Archive for March, 2013

Cave or Cancel?: The Future (or End) of the Canada – EU Trade Agreement

Last November, Maclean’s columnist Paul Wells wrote a piece on the Canada – EU Trade Agreement in which he expressed doubt about the ability to conclude the deal (“Everybody connected to the negotiations assures me there will be a deal. Every public sign I see makes me think there won’t.”). I was skeptical about the prospect of years of negotiations falling apart and expected the political level meetings in November to wrap things up.  They didn’t.  Last month, International Trade Minister Ed Fast and his European counterpart Karel de Gucht tried again.  Still no deal.

While Fast wants everyone to believe that momentum is building toward an agreement, it clearly is not. Over the last year, Canada’s lead lawyer on the negotiations resigned, Canada’s lead agricultural negotiator was re-assigned, and the EU’s lead negotiator has added the EU – Vietnam agreement to his responsibilities with rumours that he will head the EU – Japan trade talks. Fast says he won’t negotiate the agreement in the media and then proceeds to do exactly that by staking out positions on agriculture and investment. The same business groups that have been lobbying for the deal issue a public letter on the agreement that does little other than promise “future support.”

All of this adds up to missed deadline after missed deadline. In 2010, officials said the deal would be completed in 2011.  In early 2011, they said it would be completed by the end of the year.  By late 2011, the deadline had moved to 2012.  Yet it is now 2013 and Fast admitted this week that there may not be an agreement this year. 

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March 15, 2013 5 comments News

What’s Really Behind Canada’s Anti-Counterfeiting Bill?

With only limited fanfare, earlier this month Industry Minister Christian Paradis introduced Bill C-56, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. Since no one supports counterfeit products – there are legitimate concerns associated with health and safety – measures designed to address the issue would presumably enjoy public and all-party support. Yet within days of its introduction, the bill was the target of attacks from both opposition parties and the public.

The NDP raised the issue during Question Period in the House of Commons, accusing the government of trying to implement the widely discredited Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) “through the backdoor.” The public also picked up on the issue, noting that the bill appears to be less about protecting Canadians and more about caving to U.S. pressure (the U.S. called on Canada to implement ACTA on the same day the bill was tabled).

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the concerns associated with the bill fall into two main categories: substance and ACTA implementation. The substantive concerns start with the decision to grant customs officials broad new powers without court oversight. Under the bill, customs officials are required to assess whether goods entering or exiting the country infringe any copyright or trademark rights.

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March 13, 2013 11 comments Columns

What’s Really Behind Canada’s Anti-Counterfeiting Bill

Appeared in the Toronto Star on March 9, 2013 as What’s Really Behind Ottawa’s Anti-Counterfeiting Bill? With only limited fanfare, earlier this month Industry Minister Christian Paradis introduced Bill C-56, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. Since no one supports counterfeit products – there are legitimate concerns associated with health and […]

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March 13, 2013 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive

Canipre Admits It’s Behind Voltage-TekSavvy File Sharing Lawsuits With Speculative Invoicing Scheme

Canipre, a Montreal-based intellectual property rights enforcement firm, has admitted that it is behind the Voltage file sharing lawsuits involving TekSavvy in what is described as a “speculative invoicing” scheme. Often referred to as copyright trolling, speculative invoicing involves sending hundreds or thousands of demand letters alleging copyright infringement and seeking thousands of dollars in compensation. Those cases rarely – if ever – go to court as the intent is simply to scare enough people into settling in order to generate a profit.

Canadian Business reports that Canipre’s goal is to import the speculative invoicing strategy to Canada and that it found a willing partner in Voltage Pictures. Canipre collected thousands of IP addresses that are alleged to have downloaded Voltage films and Voltage is now asking the Federal Court to order TekSavvy to disclose the subscriber names linked to the IP addresses.

The Canipre admission is important because it is consistent with arguments that the case involves copyright trolling and that the Federal Court should not support the scheme by ordering the disclosure of subscriber contact information.

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March 12, 2013 29 comments News

National Post Appears to Drop Fair Dealing Licensing System

Last week I wrote  about the National Post seeking $150 licences for posting short excerpts online. It appears that the paper has now dropped the system.

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March 12, 2013 1 comment Must Reads