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040510 by Dennis S. Hurd (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7QU5gX

CRTC Finds Rogers Engaged in Unjust Discrimination With Its Domestic Roaming Agreements

From seemingly the moment in launched in Canada, Wind Mobile argued that it was being placed at a competitive disadvantage due to unfair roaming agreements with Rogers. As a new entrant, the company was reliant on roaming agreements to offer nationwide service, yet it claimed that Rogers was tilting the playing field against it. Rogers unsurprisingly disagreed.  In a Senate appearance in 2009, the company was asked directly about the issue:

Senator Zimmer: Have you had any requests from new wireless entrants for roaming and tower-sharing agreements, and how have you handled those? What is the progress on these arrangements to date?

Mr. Engelhart: I am glad you asked that question, because we have been reading in the press some grumbling by some of the new entrants, and it has left us puzzled. Mr. Roy and I, mostly Mr. Roy, have successfully concluded roaming agreements with all the new entrants who have approached us, and we did that in a business negotiation that did not need arbitration or enforcement from Industry Canada. We have also provided access to a huge number of our towers to the new entrants. We believe the government policy that requires us to make those facilities available is working, and we are proud of what we have done.

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August 1, 2014 1 comment News
Pay to the order of... by Scott J. Waldron (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/FtDtt

The Battle Over Tariff 8, Part 2: The Recording Industry’s Surprising Opposition to Songwriter, Composer and Music Publisher Streaming Royalties

Yesterday I posted on the battle over Tariff 8, the Copyright Board of Canada’s new tariff for digital music streaming services that the media has suggested could open the door to popular foreign services migrating to Canada. Despite the initial excitement, the Canadian recording industry, led by Music Canada (formerly the Canadian Recording Industry Association) has taken aim at the decision, which its President Graham Henderson argues:

will further imperil artists’ livelihoods, and threatens to rob them of the fruits of their labour in the new digital marketplace. And it will further undermine the business environment, undercutting the ability of labels and other music companies to make future investments in Canadian talent.

As noted in the post, Re:Sound, the collective responsible for the tariff, has filed for judicial review of the decision and Music Canada is urging its supporters to “like” its Facebook protest page, which it says will help win the fight.

There are two things that make the campaign against the decision particularly striking: the industry’s failure to mention to that Tariff 8 is only one of several payments made for music streaming and its opposition to those other payments.

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July 30, 2014 1 comment News
The Battle Over Tariff 8: What the Recording Industry Isn’t Saying About Canada’s Internet Streaming Royalties

The Battle Over Tariff 8: What the Recording Industry Isn’t Saying About Canada’s Internet Streaming Royalties

Over the past month, Music Canada, the lead lobby group for the Canadian recording industry, has launched a social media campaign criticizing a recent Copyright Board of Canada decision that set some of the fees for Internet music streaming companies such as Pandora. The long-overdue decision seemingly paves the way for new online music services to enter the Canadian market, yet the industry is furious about rates it claims are among the worst in the world.

The Federal Court of Appeal will review the decision, but the industry has managed to get many musicians and music labels worked up over rates it labels 10 percent of nothing. While the Copyright Board has more than its fair share of faults, a closer examination of the Internet music streaming decision suggests that this is not one of them.

The Music Canada claim, which is supported by Re:Sound (the copyright collective that was seeking a tariff or fee for music streaming), is that the Canadian rates are only 10 percent of the equivalent rate in the United States. That has led to suggestions that decision devalues music and imperils artists’ livelihood.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues the reality is far more complex.

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July 29, 2014 3 comments Columns
TTIP und CETA: Der Widerstand wächst! by Mehr Demokratie (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/nwokz1

Crumbling CETA?: The Investor-State Dispute Settlement Rules Threaten to Take Down the Canada – EU Trade Agreement

On September 12, 2011, the Council of the European Union issued a 20-page press release that provided updates on the 3109th Council meeting. On page 13, there was single sentence on EU trade policy:

The Council authorised the Commission, on behalf of the EU, to open negotiations on investment with Canada, India, and Singapore within the framework of the ongoing bilateral negotiations with these countries on trade liberalisation.

The Canada – EU trade negotiations had started several years earlier and the late addition of investment did not attract significant attention at the time (the major focus was on the divide over intellectual property and procurement issues). Yet months after Canada and the EU announced that they had reached agreement on CETA, it is the investment provisions, particularly the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) rules, that could seemingly derail the entire agreement.

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July 28, 2014 3 comments News
IMG00329-20100401-1251 by William Marriage (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7Q2uT3

UK ISPs and Rights Holders Agree on Voluntary Notice-and-Notice Style Copyright System

Several years ago, the United Kingdom passed the controversial Digital Economy Act, which included provisions for disconnecting Internet users accused of repeat copyright infringement. That bill generated protests, but ultimately passed. The disconnection provisions never took effect, however, as they were the target of legal challenges. Now reports indicate that the copyright enforcement scheme has been shelved altogether as rights holders and Internet service providers have reached agreement on a voluntary system that looks a lot like Canada’s notice-and-notice approach.

The system involves a maximum of four warning letters to a customer per year.  There is no disclosure of the subscriber information and no threat of loss of Internet service. Rights holders can take further legal action if they so choose. I wrote about Canada’s notice-and-notice system here (which similarly involves notices, no disclosure of personal information, and no loss of service), discussing its effectiveness and warning against the possibility that the Trans Pacific Partnership could be used to override the “made in Canada” approach.

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July 25, 2014 0 comments News