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Blame Canada: Our friends to the North make America’s ‘Priority Watch List’ for Internet piracy

Canadian flag waving in the Rockies, from ShutterstockCanada may have free healthcare, an impressive grasp on the French language and Scott Pilgrim, but one thing that it doesn’t have is the self-control to prevent the country being placed on the US Government’s “Priority Watch List” when it comes to online piracy and intellectual property theft.

The United States Trade Representative today published its annual “Special 301 Report,” reflecting what the official release describes as “the Administration’s resolve to encourage and maintain effective [intellectual property rights] protection and enforcement worldwide.” For the third year running, Canada earned a place alongside Russia, India and China on the naughty –sorry, the “priority watch” — list, with the report pointing out the country’s lack of “long-awaited copyright legislation” and calling on the Canadian government to “strengthen its border enforecement efforts, including by providing customs officials with ex officio authority to take action against the importation, exportation and transshipment of pirated or counterfeit goods.”

If you were unaware that Canada was such a hub for bootlegs and pirated material, don’t worry; other countries are still much worse. China not only gets seven pages of the report to itself, but also a mention in the abstract of the report, which specifically mentions “troubling ‘indigenous innovation’ policies that may unfairly disadvantage US rights holders in China” in addition to other concerns with the country’s policies.

Don’t worry; it’s not all bad news. Spain got the thumbs up – Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the US Ambassador’s threat to “downgrade” the country’s trade standing if it didn’t shape up in terms of passing anti-piracy legislation. So did Israel, Malaysia and Korea, with “positive developments” reported for other countries, including problem children Russia and China. Whether or not that offsets the danger lingering right above us at this very minute, of course, remains to be seen.

Image credit: ShutterstockAlexandra Demyanova

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