The following is shortened version of a confidential letter sent by the major sports leagues, National Association of Broadcasters, actors and writers guilds of America and others to the U.S. trade representative. For more details, please see the May 16/02 edition of Canadian NEW MEDIA. We, the undersigned members of the Copyright Assembly, write to express our serious concern regarding legislation pending in Canada that threatens copyright protection in our works carried on television broadcast signals and in the signals themselves and to ask for your assistance in preventing this result. The Copyright Assembly includes representatives of all the major copyright groups, including sports, cable, broadcasting, music, advertising, software, publishing, television programming, film and the creative guilds. The Canadian bill, known as C-48, was intended to amend existing Canadian law regarding the application of an existing compulsory license to Internet retransmission of television broadcasts. Simultaneously with the legislative process, two Canadian ministries are drafting regulations to accompany the new legislation. As currently drafted, the regulations provide grossly insufficient protection to U.S. copyright holders. No doubt encouraged by the pending legislation and regulations, at least one Canadian firm has already announced plans to begin retransmitting broadcast signals containing copyrighted television programming over the Internet in the near future, without obtaining any authorization whatsoever from the U.S. copyright holders of such programming. The net result is that copyright owners will not have the right to control distribution of their broadcasts over the Internet. Together, the members of the copyright community are the largest contributors to the nation’s economy, and their financial viability is crucially dependent on intellectual property protection for their works. In this context, it is difficult to overstate the importance of the exclusive right of broadcasting to the members of the Copyright Assembly and the potential harm that a compulsory license for Internet retransmissions could cause. It could eliminate the copyright holder’s fundamental ability to control the distribution of product licensed to conventional broadcasters – eroding the value of the right holder’s licenses to broadcasters and driving product to other means of distribution not caught by the compulsory license – pay TV, pay-per-view, satellite and cable signals. For broadcasters, it would mean potentially unlimited importation of television programs into their markets for which they have acquired the exclusive local rights. Moreover, as you know, the Internet is global. The compulsory license contemplated by Canada would not only reduce the value of our works in Canada, but would also establish a precedent that would threaten our interests in the United States and around the world. We are aware of no country in the world that permits Internet-based retransmission of copyrighted television broadcasts under a compulsory license. Beyond representing a major trade barrier that threatens our core business, a compulsory license for Internet retransmitters also represents a potential violation of Canada’s international trade obligations under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). The TRIPS Agreement requires that the impact of any compulsory license of rebroadcast rights be limited to Canada. Given that no effective technology for imposing geographic restrictions on access to material available over the Internet has been presented in any verifiable manner in Canada, the effects of a compulsory license granted in Canada for Internet retransmissions would not be limited to Canada – and thus any licenses granted would likely run afoul of Canada’s international obligations. We respectfully request your intervention with the Government of Canada to express the U.S. Government’s serious concern about this draft legislation and its compatibility with Canada’s international obligations.