Canadian Makin'

Canadian Makin'
Pirates of the Frozen Wastes

Andy Chalk | 30 Jun 2009 12:41
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But the failings of the DMCA do afford Canada a luxury the U.S. didn't have: While critics argue that the Clinton administration leaped into a heavy-handed digital copyright scheme without enough consideration for the possible long-term consequences, Canada has unquestionably benefited from the opportunity to observe the American experience that resulted. The chilling effect on a wide range of legitimate behavior - and the fact that many law-abiding citizens are ultimately forced to choose between being deprived of some very basic consumer rights or breaking the law - has not gone unnoticed.

And regardless of the efficacy of the DMCA, American pressure to enact Canadian legislation is somewhat counterproductive. More than a century of sleeping next to an elephant has left Canada with a very fragile national ego, and as a result, a core element of the Canadian condition is a knee-jerk instinct to differentiate ourselves from Americans wherever and whenever possible. It's not a behavior unique to beer-swilling Hockey Night fans, either (which, truth be told, is all of us). Canadian political parties of all persuasions have taken pains over the decades to ensure they maintain a palatable distance from their U.S. counterparts. That habit is so deeply ingrained into our psyche that the mere suggestion of pressure on the political process is enough to raise alarms. Professor Carys described the U.S. model of copyright reform as "not an ideal one" because of its many inherent flaws and heavy predisposition toward copyright holders; many less thoughtful Canadians are more likely to see it as just more American bullying and bullshit.

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Canada has been fairly laissez-faire with regard to intellectual property laws, but it's hard to get around the fact that, in its own clunky way, the system works. There is piracy, yes, but it's fairly consistent with other Western nations. According to the BSA's (Business Software Alliance) 2008 Global Piracy Report, published in conjunction with research firm IDC, Canada's piracy rate of 32 percent is among the 25 lowest in the world, below countries like France (41 percent), Spain (42 percent) and Greece (57 percent) and drastically lower than high-piracy countries like Russia (68 percent), Thailand (76 percent) and China (a staggering 80 percent). Meanwhile, Canada is home to a game development industry that's second to none and a consumer base that enthusiastically supports it. It makes one wonder if, at the end of the day, it's a mistake to think that Canada needs to catch up with the rest of the world. Maybe the rest of the world needs to start paying attention to Canada.

Andy Chalk is a Canadian freelance writer and lifelong videogamer. Check out his column, The Needles, every other Tuesday here at The Escapist, and contact him at andy@escapistmag.com.

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