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Bell Calls for CRTC-Backed Website Blocking System and Complete Criminalization of Copyright in NAFTA

Bell, Canada’s largest telecom company, has called on the government to support radical copyright and broadcast distribution reforms as part of the NAFTA renegotiation. Their proposals include the creation of a mandated website blocking system without judicial review overseen by the CRTC and the complete criminalization of copyright with criminal provisions attached to all commercial infringement. Bell also supports an overhaul of the current retransmission system for broadcasters, supporting a “consent model” that would either keep U.S. channels out of the Canadian market or dramatically increase their cost of access while maintaining simultaneous substitution.

The Bell positions were articulated at hearing this week of the Standing Committee on International Trade on NAFTA (I appeared earlier in the week before the same committee).

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September 22, 2017 11 comments News
Reunión con la Ministra de Asuntos Exteriores de Canadá, Chrystia Freeland by Presidencia de la República Mexicana (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/UU5Fdp

Canada’s NAFTA IP and E-commerce Priorities: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on International Trade

The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade has been conducting hearings on the NAFTA negotiations. I appeared before the committee yesterday on a panel that included the dairy industry, food and beverage sector, and my comments on IP and e-commerce. The MPs showed considerable interest in both IP and e-commerce, asking questions about notice-and-notice, fair use, copyright balance, the public domain, and the privacy implications of the e-commerce chapter.  My opening remarks are posted below.

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September 19, 2017 5 comments News
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Why Copyright Term Matters: Publisher Study Highlights Crucial Role of the Public Domain in Ontario Schools

The Ontario Book Publishers Organization recently published a study funded by the OMDC on the use of Canadian books in English classes in Ontario Public and Catholic schools from Grades 7 to 12. The study surveyed teachers and school boards on which books (including novels, short story collections, creative non-fiction, poetry and plays but not textbooks) are taught in English classes. The goal was to see whether Canadian books were included in class lists. The survey generated hundreds of responses (27 from school board participants and 280 from the Ontario Teachers Federation) resulting references to 695 books by 539 authors.

The OBPO argued that the takeaway from the study is that Canadian books are not well represented in Canadian classrooms since less than a quarter of the mentions referred to a Canadian work and none of the top 10 works were Canadian. While that suggests that there is considerable room to increase the presence of Canadian works in the classroom, the data in the study can be used for other purposes. Working with Sydney Elliott, one of my research assistants, we reviewed the OBPO data to identify the presence of public domain works in Ontario classrooms (ie. the use of works for which the term of copyright has expired).

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September 14, 2017 1 comment News
Notice and Notice notice

Why Has the Government Failed to Act on Copyright Notice-and-Notice When Internal Docs Raise Abuse and Fraud Concerns?

Canada’s copyright notice-and-notice system has been the subject of controversy and misuse since the moment it launched in 2015.  The system was intended to educate the public on copyright and reduce infringing activity through awareness (experience indicated the approach worked), but has been misused by copyright owners who have used it to send millions of settlement demands to unsuspecting Canadians.  The misuse of the system was even the subject a question to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during question period earlier this year.

While fixing the problem should be relatively easy – new regulations could prescribe precisely what may be included in the notice or there could be a prohibition on including settlement offers or demands within the notices – but the government has dragged its feet on the issue. The Conservatives knew there was a problem, but instead chose to prioritize extending the term of copyright for sound recordings after a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign. The Liberals have similarly not acted on the issue, putting Copyright Board reform ahead in the queue.

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September 13, 2017 4 comments News
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The NAFTA E-commerce Chapter: Ensuring the New Chapter Reflects Canadian Priorities

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland outlined Canada’s NAFTA negotiating objectives in talk earlier this week, identifying the need to modernize NAFTA so that “all sectors of our economy can reap the full benefits of the digital revolution.” I posted yesterday on how the IP chapter could be used to level the playing field for innovation. This post discusses how the new e-commerce chapter, which will be the most obvious manifestation of a modernized NAFTA, offers the opportunity to address an increasingly important aspect of modern cross-border commercial activity.

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August 17, 2017 5 comments News