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Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet as Industry Points to Effectiveness of Copyright Notice-and-Notice System

Canada’s copyright notice-and-notice system took effect earlier this year, leading to thousands of notifications being forwarded by Internet providers to their subscribers. Groups such as the Canadian Recording Industry Association argued during the legislative process that notice-and-notice would “pose a long-term problem”, yet the evidence suggested that the system could be effective in decreasing online infringement. Since its launch, there have been serious concerns about the use of notices to demand settlements and to shift the costs of enforcement to consumers and Internet providers. With Industry Canada officials emphasizing that “there is no obligation for Canadians to pay settlement demands,” it is clear that there is still a need for the missing regulations, including a prohibition on the inclusion of settlement demands within the notices.

While the problems with notice-and-notice must be addressed, the leading notice sender says that they are proving to be extremely effective in reducing piracy rates. In fact, the system has proven so successful that a consortium of movie companies now want the U.S. to emulate the Canadian approach. According to CEG TEK, there have been “massive changes in the Canadian market” under notice-and-notice. They claim that piracy rates have dropped by the following rates in Canada:

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May 20, 2015 19 comments News
No Internet by Marcelo Graciolli (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/5h48hK

Missing the Target: Why Does Canada Still Lack a Coherent Broadband Goal?

The foundation of any national digital policy is affordable high-speed Internet access. Given the importance of the Internet to education, culture, commerce, and political participation, most countries have established ambitious targets to ensure that all citizens enjoy access to reasonably priced broadband services.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the importance of broadband is typically taken as a given, but Canadian broadband policy remains discouragingly incoherent and unambitious. The government and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission have different targets, while the government has established relatively slow speed goals that will still leave three-quarters of a million Canadians without access.

The inconsistent broadband goals are difficult to understand. The CRTC’s 2015-2016 Priorities and Planning Report target for broadband access is 5 megabits per second download for 100 per cent of the population by the end of 2015. Meanwhile, the government’s target will take many more years to complete and does not envision universal access.

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May 19, 2015 6 comments Columns
Harper Letter to Music Canada on Budget Day Confirms Copyright Extension the Product of Industry Lobbying

Harper Letter to Music Canada on Budget Day Confirms Copyright Extension the Product of Industry Lobbying

The government’s decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings in the budget may have taken most copyright observers by surprise, but not the music industry. I’ve posted earlier on their extensive lobbying efforts on the issue and how the extension will reduce competition, increase costs for consumers, and harm access to Canadian Heritage. The record of lobbyist meetings gives a hint of the reasons behind the extension, but a letter sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that I recently obtained suggests that it all it took was a letter from Music Canada President Graham Henderson to the Prime Minister.

The Harper letter was sent on April 21, 2015, the day the budget was tabled. It states:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding the copyright term for sound recordings. I have reviewed this material carefully, and share your view that the current term of copyright protection for sound recordings falls short of what is required to protect artists and ensure they are fairly compensated for their work.

Please know that, as announced today in Budget 2015, our Government will extend copyright protection for sound recordings from 50 to 70 years. The extension will be incorporated into the Budget Implementation Act, and will be in effect immediately upon passage of the legislation.

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May 15, 2015 19 comments News
MWC 2011 by Official BlackBerry Images (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9iFrxA

Balsillie’s Call for Patent Troll Reform: RIM Co-Founder Pushes For Made-in-Canada IP Policies

Research in Motion co-founder Jim Balsillie wrote a lengthy article on Canadian innovation policy last week that focused primarily on intellectual property policy. While the article would have benefited from some editing, Balsillie’s core argument is that Canada needs to do a better job of identifying and protecting domestic interests when it is developing intellectual property policy.

There is much to agree with in the Balsillie piece. For example, he rightly criticizes the 2012 Canadian copyright reform bill as primarily a response to U.S. pressure:

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May 15, 2015 0 comments News
THE BATTLE OF COPYRIGHT 2011 by CHRISTOPHER DOMBRES (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9RQRd5

No End in Sight: CISAC Calls for Another Canadian Copyright Term Extension

I’ve written multiple posts on the government’s surprise decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings without public consultation or discussion (surprise, cost to consumers, limited competition, reduced access to Canadian heritage, lobbying impact). In recent days, a further implication has arisen: other groups are now demanding that the government extend other terms of copyright within the law.  If the government agrees to those demands, it would result in all works, including books and music, being locked out of the public domain for decades.

CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, has publicly chastised the Canadian government for not also extending the term of copyright for authors to life plus 70 years. The current term of protection in Canada is life of the author plus an additional 50 years. That meets the standard found in international copyright treaties and is what is used in a wide of range of countries including Japan, New Zealand, China, South Africa. Indeed, the majority of people around the world live in systems with copyright protection of less than life plus 70 years.

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May 14, 2015 4 comments News