The TPP and Canadian copyright, privacy

The TPP and Canadian copyright, privacy

Since the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was made public on November 5th, critics have scoured the 6000-page trade deal to determine how it will affect Canada.  Diverse voices, from businessman and RIM founder Jim Balsillie, to University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, have criticised the deal as a policy failure and detrimental to Canadian copyright and privacy legislation.  The terms have been dictated by the United States, and the U.S. is pressuring Canada to sign the deal.  During Prime Minister Trudeau’s first formal meeting with President Obama, Mr. Obama stated: “We are both soon to be signatories to the TPP agreement,” although Mr. Trudeau maintained his government’s position that a final decision will not be made ahead of planned Parliamentary hearings.

Some of the copyright implications are:

  • The extension of copyright term to life-plus-70 years - a blow to the public domain which Ottawa lawyer Howard Knopf estimates will cost Canadians $454 million annually
  • New criminal provisions to Canada’s digital lock rules
  • Canada has been allowed by the U.S. to keep its “notice-and-notice” policy for Internet providers (as opposed to the more draconian “notice-and-takedown”), but on the condition that no other TPP country may adopt it
  • Canadian policies that promote user-generated content (commonly known as the Mash-up Exception), limit statutory damages, or establish consumer exceptions are all missing from TPP
  • Intellectual property protections for each country-code domain

On the privacy side:

  • Domain name registrant information must be disclosed
  • Restriction of legislative initiatives that require storage of personal information in Canada or that limit data transfers outside the country – meaning that your data could be under scrutiny by the U.S. which provides fewer privacy protections to foreigners

The TPP is sure to be a high-priority order of business for the government after Parliament opens on December 3rd.

For more information, contact Melanie Wrobel in the Copyright Office or call 250-391-2652.


Blatchford, A. (2015, November 8). Jim Balsillie fears TPP could cost Canada billions and become worst-ever policy move: Businessman says deal contains 'troubling' rules on intellectual property. CBC News – Business.

Curry, B. (2015, November 19). Obama expects TPP approval from Canada after first meeting with Trudeau. The Globe and Mail.

Dingman, S. & Dobby, C. (2015, October 7). Tech and the TPP: What’s at stake for Canada’s innovation sector. The Globe and Mail.

Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Canada. (2015, October 1). Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Geist, M. (2015, November 18). Why the TPP is a Canadian digital policy failure. [Web log post]

Geist, M. (2015, October 14). How the TPP puts Canadian privacy at risk. [Web log post]

Katz, A. & Kandinov, L. (2015, October 28). TPP trades away our constitutional rightsThe Toronto Star. 

Knopf, H. (2015, November 17). The cost of Canadian copyright term extension capitulation in the TPP: estimates based upon New Zealand studyExcess Copyright [Web log post]