Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Conference Board of Canada's Deceptive, Plagiarized Digital Economy Report

Michael Geist has a piece about how a Canadian Think-Tank, The Conference Board of Canada, has been caught plagiarizing US copyright lobby group documents in a report on copyright reform. The report was funded by the Canadian copyright lobby as well as by the Ontario government.

The Conference Board of Canada bills itself as "the foremost, independent, not-for-profit applied research organization in Canada. Objective and non-partisan. We do not lobby for specific interests." These claims should take a major hit based on last week's release of a deceptive, plagiarized report on the digital economy that copied text from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (the primary movie, music, and software lobby in the U.S.), at times without full attribution. The report itself was funded by copyright lobby groups (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, Copyright Collective of Canada which represents U.S. film production) along with the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. The role of the Ontario government obviously raises questions about taxpayer dollars being used to pay for a report that simply recycles the language of a U.S. lobby group paper.

It all seems a bit ironic.

The Conference Board of Canada has responded, but the story was picked up by the MSM. Again, according to Michael Geist's blog:

IT Business also covers the story with the only direct information from the Office of the Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson. A spokesperson says that the Government paid $15,000 to the Conference Board to support the report and this week's conference. Spokesperson Grahame Rivers told IT Business that "these are serious allegations. We take any charge of plagiarism seriously. We will be following up and look forward to hear what they [Conference Board of Canada] have to say about this." The story has also attracted huge attention online, with blog postings here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Here's Cory Doctorow's take:

Canadian think-tank that spent tax-dollars plagiarizing US copyright lobby press-materials ignored its own expert's conflicting research

The Conference Board of Canada -- a supposedly independent think tank that took Canadian tax-money to produce a report on the "Digital Economy" that plagiarized press-materials from the US copyright lobby -- ignored conflicting evidence that an independent legal expert produced after they paid him to investigate the subject.
In other words, they went into this project knowing what conclusions they wanted to draw, and ignored everyone -- even their own researchers -- who had anything different to say.


The Conference Board of Canada has responded on their website defending the report and announcing that the report will be presented On Friday, May 29 at a Conference Board conference in Toronto.

Update II:

I've filed an Access to Information Request to the Government of Ontario (Ministry of Research and Innovation) requesting all documents related to the funding of the report.


  1. Ouch, that's weak.

    The Ontario government look like idiots.

  2. "...some of the cited paragraphs closely approximate the wording of a source document."

    Closely approximate???!! Hell, they're word-for-word copies right down to the bullet points. They are not in quotations so they aren't really citations.

    This really makes me sad because it shows an external corporate influence in Canada's affairs that would have Americans screaming if the reverse was true.