2007, introduced C-61 last year, is an original negotiating partner in the ACTA negotiations, joined the U.S. as a third party in the WTO copyright complaint against China, etc.).

Geist also cites the Canadian government’s 2007 objection to pressure applied by the USTR:

In regard to the watch list, Canada does not recognize the 301 watch list process. It basically lacks reliable and objective analysis. It’s driven entirely by U.S. industry. We have repeatedly raised this issue of the lack of objective analysis in the 301 watch list process with our U.S. counterparts.

In a separate post, Geist calls the Priority Watch List designation absurd, noting figures which show Canada’s piracy rate to be quite low compared to other nations:

The IIPA, the lead U.S. lobbyist on international IP matters, has issued a press release on the USTR Special 301 report, welcoming the inclusion of Canada on the Priority Watch List.  Yet the release inadvertently demonstrates why the designation is so absurd…


compare Canada to the remainder of the list.  Canada comes in at 32%… Not only is Canada not even remotely close to any other country on the list, it has the lowest software piracy rate of any of the 46 countries in the entire Special 301 Report… 

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  1. GoodRobotUs says:

    You made that distinction, I didn’t mention either way. The fact remains that Iran is not a Christian country, so trying to judge it by those standards is unfair, because it’s a case of trying to one set of values to a completely different culture, same with this, it’s trying to apply US Commercial values (or lack thereof) to Canadian behaviour, and saying that it is ‘wrong’ because it doesn’t match up.

  2. Parallax Abstraction says:

    Because last year, our country came very close to passing legislation that was very close in scope to the US DMCA.  However, right before it was due to be voted on, the minority Conservative government lost a confidence vote and an election was called.  They did win another minority term but after the election, Jim Prentice, the Minister of Industry who was pushing for the bill was shuffled to another position and the bill effectively died.  This list is a bit of spiteful retaliation which is why you see us on it and not countries like Brazil which have massive piracy problems.

    Parallax Abstraction
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  3. Wolvenmoon says:

    Correction of your correction: Because those countries don’t give a flying flip about what fat cat U.S. lawyers say. They’re too busy with more important matters.

    Our copyright law is utterly ridiculous, the modchip ban is going to sink the industry here. Modchips allowed unhindered homebrew development on the consoles, which meant we raised generations of game devs. Now…we’re just screwed.

    I will not buy securom games. and

  4. Wolvenmoon says:


    It’s a moronic government, albeit the most powerful in the world currently, caving to the demands of multi-billion dollar corporations that see this government as a tool to use to accomplish their own goals.

    Iran is one of the worst places to live if you’re Christian, and a quick google search reveals that that list is not a government sponsored one, or if it is it’s based upon collected statistics by the government.

    Great try, though. Next time distinguish between acts of the U.S. government, and acts of third party groups that live in the U.S.

    I will not buy securom games. and

  5. GoodRobotUs says:

    To be honest, this is like America putting Iran on the ‘Top Ten Worst Christian Countries’ List.

    It judges Canada by rules that don’t even apply to them, and finds them somehow at ‘fault’ for refusing to adopt the same methods as the US does, and makes the arrogant assumption that the US method is somehow the ‘correct’ one.

  6. Speeder says:

    Correction: Because they know that their own theory of each pirated copy is a lost sale is incorrect, and that people in those countries would not buy legal copies anyway even if no pirated copies were avaible.


  7. ZAR says:

    See the difference?

    While the former government was more in the "classic" line of industry corruption (oil, coal, guns & big money banksters), the NEW government is more "modern" (content, media & big money banksters).

    Pretty safe bet that Mr. Biden was chosen specifically BECAUSE of his close ties to the "content mafia".

    And blaming Canada has already become a "classic" – especially, if you cannot fix your own interior political issues and the lobby keeps on pushing. 😉



  8. Michael Chandra says:

    Now that Dark Nexus gave me a link, I have to ask:

    Why Canada, and not Mexico, Brazil, Italy?

  9. Alyric says:

    That’s really an excellent point.

    I’m surprised nobody’s tried that in a courtroom yet.

  10. sqlrob says:

    Problem is the movie industry wants it both ways.

    Copy it to your computer? "Sorry, one copy licensed, can’t do that"

    Disk broke, replace please? "Sorry, you bought the disk, buy another"


  11. Alex says:

    As someone living in the US I have to agree. I was in sixth grade when Bush took office, and while I’m not a fan of either of the Democratic candidates he ran against in 2000/2004 so I can’t say I would have definitely liked what they’d have with the country either, I feel like Bush ran this country into the ground. I was proud of my country as a child and growing up I started realizing that I really don’t have much reason to be proud of it anymore.

