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Montréal, QC (Maison Radio-Canada) by JasonParis (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9NmGLZ

The Internet is not an ATM: My Appearance at the Senate Transport and Communications Committee on Broadcast and Telecom Reform

Earlier this week, I appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Transportation and Communications alongside Carleton professor Dwayne Winseck to discuss broadcast and telecom reform. The Senate study, which largely mirrors the government’s broadcast and telecommunications reform panel, is expected to run into 2019 with a broad mandate that covers everything from affordable access to net neutrality. The discussion was similarly wide ranging with discussion on the failings of the CRTC, the lack of telecom competition, and on the need for real data in assessing the impact of the Internet on the cultural sector.

My opening statement focused on the danger of treating the Internet as equivalent to the broadcast system, the realities of how the Canadian cultural sector is succeeding online, and how policy makers ought to respond the changing landscape for communications in Canada. It is posted below.

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September 21, 2018 2 comments News
Bryan Adams by Derek Hatfield (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/67j7jp

Cuts Like a Knife: Bryan Adams Calls for Stronger Protections Against One-Sided Record Label Contracts

Canadian artist Bryan Adams placed copyright in the spotlight on Tuesday, appearing before the Canadian Heritage committee to make his case for copyright reform. Adams attracted widespread media coverage, though the big music industry groups such as Music Canada were conspicuously silent with not even a tweet to mark the appearance. Why the cold shoulder from the Canadian music industry to one of Canada’s best known artists? The obvious answer is that Adams sang from a far different songbook than the industry lobby groups. While those groups have been pushing for copyright term extension and a so-called “value gap” that bears little reality to Canadian law, Adams expressed artist frustration with the industry and one-sided contracts, noting that “I don’t even want to start naming the names of people who have had their copyright whisked from underneath their feet from contracts that they’ve signed as youngsters.”

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September 20, 2018 2 comments News
Facebook Copyright by Bernard Goldbach https://flic.kr/p/a5K9eE (CC BY 2.0)

Supreme Court of Canada on Copyright Notices: Identification of IP Address “Not Conclusive of Guilt”

The initial emphasis on last week’s Supreme Court of Canada’s copyright notice decision has focused on how Internet providers can pass along the specific costs associated with subscriber disclosures beyond those required for the notice-and-notice system to rights holders. The ruling rightly restores the notice system back to its intended approach, but it is not the only takeaway with implications for the recent flurry of file sharing lawsuits. While there has been a huge number of claims filed in Canada (with some surprisingly large settlements), the Supreme Court acknowledged important limitations in notice claims, noting that merely being associated with an IP address is not conclusive of guilt.

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September 18, 2018 10 comments News
Supreme Court of Canada Chamber by Sean_Marshall (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/Fb3RmX

Notice the Difference?: Supreme Court Rules ISPs Can Be Compensated for Copyright Costs

Policy makers have long struggled to strike a fair balance in crafting rules to address allegations of copyright infringement on the Internet. Copyright owners want to stop infringement and the right to pursue damages, Internet subscribers want their privacy and freedom of expression rights preserved in the face of unproven allegations, and Internet providers want to maintain their neutrality by resolving the disputes expeditiously and inexpensively.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that the Canadian system for online infringement was formally established in 2012 and came into effect in 2015. The so-called “notice-and-notice” approach grants rights holders the ability to send notifications of alleged infringement to Internet providers, who are required by law to forward the notices to the relevant subscriber and to preserve the data in the event of future legal action. The system does not prevent rights holders from pursuing additional legal remedies, but Internet providers cannot reveal the identity of their subscribers without a court order.

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September 17, 2018 5 comments Columns
Secretary Pompeo Meets With Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland by US Department of State, US government work, https://flic.kr/p/24iZVEm

Compromising on Culture?: Why a Blanket Culture Exception in NAFTA is Unnecessary

As the NAFTA negotiations continue to inch along, one of the remaining contentious issues is the inclusion of a full cultural exception that would largely exclude the Canadian culture industries from the ambit of the agreement. The government has not been shy about speaking out against compromising on culture, noting the perceived risks of provisions that might permit foreign ownership of media organizations. Indeed, the culture issue has attracted considerable attention, with coverage pointing to media ownership rules and simultaneous substitution policies as hot button concerns. Yet as cultural groups cheer on the government’s insistence that cultural policy should be taken off the NAFTA table, the reality is that there remains plenty of room for compromise. This post focuses on three of the biggest issues: foreign ownership, simultaneous substitution, and the TPP culture exceptions.

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September 13, 2018 2 comments News