The U.S. Trade Representative said today that it has elevated Canada to its copyright protection-focused Priority Watch List for the first time, saying the country urgently needs to reform its copyright laws.
Canada joins notorious piracy hubs such as China, Russia, India, Thailand and Venezuela. There are 12 countries on the Priority Watch List.
Industry trade group the Entertainment Software Association promptly issued a statement applauding the decision made by President Barack Obama's administration. "Canada's weak laws and enforcement practices foster game piracy in the Canadian market and pave the way for unlawful imports into the U.S.," said ESA CEO Michael Gallagher.
The move by the U.S. Trade Representative comes as part of its annual Special 301 Report
(pdf), which reviews the "adequacy and effectiveness" of intellectual property protection by U.S. trading partners.
The Special 301 report said there is a "high level of cooperation" between the U.S. and Canadian governments, and Canada has promised to reform its copyright protection laws. But despite the apparently good intentions on the part of Canadian officials, "...The Government of Canada has not delivered on these commitments by promptly and effectively implementing key copyright reforms," the report read.
The ESA said that the games industry has "repeatedly" asked Canada to reform its policies and practices regarding copyright circumvention devices such as mod chips, online piracy, improved border measures and general anti-piracy enforcement efforts.
Canada is home to many high-profile game studios, a fact that Gallagher said should motivate the country to get its piracy laws up to speed.
The U.S. Trade Representative hopes Canada will implement appropriate legislative changes "without the need for a court order."