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The Control Room by Jonathan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Why the Supreme Court’s Endorsement of Technological Neutrality in Copyright May Be Anti-Technology

The Supreme Court of Canada issued its long-awaited decision in SODRAC v. CBC today, a case that has major implications for the role of technological neutrality in copyright. As I noted when it was argued before the court, though the case was about whether CBC should be required to pay royalties for incidental copies necessary to use new broadcast technologies, at stake was something far bigger: the future of technological neutrality under Canadian copyright law.  The case offers wins and losses for both users and creators, but the manner in which the court strongly affirmed the principle of technological neutrality runs the risk of actually undermining technological adoption.

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November 26, 2015 2 comments News
Reunión-almuerzo con Líderes de APEC que forman parte del TPP by Gobierno de Chile (CC BY 2.0)

Signing vs. Ratifying: Unpacking the Canadian Government Position on the TPP

The official release of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a global trade agreement between 12 countries including Canada, the United States, and Japan, has generated considerable confusion over where the Trudeau government stands on the deal. The TPP was concluded several weeks before the October election and the Liberals were careful to express general support for free trade, but refrain from embracing an agreement that was still secret.

Over the past month, there have been mixed signals over the issue. Chrystia Freeland, the new Minister of International Trade, has committed to a public consultation and noted that her government is not bound by commitments made by the Conservatives (in the interests of full disclosure, I had the opportunity to meet with Minister Freeland to discuss the TPP earlier this month). Yet following a meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama at the APEC conference in Manila, Obama indicated that he expects Canada to soon be a signatory to the deal.

How to explain the seemingly inconsistent comments on the Canadian position on the TPP? The answer may well lie in the differences between reaching an agreement-in-principle, signing the formal text, and ratifying the deal.  Each step is distinct and carries different legal obligations.

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November 24, 2015 6 comments News
TPP protest at U.S. Trade Representative Office 11-16-2015 by Vision Planet Media (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Why the TPP is a Canadian Digital Policy Failure

The official release of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a global trade agreement between 12 countries including Canada, the United States, and Japan, has sparked a heated public debate over the merits of the deal. Leading the opposition is Research in Motion founder Jim Balsillie, who has described the TPP as one of Canada’s worst-ever policy moves that could cost the country billions of dollars.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that as Canadians assess the 6,000 page agreement, the implications for digital policies such as copyright and privacy should command considerable attention. On those fronts, the agreement appears to be a major failure. Canadian negotiators adopted a defensive strategy by seeking to maintain existing national laws and doing little to extend Canadian policies to other countries. The result is a deal that the U.S. has rightly promoted as “Made in America.” [a video of my recent talk on this issue can be found here].

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November 18, 2015 8 comments Columns
Canada and the TPP: My Talk on a Digital Policy Failure

Canada and the TPP: My Talk on a Digital Policy Failure

Last week, I had the opportunity to deliver the keynote address at a Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) panel on the TPP.  My talk, which begins at 4:25 and runs until 41:00, focused on the digital policies within the massive agreement, including intellectual property, privacy, and Internet governance.  After the talk, there was a panel discussion featuring Myra Tawfik, Warren Clarke, Barry Sookman, and David Lametti.  The full event can be found here and is embedded below.

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November 16, 2015 2 comments News
Gambling by Alan Cleaver (CC BY 2.0)

Quebec Bets on Internet Blocking: New Bill Mandates ISP Blocking of Gambling Websites

The Government of Quebec has introduced new legislation that requires Internet service providers to block access to unlicensed online gambling sites. The provisions are contained in an omnibus bill implementing elements of the government’s spring budget, which included a promise to establish website blocking requirements. The bill provides that “an Internet service provider may not give access to an online gambling site whose operation is not authorized under Québec law.” The government’s lottery commission will establish the list of banned websites:

“The Société des loteries du Québec shall oversee the accessibility of online gambling. It shall draw up a list of unauthorized online gambling sites and provide the list to the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, which shall send it to Internet service providers by registered mail.

According to the law:

“An Internet service provider that receives the list of unauthorized online gambling sites in accordance with section 260.35 shall, within 30 days after receiving the list, block access to those sites.

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November 13, 2015 24 comments News