Archive for January, 2012

Canada Wants Telecom, Culture Off the Table in CETA

Canada’s offer to the Europeans in the Canada-EU Trade Agreement negotiations on several key areas leaked yesterday. The documents reveal that Canada wants both telecom foreign ownership and cultural protections kept out the agreement.

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January 26, 2012 Comments are Disabled Must Reads

Would a SOPA Version of the Canadian Copyright Bill Target Youtube?

My post this week on the behind-the-scenes demands to make Bill C-11, the current copyright bill, more like SOPA has attracted considerable attention with mainstream (National Post, La Presse) and online media (Mashable, Wire Report) covering the story. The music industry alone is seeking over a dozen changes to the bill, including website blocking, Internet termination for alleged repeat infringers, and an expansion of the “enabler” provision that is supposedly designed to target pirate sites. Meanwhile, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada also wants an expansion of the enabler provision along with further tightening of the already-restrictive digital lock rules.

The concern with expanding the enabler provision is that overly broad language could create increased legal risk for legitimate websites. As a result, new online businesses may avoid investing in Canada for fear of potential liability or costly lawsuits. My post cited concerns about SOPA being used to target sites like Youtube and the danger that that could spill over into Canada. Industry lawyer Barry Sookman responds in the National Post article, arguing that it is “inconceivable” and “not remotely possible” that the law could be used to shut down a mainstream site like Youtube.

Millions of Internet users certainly hope Sookman is right, yet recent experience suggests that the content industry is open to using these kinds of provisions in massive lawsuits against sites like Youtube. For example, consider the ongoing Viacom lawsuit against Youtube/Google. 

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January 25, 2012 28 comments News

The Day the Internet Fought Back

Last week’s Wikipedia-led blackout in protest of U.S. copyright legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is being hailed by some as the Internet Spring, the day that millions fought back against restrictive legislative proposals that posed a serious threat to an open Internet. The protests were derided by critics as a gimmick, but my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes it is hard to see how the SOPA protest can be fairly characterized as anything other than a stunning success. Wikipedia reports that 162 million people viewed its blackout page during the 24-hour protest period. By comparison, the most-watched television program of 2011, the Super Bowl, attracted 111 million viewers.

More impressive were the number of people who took action. Eight million Wikipedia visitors looked up contact information for their elected representatives, seven million people signed a Google petition, and Engine Advocacy reported that it was completing 2,000 phone calls per second to local members of Congress.

The protest launched a political earthquake as previously supportive politicians raced for the exits. According to ProPublica, the day before the protest, 80 members of Congress supported the legislation and 31 opposed. Two days later, there were only 63 supporters and 122 opposed.

The SOPA protest ranks as the largest online action to date, but it was foreshadowed by similar developments around the world.

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January 24, 2012 74 comments Columns

The Day the Internet Fought Back

starsopa Appeared in the Toronto Star on January 22, 2012 as The Day the Internet Fought Back Last week’s Wikipedia-led blackout in protest of U.S. copyright legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is being hailed by some as the Internet Spring, the day that millions fought back against […]

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January 24, 2012 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive

Meganomics

Joe Karaganis has a must-read post on the piracy figures involving Megaupload, as he persuasively argues that the profitability of piracy on cloud storage sites is massively overstated.

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January 24, 2012 1 comment Must Reads