Archive for November 21st, 2007

All I Want For Christmas is a Legal TiVo

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, The Tyee version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) focuses on the fact that there is nothing under Canadian law that clearly permits home recording of television programs.  I note that TiVo claims that its service is available in Canada, yet few retailers carry the product. In fact, notwithstanding the growing popularity of PVRs and the ubiquity of VCRs – the CRTC estimates that 700,000 Canadian households own a PVR and Statistics Canada reports that over 10 million households have video cassette recorders (VCR) – the absence of the TiVo is not the only difference between the U.S. and Canadian markets.  In the U.S., using TiVos and VCRs is clearly legal.  In Canada, it is not.

While it may come as news to many Canadians that they infringe copyright on daily basis, those involved in the industry are well aware of this state of the law.  The law includes a series of copying exceptions that cover research, private study, and criticism, however, there is nothing that clearly permits home recording of television programs.  Indeed, the delayed introduction of the TiVo or the Slingbox, another popular product that allows consumers to transfer their television programs over the Internet to their computer and which only entered the Canadian market last year, may stem in part from fears about the legal climate.

Ottawa has regularly introduced legislation demanded by lobby groups (new laws against camcording in movie theatres and Internet rebroadcasting have been passed over the past five years), yet nothing has been done to address the legality of commonplace, non-commercial activities that affects millions of Canadians. 

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November 21, 2007 11 comments Columns

The Data Game

The CBC's The National featured a lengthy story by Keith Boag this evening on the collection and use of personal information by Canada's political parties. I was interviewed for the story, which highlights the use of detailed databanks with virtually no legal oversight. The story appears about midway through the […]

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November 21, 2007 1 comment Must Reads

German Public Broadcaster Adopts CC License

The Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), a public radio and television broadcaster belonging to Germany’s national broadcasting consortium ARD, has announced that it will begin to use creative commons licenses for some of their programs.

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November 21, 2007 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

UK Music Retailers Urge Labels to Drop DRM

The Financial Times reports that the UK's Entertainment Retailers Association is urging the major record labels to drop DRM, arguing that "it is stifling growth and working against consumer interests."

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November 21, 2007 3 comments Must Reads