Apparently, Canada’s copyright laws needs need to be overhauled because, after all, we’re a haven for digital pirate – at least that’s how the copyright-crazed Americans like to describe us.

Last year, the federal government started to introduce legislative reforms that would have brought Canadian copyright laws a lot closer to those in the U.S. This plan was skewered by a huge roar of protest, led by Michael Geist’s Facebook group, which attracted more than 90,000 members. Eventually, the PCs saw the light and backed down.

The latest sad chapter in Canada’s copyright reform were three reports released recently by the Conference Board of Canada. Unfortunately, they were badly flawed pieces of work. Geist exposed the reports as:

“deceptive, plagiarized report on the digital economy that copied text from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (the primary movie, music, and software lobby in the U.S.), at times without full attribution. The report itself was funded by copyright lobby groups (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, Copyright Collective of Canada which represents U.S. film production) along with the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.”

The Copyright Board responded by suggesting Geist’s scathing criticism was inaccurate.

But in a stunning reversal, the Conference Board has now recalled the three reports – Intellectual Property Rights in the Digital Economy; National Innovation Performance and Intellectual Property Rights: A Comparative Analysis; and Intellectual Property Rights—Creating Value and Stimulating Investment.

After an internal review, it “determined that these reports did not follow the high quality research standards of The Conference Board of Canada”.

Translation: The Conference Board hired some contractors to do the reports, and they f@#$#@ked up. So, they’ve been forced to pull the reports rather than continue to insist everything is fine.

What this public relations disaster demonstrates is Canada’s needs a vibrant, inclusive, comprehensive and impartial review of our copyright laws. We need a process that looks at how Canada can have legislation and policies that protect the rights of content owners, while providing enough flexibility, scope and room to support and jump-start innovation.

To encourage a proper discussion of copyright reform, mesh is offering to host a debate on this issue. We’re asking the Conference Board to send two of the report’s authors to join in that debate – one to take the affirmative side of each of those two propositions.

Representing the “No” side of these propositions will be Dr. Geist, and Mike Masnick, the founder of Floor64 and the Techdirt blog. Both are long-standing friends of mesh and well respected for their valuable contributions to public discussion of these issues.

More information on our proposal, can be found on the mesh blog. As well, check out Rob Hyndman’s blog post on the reports, which he describes as “intellectual dishonesty”.

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