Renegotiating NAFTA. It’s not just about softwood lumber.

Criticisms of NAFTA permeated the 2016 American election. Trump declared it the “worst trade deal ever” and Hillary Clinton stated she would “adjust” the free trade deal. With Trump’s success, it is not surprising that politicians will renegotiate NAFTA in mid-August.

While there are many concerns about NAFTA, ranging from dairy to softwood lumber, pundits should not be overlooking intellectual property. A draft piece of American demands, stated NAFTA should build upon international intellectual property norms. This has particular implications for Canada because Canada is somewhat of an intellectual property outlier. Canada permits a copyright exception for user-generated content (e.g. a Youtube video of children dancing to a popular song) created for non-commercial purposes and has shorter copyright protection lifespans.

These NAFTA demands are indicative of a larger trend; how should Canada address free trade agreements’ proposed intellectual property standards. Should Canada alter its laws or express a reservation? It will be interesting what the NAFTA renegotiations lead to.





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