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Courtroom One Gavel by Joe Gratz CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) https://flic.kr/p/bkUna

Voltage Pictures Launches Canadian File Sharing Lawsuit With Reverse Class Action Strategy

Voltage Pictures, which previously engaged in a lengthy court battle to require Canadian ISPs to disclose the names of alleged file sharers, has adopted a new legal strategy. This week, the company filed an unusual application in federal court, seeking certification of a reverse class action against an unknown number of alleged uploaders of five movies using BitTorrent (The Cobbler, Pay the Ghost, Good Kill, Fathers and Daughters, and American Heist). The use of reverse class actions is very rare in Canada (only a few have been reported). There were attempts to use the mechanism in copyright claims in the U.S. several years ago without success.

The Voltage filing seeks certification of the class, a declaration that each member of the class has infringed its copyright, an injunction stopping further infringement, damages, and costs of the legal proceedings. Voltage names as its representative respondent John Doe (linked to a Rogers IP address). It admits that it does not know the names or identifies of any members of its proposed class, but seeks to group anyone in Canada who infringed the copyright on one of the five movies. Voltage does not say how many people it has identified as infringing its copyright. It urges the court to issue an order to stop the infringement and to assess damages to be paid by each person.

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April 28, 2016 8 comments News
Canadian Officials Admit TPP IP Policy Runs Counter To Preferred National Strategy

Canadian Officials Admit TPP IP Policy Runs Counter To Preferred National Strategy

Today is World IP Day, which marks the creation of the World Intellectual Property Organization. Canadian policy has long preferred the use of international bodies like WIPO to advance its IP objectives, yet the intellectual property provisions in recently concluded trade deals such as the TPP and CETA run counter to Canadian strategy. That isn’t just the opinion of the many critics of those agreements. It is what government officials told International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland as part of her briefing materials.

The briefing document on intellectual property and the trade agenda, released under the Access to Information Act, leaves little doubt that trade officials are well aware that the Canadian position on IP in the TPP is inconsistent with our preferred position and that it will lead to IP trade deficits. The document states:

Canada’s preferred strategy is to establish international IP rules through multilateral forums such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, in the context of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Canada negotiated trade obligations that, while reflective of recent domestic reforms, are beyond those standards set through multilateral forums, and which will likely require amendments to domestic practice, such as in the areas of geographical indications (GIs) and patent protection for pharmaceuticals.

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April 26, 2016 1 comment News
Liberal MP Navdeep Bains (Mississauga--Brampton South) chats with Young Liberals of Canada Vice President Communications-elect Braeden Caley and youth delegates by Michael Ignatieff (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/6jzCBK

Why Federal Leadership on Universal Broadband is a Need, Not a Want

With one week still remaining in the federal telecommunications regulator’s hearing focused on the state of Internet access in Canada, the process has taken a surprising turn that ultimately cries out for leadership from Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development.

Jean-Pierre Blair, chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), opened the hearing two weeks ago with a warning: even if an ideal speed target could be identified, there was no guarantee of regulatory action. Blais urged participants not to confuse “wants” with “needs”, a framing that suggested the goal of the hearing was to identify the bare minimum Internet service required by Canadians.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the remarks attracted immediate headlines that the Commission would not guarantee basic Internet speeds. The CRTC insists that only comments on the public record count, but it is obvious that the commissioners pay close attention to media commentary and social media postings.

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April 25, 2016 2 comments Columns
Braille by Roland DG Mid Europe Italia (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8wYdZy

Canadian Copyright Bill for the Blind in Need of Fine Tuning

As the political world was focused on the Liberal government’s inaugural budget last month, Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, introduced his first bill as minister by quietly moving ahead with plans to reform Canadian copyright law to allow for the ratification of an international treaty devoted to increasing access to copyrighted works for the blind.

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s Marrakesh Treaty expands access for the blind by facilitating the creation and export of works in accessible formats to the more than 300 million blind and visually impaired people around the world. Moreover, the treaty restricts the use of digital locks that can impede access, by permitting the removal of technological restrictions on electronic books for the benefit of the blind and visually impaired.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the Canadian decision to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty is long overdue. The Conservatives announced plans to do so in last year’s budget but waited to table legislation days before the summer break and the election call. With that bill now dead, the Liberals have rightly moved quickly to revive the issue.

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April 19, 2016 2 comments Columns
Get Satisfaction: Tips for engaging citizens in gov 2.0 by opensource.com (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9rjVhc

Intervening at the CRTC: Nothing Encourages Participation Like Background Checks and Legally Mandated Undertakings

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s hearing on basic telecommunications services launched earlier this week with the Commission continuing its effort to engage the public with an open discussion forum that will allow for comments to placed on the record (comments outside of the CRTC universe – op-eds, blog posts or social media comments do not count). While CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais has emphasized his interest in hearing from Canadians, the recent experience of Concordia University professor Fenwick McKelvey highlights how more work is needed to remove barriers that may inhibit independent experts from participating in the process.

McKelvey told me he was very happy to participate, yet consider the barriers faced by academics or other independent experts seeking to contribute to the CRTC process. First, McKelvey (along with other academic intervenors) faced questions from Telus about their background, expertise, and funding. Telus demanded that each answer the following questions:

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April 13, 2016 6 comments News