Archive for February 14th, 2007

In Good Company

The International Intellectual Property Alliance – a group that brings together several U.S. lobby groups including the MPAA, RIAA, BSA, the ESA, and publisher groups, has just released its Section 301 recommendations, a submission to the U.S. Trade Representative that frequently serves as a blueprint for U.S. commentary on intellectual property protection around the world.  The list covers 60 countries, including most of the world's leading economies.  The USTR report, which will be released in April, will likely mirror the IIPA recommendations.

Canada figures prominently on this list and indeed this year it is expected that the U.S. will escalate the pressure by placing us on the Priority Watch List.  The Globe and Mail gives the lobby groups' recommendations front page coverage with dire warnings for Canada (the coverage is matched in other countries – see Taiwan and Thailand as examples).  The IIPA submission on Canada includes a litany of complaints, including the failure to implement the WIPO Internet Treaties, the need for ISPs to play a greater role in dealing with copyright infringement, the need for a camcorder law, and the need for greater enforcement activity.  The IIPA report is particularly critical of Bill C-60, arguing that Canada should "jettison" the approach in favour of something, well, like the U.S. has implemented.  In fact, it incorrectly argues that full compliance with the WIPO Internet treaties requires legislation that matches the DMCA (full TPM protection, ban on devices that can be used to circumvent, limited exceptions).  It also wants the scope of the private copying limited and clear liability for P2P services established.  In fact, it even attacks Bill C-60's tepid distance learning and library loan provisions, arguing that they "would have had a significant detrimental impact on publishers of scientific, technical, and medical materials."

While the IIPA recommendations have predictably led to negative, overblown press coverage in Canada, a little context is needed. The reality is that the majority of the world's biggest economies face similar criticism, including:

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February 14, 2007 28 comments News

The Canadian Net Neutrality Debate

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) discusses the recent revelations that Industry Canada is highly skeptical about the need for net neutrality legislation.  I argue that the need to prevent a two-tier Internet in Canada has never been greater.  The Canadian competitive landscape is dominated by a handful of companies, with the top five providers controlling 84 percent of Canadian Internet connections.  Indeed, Canadian consumers who have access to broadband networks (many communities are still without access) invariably face steady price increases and service limitations from the indistinguishable choice between cable and DSL.

Leveraging their dominant positions, Canadian telecommunications companies have been embroiled in a growing number of incidents involving content or application discrimination. Over the past two years, Telus blocked access to hundreds of websites during a dispute with its labour union, Shaw attempted to levy surcharges for Internet telephony services, Rogers quietly limited bandwidth for legitimate peer-to-peer software applications, and Videotron mused publicly about establishing a new Internet transmission tariff that would require content creators to pay millions for the privilege of transmitting their content.

The government documents uncovered last week confirm that Industry Minister Maxime Bernier is aware of the situation.  

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February 14, 2007 10 comments Columns

Vanity Fair on the Pirate Bay

Interesting piece in the magazine's annual Hollywood issue.

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February 14, 2007 Comments are Disabled Must Reads