Archive for November, 2011

Will the Government Take Action Against the Memory Card Tax?

ACTRA is in Ottawa this week for a two-day lobby campaign on issues such as cultural funding and copyright. The group will undoubtedly focus on extending the private copying levy to iPods, an issue it has raised in the past. While there is seemingly no prospect of extending the levy to iPods, the question now is whether the government is prepared to take action against the plan to extend it to memory cards.

The Copyright Board of Canada recently established the timing for the hearing on extending the private copying levy to electronic memory storage devices such as SD cards. The hearing will not start until October 2012, but the time for the government to act is now. Given its opposition to the “iPod tax”, it is hard to see how it can possibly support extending the levy to SD cards and other storage devices. In fact, last year Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore specifically referenced memory cards in a debate on extending the levy:

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November 3, 2011 30 comments News

The Daily Digital Lock Dissenter, Day 22: Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives

The Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives represents archives, archivists, and individuals committed to the preservation of archival records in the province. It provided a submission in the national copyright consultation that included the following on digital lock rules: Prohibiting circumvention for legal purposes such as preservation activities by archivists […]

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November 3, 2011 Comments are Disabled News

ACTRA Rep Says Mashups “Morally Wrong”

ACTRA is in Ottawa this week for one of its regular lobbying efforts. Copyright will undoubtedly form part of the effort and will apparently include an unexpected issue. Leah Pinsent is fighting against the Bill C-11 mashup provision, which allows Canadians to create new works for non-commercial purposes with attribution. […]

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November 3, 2011 12 comments Must Reads

The Daily Digital Lock Dissenter, Day 21: Privacy Commissioner of Canada

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has not spoken out on the recent copyright bills, but in 2008 she wrote a public letter to then-Industry Minister Jim Prentice expressing concern “about possible changes to the Act authorizing the use of technical mechanisms to prevent copyright infringement that could have a negative impact on the privacy rights of Canadians.” The Stoddart letter, which came in the aftermath of the Sony rootkit case, stated:

If DRM technologies only controlled copying and use of content, our Office would have few concerns. However, DRM technologies can also collect detailed personal information from users, who often do no more than access the content on a computer. This information is transmitted back to the copyright owner or content provider, without the consent or knowledge of the user. Although the means exist to circumvent these technologies and thus prevent the collection of this information, previous proposals to amend the Copyright Act contained anti-circumvention provisions.

Commissioner Stoddart has not commented on the adequacy of the personal information exception in Bill C-11, but there is reason for concern.

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November 2, 2011 14 comments News

Anti-Spam Law in Limbo as Lobby Groups Seek New Exceptions

Last December, the government celebrated passing eight bills into law, including the long-delayed anti-spam bill. Years after a national task force recommended enacting anti-spam legislation, the Canadian bill finally established strict rules for electronic marketing and safeguards against the installation of unwanted software programs on personal computers, all backed by tough multi-million dollar penalties.

Then-Industry Minister Tony Clement promised that the law would “protect Canadian businesses and consumers from harmful and misleading online threats,” but nearly a year later, the law is in limbo, the victim of a fight over regulations that threaten to delay implementation for many more months.

Although support for anti-spam legislation would seemingly be uncontroversial, various business groups mounted a spirited attack against the bill during the legislative process, claiming requirements to obtain user consent before sending commercial email would create new barriers to doing business online. Passing the anti-spam legislation ultimately proved far more difficult than most anticipated with groups seeking to water down tough provisions and greatly expand the list of exceptions to the general rules on obtaining user consent.

Months later, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports it is déjà vu all over again as the government works to finalize the regulations for the anti-spam legislation and the same groups make many of the same arguments. A call for comment over the summer from both Industry Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (enforcement of the law is shared by the CRTC, Competition Bureau, and Privacy Commissioner of Canada) generated dozens of responses, most of which begin by congratulating the government on passing anti-spam legislation and then proceeded to urge significant amendments.

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November 1, 2011 5 comments Columns