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Blame Canada

February 16, 2009 |  6:05 pm

Canadian_flag The International Intellectual Property Assn., a lobbying group for U.S. copyright owners, released its recommendations today to the U.S. trade representative, and once again it's calling on the government to crack down on that notorious piracy hotbed ... Canada. Specifically, it's asking the Obama administration to add Canada to the "Priority Watch List" alongside Mexico (hey, it's a NAFTA reunion!), Russia, China and other countries with a reputation for disregarding copyrights, patents and trademarks.

The group's complaints about our neighbors to the north fill nearly nine pages, but the executive summary boils them down to these: "ineffective border controls, insufficient enforcement resources, inadequate enforcement policies, and a seeming unwillingness to impose deterrent penalties on pirates." In particular, the IIPA wants Canada to do more to block the manufacture and sale of video game "mod" chips and other equipment to circumvent electronic locks; raise the statutory penalties for unauthorized copying, even when it's done for personal use; crack down on the manufacture and sale of bootlegged DVDs; and require ISPs to take down infringing material upon request, rather than simply passing a notice of infringement on to the customer responsible for it.

The Bush administration resisted the group's previous requests to put Canada in the shunned group. The designation seems more symbolic than anything else; according to the U.S. trade representative, countries on the list are "subject to accelerated investigations and possible sanction." Wow, chilling. But if Hollywood is so concerned about Canada, why does it shoot so many movies and TV shows there? If it really wanted to change the Canadian government's behavior, perhaps it should stop using Toronto's streets in place of New York's. I'm just saying.

-- Jon Healey

Healey writes editorials for The Times' Opinion Manufacturing Division.

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