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  • Help us build a better Ontario September 14, 2017
    If you live in Ontario, you may have recently been selected to receive our 2017 grassroots poll on vital issues affecting the province. Your answers to these and other essential questions will help us decide what issues to focus on as we head towards the June 2018 election in Ontario. For decades, the CCPA has […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Does the Site C dam make economic sense for BC? August 31, 2017
    Today CCPC-BC senior economist Marc Lee submitted an analysis to the BC Utilities Commission in response to their consultation on the economics of the Site C dam. You can read it here. In short, the submission discussses how the economic case for Site C assumes that industrial demand for electricity—in particular for natural gas extraction […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Ontario's middle and working class families are losing ground August 15, 2017
    Ontario is becoming more polarized as middle and working class families see their share of the income pie shrinking while upper middle and rich families take home even more. New research from CCPA-Ontario Senior Economist Sheila Block reveals a staggering divide between two labour markets in the province: the top half of families continue to pile […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Join us in October for the CCPA-BC fundraising gala, featuring Senator Murray Sinclair August 14, 2017
    We are incredibly honoured to announce that Senator Murray Sinclair will address our 2017 Annual Gala as keynote speaker, on Thursday, October 19 in Vancouver. Tickets are now on sale. Will you join us? Senator Sinclair has served as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), was the first Indigenous judge appointed in Manitoba, […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • How to make NAFTA sustainable, equitable July 19, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is consulting Canadians on their priorities for, and concerns about, the planned renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood point out how NAFTA has failed to live up to its promise with respect to job and productivity […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

Canada’s trade deficit in cultural services

With the Conservatives’ “Born in the USA” Copyright Act now tabled, the fur is flying. A year after leaping to the defence of the oil and gas industry, Terrance Corcoran has got Big US Media’s back (does Terry ever stand up for anyone but the wealthy and powerful?). As always, Michael Giest, who knows way more about copyright than yours truly, has assembled an excellent legal and policy analysis of the Canadian DMCA (here and here).

So I went over to Statscan to find out what our trade balance with the US looks like in this area. It is not surprising that Canada runs a rather hefty trade deficit with the US in cultural services (table 2). Overall, it is a deficit of $300 million, although in one category, film production, we enjoy a surplus due to all of the movies and TV shows shot in Canada. But in the category of interest to the DMCA, “copyrights and related services (royalties)”, we had imports of $879 million in 2005 compared to exports of only $146 million, for a trade deficit of $733 million (ie. this amount leaves Canada and goes into the coffers of Big Media).

Back in 1996, imports for this copyrights category were only $180 million and exports $54 million, for a deficit of $126 million. So the royalties flowing south have grown rapidly, as has our deficit in this sector. Which makes one wonder what all the fuss is all about. The US industry has thrived in Canada over the past decade, with profits up almost five-fold. As capitalists we should expect them to want even more, but that does not mean we should hand it over on a silver platter without anything in return.

The implication of the Canadian DMCA is that it will likely increase that trade deficit by strengthening the rights of copyright owners at the expense of users, shifting a delicate balance that has been struck over the years between private profit and public interest. And with some considerable irony, too, since the Tories are ostensibly about free trade and small government, whereas this legislation is about protecting monopoly rights of foreigners while expanding the powers of the state to invade privacy on behalf of those interests.

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