Archive for February, 2016

Copy Taste by Maik Meid (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/ezjkBi

Fairness Confirmed: Copyright Board Deals Another Blow to Access Copyright

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2012 copyright pentalogy that strongly affirmed the importance of user’s rights and the need for a broad, liberal interpretation for fair dealing, Access Copyright insisted that the decisions did not mean what they said. While educational groups developed reasonable fair dealing guidelines based on the decisions (along with earlier decisions such as the CCH case and the inclusion of education within the fair dealing purposes in 2012 reforms), Access Copyright argued that the copying required its licence and that fair dealing guidelines based on general percentages could not be used.

Last Friday, the Copyright Board of Canada issued its latest decision on the application of fair dealing to educational copying, providing yet another resounding blow to Access Copyright’s view of copyright. The Board created a tariff for copying in K-12 schools that was a fraction of what the copyright collective had wanted. It initially asked for $15 per full time student. By the time the issues had been fully assessed, the Board granted a tariff of $2.46 per student for 2010-2012 and $2.41 for 2013-2015. That rate is not only far lower than Access Copyright had demanded, but is nearly half of what was previously certified for the period from 2005-2009 (which was set at $4.81). The Board minced no words in explaining the reduction:

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February 22, 2016 8 comments News
The Trouble With the TPP, Day 34: PMO Was Advised Canada at a Negotiating Disadvantage

The Trouble With the TPP, Day 34: PMO Was Advised Canada at a Negotiating Disadvantage

Price of Entry, one of the early Trouble with the TPP series posts, discussed some of the conditions of entry for Canada into the TPP negotiations. These included the absence of “veto authority”, which meant that Canada could not hold up any chapter if it was the only country opposing a provision. This ultimately had a significant impact on the intellectual property chapter, where Canada had little choice but to cave on several issues.

Conditions of entry were not the only disadvantage faced by the Canadian negotiators. According to an internal email I recently obtained under the Access to Information Act, Canadian officials were aware that they were at a disadvantage relative to the U.S. in the late stages of the negotiations. The email dated July 9, 2015, was sent to Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s lead TPP negotiator, and Christine Hogan, the International Trade Deputy Minister. It notes that the U.S. had cleared access to the full negotiating text for a wide range of advisors, including business groups and public advocates, but infers that Canada had not done the same. It continues:

I hope the political side lets you do something similar or at least hold technical briefings, or the US will effectively drive the narrative and put you at a disadvantage.

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February 19, 2016 21 comments News
Migraine Meds by Tanya (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/eaDjxg

The Trouble With the TPP, Day 33: Setting the Rules for a Future Pharmacare Program

Earlier Trouble with the TPP posts focused on the health care implications of the agreement, focusing on patent term extensions, biologics protection, and limits on medical devices and pharma data collection. There is another health-related aspect of the TPP worthy of examination, but it is easy to miss. Chapter 26 of the TPP addresses transparency and anti-corruption, which is not the place you would expect to find provisions with a direct impact on health care. Yet Annex 26-A contains a full section on “transparency and procedural fairness for pharmaceutical products and medical devices.”  What does this section do?  The key aspect is to establish mandatory requirements for a national pharmacare program:

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February 18, 2016 3 comments News
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Yachts and Helicopters?: Why All Stakeholders Should Be Concerned By Blais’ Blast

CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais traveled to Toronto yesterday to deliver a speech to the Canadian Club on television news in an era of change. The talk laid out his vision for the future of communications policy in Canada and feistily defended recent CRTC decisions for broadcast and the Internet. While there is much to like about Blais’ vision – CRTC skeptics will be surprised by the forward-looking approach – it will be lost in the chair’s unnecessary attacks on the industry’s efforts to slow the pace of regulatory change and use of the appellate process.

Blais’ speech tackles many of the big communications of the moment. He notes the need for more aggressive broadband targets and the real-world impact of leaving even a few percent of Canadians without Internet access. He rightly identifies the benefits of the forthcoming broadcast changes, including pick-and-pay and small cheaper basic packages. He argues that the days of simultaneous substitution are coming to an end (and not just for the Super Bowl), noting “squeezing every last drop of profit out of simultaneous substitution and rented, made-in-America content is no longer sustainable.” He is sensitive to the concerns on local television news, but warns of the dangers of government interference in the industry if independence is lost through direct funding mechanisms.

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February 18, 2016 4 comments News
See you in 2021 by Amerhadi Azmi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8kfRXD

The Trouble With the TPP, Day 32: Illusory Safeguards Against Encryption Backdoors

The news that the U.S. government has obtained a court order requiring Apple to assist law enforcement to break the encryption on an iPhone owned by one of the San Bernadino terrorists has sparked widespread concern. There is some debate over the scope of the judicial order – Techdirt points out that the order does not require Apple to break its encryption but rather allow the government to “brute force” the password without deleting the data – but it is clear that the goal is to limit the effectiveness of the encryption protections found on the popular device. Apple has issued a public letter stating its view that this is a dangerous precedent that could be repeated over and over again. Indeed, if a U.S. court can issue such an order, there is seemingly nothing to stop other governments from doing the same.

What does this have to do with the TPP?

The U.S. has suggested that the TPP would address these issues, claiming that the agreement:

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February 17, 2016 10 comments News