Bill Patry today has an interesting post on the politics of the current Canadian copyright reform discussion, noting, in particular, the ‘bullying’ of the ‘International’ Intellectual Property Alliance (International in the same way as World Series Baseball, by the way, as Patry points out). Bill’s final point is, I think, a good one:

The intense, negative reaction of Canadian citizens to IIPA’s efforts is well-taken. Why any government would want to adopt approaches that have been admitted to be a dismal failure in the U.S. by the law’s own ardent author, and that are not required by the WIPO treaties is a mystery.

I think what interests me about what is going on in Canada is exactly that – the ‘intense, negative reaction’. I think, in part, this kind of intense, negative reaction is, as Patry points out, because the relevant laws have not been proven to work at all. I also think the reaction happens for reasons that Michael Geist points out in his ‘Why Copyright’ talk – it’s about the effects that harsh copyright laws can have – on creativity, on fun stuff that people like to do, on free speech; it’s about the mismatch between copyright law on the one hand, and ‘the real world’ and the possibilities of technology that we can all see on the other.

It’s worth pointing out, though, that there’s a broader geopolitical context to this. In part, the ‘intense, negative reaction’ is a reaction against the high-handed, ignorant, contemptuous attitude of the US – US industry in the form of the IIPA, and the US government in the form of the USTR – an attitude that says that unless your law looks exactly like ours, it must be inadequate – oh, and by the way, we have nothing to learn from you; your laws could not possibly be as good as ours. I think that the copyright debate – because it is one in which that attitude is taken to extremes – crystallises a more general concern about the US ‘attitude’, as illustrated in its lobbying and trade negotiations and treaty negotiations – to the rest of the world. Similarly, I think that the copyright push by US industry and government has broader geopolitical costs to the US – it is feeding anti-American sentiment. A colleague and I have outlined this in excruciating detail in a recent paper, and I’m seeing the same thing happen in Canada.

On a positive side, it’s rather good to see some US companies in Canada pushing on the other side. That might help limit the damage to US interests more generally.

Update: see also Howard Knopf.