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  12. vellocet says:

    Ya, that could have been clearer.

    The Bush administration seems to have taken the US from a role model nation with a lot of clout to a withering shadow of its former glory with seemingly endless complaints that the rest of the world no longer wants to follow them.

  13. lumi says:

    "I don’t think we really care.  Even though I work in the games industry, I know that piracy is not something that can be legislated away. It can however be minimized by having respect for your customers and delivering a good product.  Just look at the guys from Stardock."


    "Sadly, the US is becoming less and less relevant after the Bush administration…I’m not trying to offend Americans.  I’m just saying that you’re not the world leaders you used to be."

    But now I think I’m confused…you’re saying you preferred the Bush administration, or the aftermath of the Bush administration has made the U.S. less relevant on the global stage?  Or am I totally missing your point here? 🙁

  14. Alex says:

    Wait, wait, does that mean that if an animation company makes one of their characters die tragically in a fire, the artist is guilty of murder?

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  15. zel says:

    Ya, since when are cartoons people too?  O.o


    I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

  16. deuxhero says:

    Where was this guy when their cheif justice changed the definition of a person to include "works of the imagination"?

  17. Alex says:


    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  18. sortableturnip says:

    A glove slap in a little old face will Get you satisfaction.

    Glove slap ba-a-beee …

    (Glove slap, baby)

    Glove slap, baby, glove slap!

    Glove slap, I don’t take crap!

    Glove slap, shut your big yap.

    (Oooh, glove baby, that’s where it’s at. Yeah!)

    (Glove, baby, give it a… )



  19. Alex says:

    They aren’t going along with the ESA’s demands of them either. Are you REALLY going to go with an "if you’re not for us you’re against us" policy here?

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  20. Vake Xeacons says:

    That’s exactly what the ESA’s saying.

    "We force DRM on everyone, just to fight piracy, and no matter how it debilitates the gamer’s PC, only pirates will complain."

    My point is, Canada isn’t advocating the anti-DRM movement.

  21. Dark Nexus says:

    No, they’re actually trying to fight pirates up here and not actual customers. 

    There should never be a valid defense for those selling bootleg games, movies or music, and those are the ones they are going after.

  22. Wormdundee says:


    It’s obvious that the anti-piracy spin is just a smokescreen for what the real purpose is. Now I know there are some stupid people in positions of power, but I find it hard to believe that all these companies and organizations don’t see that anti-piracy efforts don’t have any effect on piracy at all. 

    Cmon, everyone knows how much videogame publishers hate second hand sales. You all remember that interview with Reggie right?

    "Consumers shouldn’t need second hand sales because our games are so great. These sales simply hurt the consumer."

    "What if you got a cut?"

    "O yeah, that would be fine then."

    They really really want those sales instead of people buying used copies of new releases for 5 bucks cheaper. And hey, if you can’t transfer your copy of the game to someone else, it makes it a little easier for them right?

    Back in the SNES days, a huge amount of games I played were from trades among friends. Not so much anymore.

  23. Michael Chandra says:

    Would you happen to have a link to the full list? I searched but failed to find something.

  24. Dark Nexus says:

    The full document has more countries listed than just the ones on the priority list.

    Canada, which is now on the priority list, has the lowest percentage of any country on the full list – well lower than several countries not on the priority list.

  25. MechaTama31 says:

    Well, isn’t it kind of natural for them to have the lowest percentage?  I mean, they are the last country to be added so far.  If their percentage had been higher, they probably would have been a higher priority and been put on the list sooner.

  26. Vake Xeacons says:

    So, let me get this straight (correct me if I’m wrong, please).

    First, the US (ala Biden) turn their sights on Canada, with accusations of allowing piracy and copyright infringment.

    Now Canada fires back, and says, not in defense of consumers, but that they’re doing everything they can to fight "pirates" (aka loyal customers).

    The persecution of the consumer has grown that much stronger.

    Am I right?

  27. Mech says:

    This comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone of course. Good job ESA. Proving your uselessness everyday.

