February 14, 2007 - The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) is a coalition of U.S. software, music, and movie producers working to protect the copyrighted materials of its members. Our own industry support group, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), is a member of the IIPA, and is thus part of an effort to convince the U.S. government to add Canada to a blacklist of countries the IIPA believes are soft on copyright infringement.
The IIPA alleges Canada's copyright laws are antiquated and do not provide sufficient protection for intellectual properties in the digital age. It is not illegal to videotape a movie in a theatre in Canada, for instance, and mod chips that allow pirated software to play on a game console are a thriving business in the country.
IGN spoke with Danielle Parr, Executive Director of ESA Canada, who told us her organization has been wrestling with the Canadian government over this issue for the ten years it has been in existence. Parr says the previous Prime Minister, who was replaced one year ago, was particularly unyielding on the matter, but that current PM Stephen Harper has been more open to discussions.
If the Bush administration agrees to blacklist Canada the country will join Russia and China on a list of 'pirates' who might face challenges with the World Trade Organization and possible sanctions. The U.S. placed Canada on a lower-priority watch list three years ago, but the IIPA is recommending the country be moved up to the 'priority watch list.'
"Canada's long tenure on the Watch List has had no discernible effect on Canadian copyright policy," the IIPA argued in its submission to the U.S. government. "Consequently, IIPA believes that [the United States Trade Representative] should elevate Canada to the Priority Watch List as a concrete expression of U.S. disappointment that the Government of Canada has given insufficient priority to this crucial item of unfinished business.
"At a time when every other developed country and major U.S. trading partner has made significant progress toward modernizing copyright legislation to respond to the challenges of an ever changing technological universe, Canada's failure to do so is particularly striking, and should elicit a commensurate reaction from the U.S. government."