[JURIST] The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) [official website] on Thursday added Canada [JURIST news archive] to its Priority Watch List [text, PDF] of 12 countries that are not adequately protecting intellectual property rights [USTR press release]. In its 2009 Special 301 Report [text, PDF], the USTR also elevated Algeria and Indonesia to the list and removed South Korea. Canada has been added to the list because it "has not delivered on these commitments by promptly and effectively implementing key copyright reforms." No other Western Democracy is on the list. USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk [official profile] said:
As U.S. right holders, businesses, and workers suffer losses from international piracy, counterfeiting, and other forms of IPR theft, the Special 301 Report provides a critical policy tool for focusing on urgent problems that undermine one of America’s great strengths in the global economy – our innovation and creativity. … In this time of economic uncertainty, we need to redouble our efforts to work with all of our trading partners – even our closest allies and neighbors such as Canada – to enhance protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the context of a rules-based trading system.
Canada has previously been criticized as one of the worst violators of US copyright law. Last year, the US-based International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a consortium of seven trade associations representing 1,900 US companies producing and distributing copyrighted materials, said that Canada was one of the worst violators [JURIST report], along with Russia and China, which are also on the USTR priority list. The IIPA found that the number of violations had increased over the past year due to what it called the "explosive growth of online and mobile piracy." In June, Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice [official profile] introduced new federal copyright legislation [press release] in the House of Commons [Parliament of Canada website]. The reforms would update the existing law [Copyright Reform Process website] by taking into account new technologies developed over the last decade and setting tough new penalties for uploading and downloading copyrighted material and breaking "locks" on protected devices like cellphones and DVDs. The bill is currently moving through the legislative process.