The United States Trade Representative today placed Canada on the U.S. “Priority Watch List” for failure to maintain effective intellectual property protection and enforcement. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) applauded the decision, which follows recommendations made by it and other industries that depend on strong intellectual property protection.
“Putting Canada on the ‘Priority Watch List’ is a signal of the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening global intellectual property protection, and its intent to address this issue firmly with the Canadian government,” said Michael D. Gallagher, CEO of the ESA, which represents U.S. computer and video game publishers. “Canada’s weak laws and enforcement practices foster game piracy in the Canadian market and pave the way for unlawful imports into the U.S.”
The game industry has repeatedly called on Canada to remedy the legal and enforcement deficiencies in its intellectual property regime, in particular to:
- Enact legislation outlawing game circumvention devices, such as “mod chips” and “game copiers,” in line with Canada’s international treaty obligations;
- Create adequate legal incentives for internet service providers (ISPs) to work with copyright owners in combating online piracy;
- Provide Customs officials with adequate authority to make ex officio seizures of counterfeit and pirate product at the border; and,
- Provide adequate resources to anti-piracy enforcement efforts and make prosecution of intellectual property crimes a high priority.
“Canada contributes significantly to the development of today’s leading games -- creating thousands of high-paying jobs along the way. We are eager to see Canada become a full partner in protecting these products on the way to market,” Gallagher noted.
Other issues raised by the entertainment software industry this year include rampant piracy through online channels in traditionally strong Western European markets. In studies conducted during December 2008, millions of infringing copies of top game titles were downloaded through peer-to-peer (P2P) networks -- with 53% going to downloaders in Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland.
Canada joins 11 other countries on the U.S. Priority Watch List, including China, Russia, India and Thailand.
In a keynote speech today to the Institute for Policy Innovation’s Fourth Annual World Intellectual Property Day Forum in Washington, DC, Gallagher praised the Obama Administration for its commitment to improving global protections through trade agreements that drive innovation, create products and high-paying jobs. “The steps this Administration takes to promote intellectual property protection and expand E-commerce drive innovation and contribute to job growth. They benefit small to medium sized businesses as well as larger enterprises, and contribute directly to aiding our economic recovery,” he noted.