Copyright War Summit Report: ACTA, WIPO and in Canada

12 June 2009

Howard Knopf, of Excess Copyright, did a presentation for the BrightTalk Copyright War Summit that summed up three important copyright topics: the ever-top-secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and that horrible den of copyright infringement – according to the USTR Special 301 Report – Canada.  (Readers, please be sure tongue is properly inserted in cheek when reading that last part.)


Much talk and speculation have surrounded ACTA since leaks of its existence first began to surface.  Knopf does not get into any of the meat of ACTA (meat can be found here).  Instead, he focuses on the very important issues surrounding the agreement.

One of the biggest concerns is the plurilateral nature of the agreement, the absence of major international organizations like WIPO and the World Trade Organization.  These two organizations traditionally handle international intellectual property treaties, yet they are completely uninvolved with ACTA.  Also missing from the negotiations: developing countries.  There are more developing than developed countries in the world; they are important.

ACTA’s secretiveness comes down to one thing.  It is a lobby-driven effort being propelled forward by music, film and software industries.  These industries don’t want to protect against fake drugs or other ‘counterfeits’; they want ex officio border control measures, customs officials who check iPods for illegally obtained music, and 3 strike ISP rules.

[For more information on the ACTA part of Knopf’s presentation and ACTA in general, see IP JUR.]


WIPO has had its fair share of trials and tribulations during the past decade.  The Treaty for the Protection of the Rights of Broadcasting, Cablecasting and Webcasting Organizations is still just ‘proposed.’  The Audiovisual Performances Treaty is dead in the water.  And the Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons has met with some unexpected opposition.

Yet, Knopf appears hopeful that WIPO is on the mend.  The new Director General, Francis Gurry brings a lot of energy and integrity back to the organization.  Committees continue to meet and move forward on their individual projects and the Treaty for the Blind is still on the table.


Knopf believes (and this Ipper thinks there’s a lot of sense in his argument) that Canada has one of the best IP regimes.  Like Baby Bear’s bed, Canada’s IP laws are not too hard and not too soft.  Canada has a tax on blank media, which compensates rightsowners for media sharing.  There is also wide Fair Dealing (similar to US concept of Fair Use) for educators and librarians, outlined in Canada Supreme Court case CCH 2004.

Knopf also gave a short summary of important marks in copyright’s history: the Statute of Anne, Apollo v. White Smith, introduction of the first portable computers, Sony, Napster, Grokster.

If you’re interested in more about the superiority of Canadian IP law, WIPO’s strength going forward or the controversy surrounding ACTA, you can check out Howard Knopf’s excellent and informative presentation in full at BrightTalk.


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