U.S. coalition wants Canada blacklisted over bootlegging


WASHINGTON -- A powerful coalition of U.S. software, movie and music producers is urging the Bush administration to put Canada on a blacklist of intellectual-property villains, alongside China, Russia and Belize.

Canada's chronic failure to modernize its copyright regime has made it a global hub for bootleg movies, pirated software and tiny microchips that allow video-game users to bypass copyright protections, the International Intellectual Property Alliance complains in a submission to the U.S. government.

The time has come for the United States to send a stern warning to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, which has failed to deliver on a promised overhaul of copyright laws and a policing crackdown, said the Washington-based group that represents companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Paramount Pictures.

"The industry groups feel very strongly that we need to ratchet this up," said the alliance's legal counsel, Steve Metalitz.

"The disturbing thing is that the Canadian government doesn't seem to take this very seriously."

He pointed out that the Harper government hasn't even drafted new copyright legislation.

The United States first placed Canada on a lower-priority watch list three years ago. Elevating Canada to the "priority watch list," as the U.S. industry now wants, would put it among a select group of notorious copyright pirates, such as Belize, Venezuela, China, Turkey, Indonesia, Ukraine and Russia.

Once Canada is put on notice, failure to address U.S. concerns could result in trade challenges at the World Trade Organization, plus possible sanctions.

Officials at Industry Canada, which oversees copyright laws, would not directly address the U.S. industry's concerns Tuesday, nor would they say when new legislation might be ready.

"The government of Canada is working actively on the copyright file and will take the time necessary to ensure that revisions to this important framework legislation have been fully thought through," Industry Canada spokesman David Dummer said.

The complaint says Canada has emerged as "a leading exporter" of bootlegged copies of the latest movies as well as so-called mod chips, which are used to circumvent anti-piracy technology built into popular video-game consoles.