Jesse Brown: Obama the copyright cyberbully

By Jesse Brown, CBC technology columnist:

The Obama administration has placed Canada on the United States’ copyright blacklist. Under Bush, we were on their “Watch List.” Now we’re on the “Priority Watch List.”


So what makes us a “priority”? It can’t be the numbers - even data provided by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (a lobby group who applaud Canada being blacklisted) shows software piracy levels in Canada are lower than in any other country named on either list.

Can it be because we’ve let pirates run rampant? Unlikely. As Michael Geist points out, we’ve come down harder (and dumber) on “piracy” than most countries in the world, and have some of the slightest (and stingiest) fair use exceptions around.

So what then puts us on the same list as China and Russia when it comes to copyright abuses?

One thing and one thing only: we have yet to copy America’s failed Digital Millenium Copyright Act. We have failed to replicate laws that allow record companies to sue children for downloading music. We have stalled on our vow to stumble down the same idiotic path that America has.

We didn’t do this on purpose - former Industry Minister Jim Prentice tried hard to push through a bizarre and punitive copyright bill that he himself could not explain. It would have happened too, if it were not for pesky public outrage followed by a peskier prorogue of Parliament.

But Prentice’s successor, Tony Clement, is now holding the bag and facing enormous pressure from none other than Barack Obama and Joe Biden to make the same mistake twice, only this time for keeps.

Word is that Clement is a sharper guy than his predecessor - someone who actually understands the technology he’s legislating the use of. It’s time for him to prove it by standing up to this latest round of Presidential pressure by asking Canadians what kind of copyright works for Canada, not what works for her bully.