  28. Werrick says:

    That’s because the gaming industry considers their "rights" to be more important than actually fulfilling their obligation to their consumer to deliver a product that works as advertised. Instead, it’s so critically important to these fuckers that they protect what they see as theirs that they’re willing to prostitute the quality of their product just to make sure that you arent’ doing something with it that will have zero effect on them anyway.

    Their profits are more important than whether or not their product works properly, which means that they have absolutely no objection to putting DRM on media because, quite frankly, they don’t give a shit if it messes with your enjoyment or ability to play the game or not.

  29. -Jes- says:

    Sad fact:

    Videogame DRM has NOTHING to do with anti-piracy, and EVERYTHING to do with killing off secondhand game sales.

  30. Binarygeek says:

    Bascially because we won’t let our various industries dictate the laws to us we should be on the watch list? Is there piracy in Canada? yes, is there Piracy in the US? of course there is. The problem is more and more companies are getting greedier and greedier and want the consumer to have fewer and fewer rights, my friends have kids, but according to the movie companies he shouldn’t be able to backup his own movies, he has 2 kids, one 2 one 4, how long do they honestly think a DVD lasts in his household? I backup my games, and sometimes Pirating is easier than dealing with 20 layers of DRM protection "well first you need to install secuROM, then you need a key for the game, oh then you have to activate it online, and then every 20 minutes the game connects to the net to make sure you aren’t pirating the game. And the DRM might make it so the game you paid 50 bucks for doesn’t work on your system or it crashes every 10 minutes or if you look at the system wrong, this is just to make sure you’re playing fair and not stealing our game." now I don’t like piracy but who’s to say what Piracy is? In my mind I’d like to purchase a product which actually works on my system without installing tons of background "security apps" without my permission! And for those unaware, installing software which may damage a system in any way,shape or form, without informing the user, is illegal, it’s classed as electronic tresspassing. But hey why should any of us have any legal rights? we are just consumers afterall…


    Psychos will always be psychos; they don’t need video games to help them. -SCOTT RAMSOOMAIR, GameCore interview, Mar. 7, 2005

  31. lumi says:

    As an American game developer, I’d prefer to see our DMCA die in a fire, not see another country (HAI CANADA!) create another one.

  32. vellocet says:

    I don’t think we really care.  Even though I work in the games industry, I know that piracy is not something that can be legislated away. It can however be minimized by having respect for your customers and delivering a good product.  Just look at the guys from Stardock.

    Sadly, the US is becoming less and less relevant after the Bush administration.  All they’re doing now is shaking their fists at us.  Why do you think China and others want a unified global currency?

    I’m not trying to offend Americans.  I’m just saying that you’re not the world leaders you used to be.

  33. Parallax Abstraction says:

    Thank you Mr. Geist for continuing to fight the good fight!  He has been a very vocal opponent to ludicrious copyright initiatives like this perpetrated by greedy US companies trying to protect obsolete business models and he is also on the forefront of our fight for Net Neutrality in Canada as well.  We have several major telcos in this country trying to go Time Warner on people’s Internet service and he has been very vocally fighting against that.  The more the clueless US media industry keeps trying stuff liek this, the quicker they’ll get killed off.

    Parallax Abstraction
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

  34. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Here is how works according to the media industry.

    When you buy a DVD, you are buying a license to use one copy of that movie. By ripping it to your computer, you are making a copy that you have not licensed. The same when you convert it for your iPod. You now have two copies your did not buy a license to use. If you want to watch a copy on your computer or iPod you have to buy a license to watch that movie on those platforms.

    From a consumer’s standpoint, they are not buying a license to use one copy of a movie. They are buying a license to view that movie in their household. If they make a copy of the movie to view on their computer or iPod and still own the original media, they are fine. That is the consumer’s view.

    Personally, I find nothing wrong with that consumer view. To me it seems to be within the relm of fair use. However, if that user copies the movie to their computer and sells off the original media and still retain that digital copy, they are stepping on hot coals. That to me is direct defiance of copyright.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  35. Canary Wundaboy says:

    I get annoyed with DRM. If I buy a DVD, WHY can’t I rip it to my PC to store it safely on my hard drive? Why can’t I stick it on my iPod to watch it on the move? I’ve PAID for the movie once already, why should I pay 3 times just to be able to do what I want with it? Do I get 3 different versions, no, it’s the same damn movie. What justification do they have for trying to make me pay 3 times?

    It’s that sort of stuff that has actually ENCOURAGED me to pirate more and more, at least the uploaders don’t try and dictate how I use the media I get from them!


    Check out my blog –

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