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The Canadian Digital Law Decade: The Ten Most Notable Cases, Laws, and Policy Developments

The Canadian Digital Law Decade: The Ten Most Notable Cases, Laws, and Policy Developments

As the decade nears an end, there have been no shortage of decade in review pieces. This post adds to the list with my take on the most notable Canadian digital cases, legislative initiatives, and policies of the past ten years.

1.    The 2012 Copyright Modernization Act

The enactment of the 2012 Copyright Modernization Act in June 2012 brought more than a decade of copyright reform battles to a close and immediately ushered in a new round of debate and lobbying that continues until this day. The reform package was the largest copyright overhaul in years, featuring everything from an expansion of fair dealing (including education as a fair dealing purpose) to protection for non-commercial user generated content to the codification of the notice-and-notice system to legal protection for digital locks. The reforms also legalized longstanding practices such as time shifting, set a cap on liability for non-commercial infringement, and established a new provision to target websites that enable infringement.

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December 19, 2019 1 comment News
0S9A9005 by Vancouver Economic Commission https://flic.kr/p/JcaX2m (CC BY 2.0)

Netflix Data Suggests Streaming Giant Spending One-Third of Canadian Revenues on Film and TV Production in Canada

Earlier this week, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault tweeted that he plans to work with Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains to amend Canadian law to ensure web giants offer more Canadian content, contribute to its creation, promote it, and make it easier to find. The tweet was consistent with the government’s platform and mandate letters that have been pointing to increased Netflix regulation for many months. While there is much to be said about the specifics of each of these regulatory issues – the wisdom of government regulating the Netflix recommendation algorithm, the false “level playing field” arguments, the impact on the company’s 6.5 million Canadian customers among them – it is important to go back to how this debate started with the claims that only regulation would ensure support for film and television production in Canada.

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December 18, 2019 3 comments News
tax by Madeleine Tsoi (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/mMfmxi

Tax Policy Confusion: What Digital Taxes are on the Canadian Government’s Agenda?

Canadian digital tax policy has proven to be one of the most confusing areas of digital policy in recent years. For example, former Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly struggled to convey a consistent position, often alternating between the 2015 electoral commitment of no Netflix taxes and the mounting pressure to implement some form of taxation on Netflix and other tech companies. It would appear that the complexity of the issue remains a challenge, as new Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault issued as series of tweets yesterday that sought to clarify the government’s position. Yet rather than clarify, it highlighted how the government’s position remains somewhat confused.

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December 17, 2019 2 comments News
Happy New Year 2019 by Jon Glittenberg (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/2dQH12q

The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 36: The Year in Canadian Digital Law and Policy

The past year has been an incredibly active one for Canadian digital law and policy with important Supreme Court cases, legislative proposals, committee reports, expert panels, and political promises to reform existing laws and regulation. For this final Lawbytes podcast of 2019, I go solo without a guest to talk about the most significant trends and developments in Canadian digital policy from the past year and think a bit about what may lie ahead next year. I focus on five issues: the “euro-fication” of Canadian digital policy, the debate over the competitiveness of the Canadian wireless market, the many calls for privacy law reform, the future of Canadian copyright reform, and the review of Canadian broadcast and telecom law.

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December 16, 2019 1 comment Podcasts
My Solace - Emily Of New Moon by Susan (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/aJuNCF

Making the Best of a Bad Provision: Why Canada Should Work Toward a Copyright Term Extension Registration Requirement

The agreement on a revised Canada-US-Mexico Trade Agreement this week featured both good news and bad news. Among the positive changes in the revised agreement is the significant changes to the patent provisions, including the elimination of the ten years of protection for biologics. That provision would have required changes to Canadian law and added significant new costs to pharmaceuticals. Moreover, the retention of the Internet safe harbour provision is a win for freedom of expression in Canada as it will help ensure that free speech is not lost in the current rush to regulate Internet platforms.

On the downside, many of the problematic digital trade provisions remain unchanged (they can also be found in the CPTPP so their inclusion does not change much) as does the requirement for a copyright term extension to life of the author plus 70 years. The additional 20 years of protection beyond the international standard found in the Berne Convention will be costly for Canadians with little discernible benefit.

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December 11, 2019 12 comments News