The International Intellectual Property Alliance urged the U.S. government on Feb. 11 to add Canada to its list of bad actors when it comes to protecting intellectual property. If the U.S. Trade Representative agrees, Canada would join such perennial mainstays as China and Russia on its annual Priority Watch List.
The IIPA recommendations are part of the government's yearly review of copyright piracy and market access problems around the world. For the 51 countries reviewed by IIPA, estimated losses to piracy hit $18.4 billion in 2007. The USTR is expected to announce its annual intellectual property watch lists in April.
"Canada joins China and Russia this year as countries of the greatest concern to the copyright industries," IIPA's Eric H. Smith said in a statement. "While there have been a few positive developments in these key markets over the year, the bottom line is that piracy levels have not come down at all or only marginally, and in some countries the situation has grown worse."
In an IIPA report sent to the USTR, the group claims Canada is "almost alone" among industrialized nations in not upgrading its intellectual property laws.
"Canada has taken no meaningful steps toward modernizing its copyright law to meet the new global minimum standards of the WIPO [World Intellectual Property Organization] Internet Treaties, which Canada signed more than a decade ago," the report states. "Its enforcement record also falls far short of what should be expected of our neighbor and largest trading partner."
The report finds fault with Canada's border controls, enforcement resources, enforcement policies and a "seeming unwillingness to impose deterrent penalties on pirates."
The IIPA said it was encouraged last year when Canada's parliament acknowledged problems with the country's intellectual property legal framework. However, the report notes, the political promises did not translate into law, with the exception of legislation aimed at curbing camcording of movies.
"The piracy picture in Canada is as bleak as it was a year ago," the report states. In one form or another, Canada has appeared on intellectual property watch lists every year since 1995. Only two other of the United States' largest trade partners‑China and South Korea‑have been on the lists as often as Canada.
"To underscore U.S. insistence that Canada finally take action to address the serious piracy problem it has allowed to develop just across our border and that it bring its outmoded laws up to contemporary international standards, IIPA recommends that Canada be elevated to the Priority Watch List in 2008," the report states.