Archive for September 25th, 2007

Broadcasting Policy for a World of Abundance

My regular technology law column (Toronto Star version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) focuses on the recent firestorm sparked by the broadcasting reform report commissioned by the CRTC and written by Laurence Dunbar and Christian Leblanc.  The Canadian Association of Broadcasters characterized the report's recommendations as an assault on the foundation of Canadian broadcasting. In this instance, the broadcasters are correct. The report is indeed an assault on the regulatory foundation of Canadian broadcasting – one that is long overdue.

Canadian broadcast regulation was designed for a world of scarcity where broadcast spectrum and consumer choice was limited.  This led to a highly regulated environment that used various policy levers to shelter Canadian broadcasters from external competition, limited new entrants, and imposed a long list of content requirements and advertising restrictions.  As a result, a dizzying array of regulations kept the entry of new broadcast competitors to a minimum, enshrined genre protection so that Canadians were treated to domestic versions of popular channels such as HBO and ESPN, and firmly supported simultaneous substitution, a policy that allows Canadian broadcasters to simulcast U.S. programming but substitute their own advertising.

Yet today's broadcasting environment is no longer one of scarcity, but rather one of near limitless abundance as satellite, digital channels, and the Internet now provide instant access to an unprecedented array of original content.  

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September 25, 2007 1 comment Columns

Two Opinions on Lawful Access

Former federal Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski is back with an opinion piece in the National Post on lawful access, while Clayton Pecknold, co-chair of the law amendments committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police pens a defense of lawful access in the Victoria Times Colonist.

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September 25, 2007 2 comments Must Reads

TJX Breach Was Preventable

So say the Federal and Alberta Privacy Commissioners.

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September 25, 2007 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

Industry Minister to Meet with Telcos Over Spectrum

Reuters reports that Industry Minister Jim Prentice will be meeting with the major telcos this week to discuss the forthcoming spectrum auction.

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September 25, 2007 1 comment Must Reads

Copyright and the Throne Speech

While Canadian Heritage Copyright Policy may be undergoing some uncertainty, that is not stopping some copyright lobby groups from pushing the government to include copyright in next month's throne speech.  In one of the oddest releases in memory [can't seem to find it online yet], four industry groups – CRIA, Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA), Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA), and Music Managers Forum (MMF) Canada, have called on the government to feature copyright, including WIPO ratification, in the forthcoming legislative agenda.

The strangest part of the release is the vision put forward by these four groups.  There are no musicians, performers, songwriters, or copyright collectives to be found (the absence of consumers is a given).  Of course, the release fails to mention that Canadian musicians stand against WIPO ratification, while CRIA is in the middle of litigation in which it opposes the collectives and is trying to reduce the amount of compensation they receive.  In other words, it is an industry view of a music industry without musicians.

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September 25, 2007 2 comments News