Hugh Stephens describes himself as an “informed layman” on IP issues based in Canada who makes the case for the US Congress ratifying the USMCA, an important trade agreement that will essentially replace NAFTA.
But–as Hugh notes, the legislation also includes important intellectual property (and copyright) agreements. While Hugh’s post is subtitled “Canada Wins”, I’d suggest that if Canadian artists win, we all win.
In particular, Hugh makes the case that under USMCA, Canada is not required to adopt a version of the obscene US loophole for Big Tech in our Section 230 and also brings its copyright term into the international norm of life plus 70 across the board. Given the recent drubbing that Big Tech lobbyists took in the Canadian Parliament, or in the Heritage Committee’s recent report, one does not get the impression that Canada will roll over on these points in the post-Cambridge Analytica world.
Hugh’s post is an excellent insight into the USMCA benefits, which I fear is about to get lost in the Washington schoolyard as we enter the election abattoir. Here’s a teaser:
[L]et’s assume that ratification will now proceed. This is good news for Canada, since CUSMA/USMCA represents the best chance for relative trade peace with its largest trading partner. Canada fought a rear-guard action to preserve as much of the original NAFTA as possible in the face of Donald Trump’s declaration that the Agreement was “the worst trade deal ever made”. By and large, Canada succeeded and CUSMA/USMCA largely mirrors NAFTA with a couple of tweaks. However, victory is in the eye of the beholder and the new agreement, in Trump’s words, is now, “the most important trade deal we’ve ever made by far”. Among the areas where changes were made were in auto trade, where North American content requirements were raised, and intellectual property.
As I wrote at the time that CUSMA/USMCA was signed, the IP commitments that Canada made in the area of copyright were characterized by some as “concessions” but in fact they will bring significant benefit to Canada’s creative industries. Now a new paper has been published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute on the IP provisions of the USMCA, incorporated in Chapter 20 of the Agreement. Written by lawyer Richard Owens, it is called “Who’s Afraid of the USMCA: Why the Intellectual Property provisions in the US Mexico Canada Agreement are good for Canada and its trading partners”.
Corrigendum: I previously referred to Hugh Stevens as being a lawyer and he corrected me. Sorry for the assumption.