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Canada seen as the file-swapping capital of the world

Canada's failure to strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) in the face of digital technology has given it an...

May 26, 2009  

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Canada’s failure to strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) in the face of digital technology has given it an unwelcome reputation as the file-swapping capital of the world. 


Stronger intellectual property rights and enforcement are needed to protect new knowledge and shore up Canada’s poor innovation record, according to a series of Conference Board reports, released in advance of its May 29 conference Intellectual Property Rights: Innovation and Commercialization in Turbulent Times.


As a result of lax regulation and enforcement, internet piracy appears to be on the increase in Canada.


The estimated number of illicit downloads (1.3 billion) is 65 times higher than the number legal downloads (20 million), mirroring the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s conclusion that Canada has the highest per capita incidence of unauthorized file-swapping in the world.


Canada has not ratified new global minimum standards of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) internet treaties, and the United States has put Canada on notice for inadequate intellectual property enforcement measures.


“Canada’s innovation performance has been dismal for decades, and the role of intellectual property systems has received inadequate attention. If Canada does not change its approach to intellectual property, its economic outlook will suffer,” said Gilles Rhéaume, vice president, Public Policy at the Conference Board.


“Intellectual property protection is the essential ingredient that allows creators of knowledge to obtain value of their work without it being copied or stolen. Canada is earning a reputation, one that is not to be envied, as the file-swapping capital of the world.”


The Conference Board report, Creating Value and Stimulating Investment: A Business-Level Assessment of the Role of Intellectual Property, recommends increased emphasis on enforcement of IPR regimes. These include: strengthening current IPR protection legislation, giving Canadian Border Services Agency greater authority to deal with counterfeit and pirated goods, combating intellectual property crimes and educating enterprises and consumers about the negative effects of counterfeiting.