The government launched its copyright review earlier this week with a Parliamentary motion to send the review to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. I wrote a preview of some of the likely issues, noting the efforts of lobby groups to restrict fair dealing, extend the term of copyright, and target intermediary liability. Yet the letter from Ministers Navdeep Bains and Melanie Joly to committee chair Dan Ruimy, which should be posted online shortly, confirms that the government appreciates the competing perspectives on copyright and the limits of what the law can (or should) do.
Archive for December, 2017
Framing the Copyright Review: Bains and Joly Reference the Public Domain, Flexibility, Open Access and Limits of the Law
The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has released its final report on CASL, Canada’s anti-spam legislation. While some groups pleaded for a legislative overhaul – Scott Smith of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce “urge[d] this committee to take a stand on this legislation and make recommendations for a significant overhaul” – the committee adopted a far more cautious tone, limiting the recommendations on substantive provisions to “clarifications” of the law. The emphasis on clarification (it even appears in the study title) is clearly intentional, stopping short of specifying any precise legislative amendments. I appeared before the committee, arguing that spam and spyware pose real risks and that there is evidence that the law has been effective in reducing spam and improving the effectiveness of electronic marketing.
As the U.S. Retreats, Canada Doubles Down on Net Neutrality: “An Open Internet is Critical to Our Democracy”
As the U.S. Federal Communications Commission prepares to rollback net neutrality protections, the Canadian government has used the controversy to double down on its support for net neutrality safeguards, linking it to democracy, equality, and freedom of expression. I’ve written several posts on how the U.S. decision may impact Canadian Internet users and businesses and noted how Canadian NAFTA negotiators have indicated that they support inclusion of a net neutrality provision within the agreement’s new digital trade chapter.
The Canadian government kicked off its review of the Copyright Act this afternoon with a motion to ask the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to conduct a study on the issue. The formal launch had been expected for months since the 2012 reforms included a mandatory review of the law every five years. Lobby groups have been steadily gearing up for the review, with some hoping to undo some of the balancing provisions of the last reform process or demanding new restrictions. Indeed, restrictions on fair dealing, takedown rules, website blocking, and copyright term extension will undoubtedly figure prominently in the lobby playbook. Yet for millions of Canadians, the copyright review offers an opportunity to ensure that the law meets the needs of education, innovation, consumer rights, and creators with more flexibility in the form of fair use and restoring neutrality on Canada’s restrictive digital lock rules.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade released its detailed study on the priorities of Canadian stakeholders in NAFTA earlier today. I appeared before the committee to discuss intellectual property and digital trade issues in September. The report includes notable recommendations on culture (retain the cultural exemption in NAFTA) and digital rights (ensure that digital trade provisions do not undermine Canadians’ privacy rights or security of their data, a nod to concerns over data localization and data transfer rules). It also features an important discussion on the intellectual property chapter, with clear support for retaining a made-in-Canada approach consistent with international standards.