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Canadian Music Industry Seeks New Fees, Content Blocking, and Right to Renegotiate Deals Despite Generating Record Digital Revenues

The global music industry released its annual report this week with data that shows an industry successfully transitioning to digital services. The Canadian market is particularly strong as revenue growth far exceeds global averages. Despite the success, behind the scenes the industry is calling on the government to implement radical copyright reforms that include creating new levies to cover smartphones, requiring Internet providers to block services and report activity back to the industry, and even the power to require renegotiation of commercial deals it no longer thinks are fair.

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April 26, 2018 0 comments News
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Quebec Writers Group Calls for an End to Copyright Exceptions: “Only Where Access is Otherwise Impossible”

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology continues its year-long review of copyright this week with a mix of witnesses from education, libraries, writers, and publishers.  The Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois (UNEQ), which represents Quebec-based writers, appeared yesterday and submitted a brief to the committee with its key recommendations. There are several that will attract attention, including increased damages and an expansion of the private copying levy to cover e-readers, hard drives, and USB keys (a recommendation that may stem from a misunderstanding of the levy which is only for music). However, the most troubling is how the group takes aim at copyright user’s rights.

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April 25, 2018 2 comments News
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Government Response Suggests No Appetite for Canadian Anti-Spam Law Reform

The government released its response to the House of Commons study on Canada’s anti-spam law this week and while one report suggested that reforms are coming, the reality is that there appears to be little appetite for significant change. I wrote about the law’s effectiveness and appeared before the committee as part of the study.  The committee report stopped short of calling for an anti-spam law overhaul, instead recommending clarifications of several provisions in the law.

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April 20, 2018 3 comments News
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B.C. Court Leaves Google Global Takedown Order Intact Pending Full Trial

A British Columbia court has denied Google’s request to vary an injunction requiring it to remove search results from its global index, concluding that a U.S. ruling that did not demonstrate that the removal would result in a violation of U.S. law. The Google v. Equustek case has attracted international attention with the Supreme Court of Canada upholding a global takedown order. That decision noted that it was open to Google to raise potential conflict of laws with the B.C. court in the hopes of varying the order:

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April 20, 2018 3 comments News
Mark Zuckerberg's original Facebook profile by Niall Kennedy (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/apNav2

Be Careful What You Wish For: The Risk of Ceding Online Content Monitoring to Internet Giants

As elected officials place Internet giants such as Google and Facebook under an increasingly intense microscope, the pressure mounts on those companies to play more proactive roles in policing content on their networks. In recent weeks, the demands have come from seemingly every direction: privacy commissioners seeking rules on the removal of search results, politicians calling for increased efforts to address fake news on Internet platforms, and Internet users wondering why the companies are slow to takedown allegedly defamatory or harmful postings.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes Internet companies can undoubtedly do more, but laying the responsibility primarily at their feet poses its own risks as governments and regulators effectively cede responsibility for content moderation and policing to private, for-profit companies. In doing so, there is a real chance that the Internet giants will become even more powerful, limiting future competition and entrenching an uncomfortable reliance on private organizations for activities that are traditionally conducted by courts and regulators.

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April 19, 2018 10 comments Columns