The USTR Special 301 report was released a few days ago and Canada was a month 11 countries placed on a priority watchlist. Unfortunately for the copyright industry, the placement of Canada on that list last year was mainly what discredited the Special 301 report. So how can anyone really treat this seriously?
41 countries were placed on the Special 301 watchlist this year (PDF). Among those that were on the priority watchlist was Canada. Though even just going through the report, it’s baffling why Canada is even on there in the first place. You look at China’s reason for being on the priority watchlist and you get just over 4 pages worth of criticism. You look at Canada and you get 9 (some short) sentences. You then look at a country like Brazil which is on the regular watch list and you get 10 sentences. If you skim down to page 47 of the report, you’ll find a list of “Notorious Markets” both online and offline. Russia is on there multiple times. China is on there multiple times. Canada makes a grand total of zero appearances.
Last year, Canada’s placement on the priority watchlist was significant, but not in ways those involved in the report might have hoped. When Canada was included in the priority watch-list, it drew serious criticism about the report. As a result, this years report is running on very short supply of credibility and it seems that one of the few groups that treat this report seriously are the major record and major movie companies that basically influence the report.
We’d go in to the reasons to discredit the reports reasoning for putting Canada on the priority watch-list, but why re-invent the wheel when Michael Geist pretty much already did an excellent job at punching huge holes in the report.
“In other words,” Michael Geist commented, “the embarrassment is not Canadian law. Rather, the embarrassment falls on the U.S. for promoting this bullying exercise and on the Canadian copyright lobby groups who seemingly welcome the chance to criticize their own country.”
Indeed. Treating the 301 report seriously is like treating the Rhino Party’s promise to repeal the law of gravity seriously. It’s kind of silly at this point.