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The Canadian Digital Law Decade: The Ten Most Notable Cases, Laws, and Policy Developments

The Canadian Digital Law Decade: The Ten Most Notable Cases, Laws, and Policy Developments

As the decade nears an end, there have been no shortage of decade in review pieces. This post adds to the list with my take on the most notable Canadian digital cases, legislative initiatives, and policies of the past ten years.

1.    The 2012 Copyright Modernization Act

The enactment of the 2012 Copyright Modernization Act in June 2012 brought more than a decade of copyright reform battles to a close and immediately ushered in a new round of debate and lobbying that continues until this day. The reform package was the largest copyright overhaul in years, featuring everything from an expansion of fair dealing (including education as a fair dealing purpose) to protection for non-commercial user generated content to the codification of the notice-and-notice system to legal protection for digital locks. The reforms also legalized longstanding practices such as time shifting, set a cap on liability for non-commercial infringement, and established a new provision to target websites that enable infringement.

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December 19, 2019 1 comment News
0S9A9005 by Vancouver Economic Commission https://flic.kr/p/JcaX2m (CC BY 2.0)

Netflix Data Suggests Streaming Giant Spending One-Third of Canadian Revenues on Film and TV Production in Canada

Earlier this week, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault tweeted that he plans to work with Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains to amend Canadian law to ensure web giants offer more Canadian content, contribute to its creation, promote it, and make it easier to find. The tweet was consistent with the government’s platform and mandate letters that have been pointing to increased Netflix regulation for many months. While there is much to be said about the specifics of each of these regulatory issues – the wisdom of government regulating the Netflix recommendation algorithm, the false “level playing field” arguments, the impact on the company’s 6.5 million Canadian customers among them – it is important to go back to how this debate started with the claims that only regulation would ensure support for film and television production in Canada.

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December 18, 2019 4 comments News
tax by Madeleine Tsoi (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/mMfmxi

Tax Policy Confusion: What Digital Taxes are on the Canadian Government’s Agenda?

Canadian digital tax policy has proven to be one of the most confusing areas of digital policy in recent years. For example, former Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly struggled to convey a consistent position, often alternating between the 2015 electoral commitment of no Netflix taxes and the mounting pressure to implement some form of taxation on Netflix and other tech companies. It would appear that the complexity of the issue remains a challenge, as new Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault issued as series of tweets yesterday that sought to clarify the government’s position. Yet rather than clarify, it highlighted how the government’s position remains somewhat confused.

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December 17, 2019 2 comments News
My Solace - Emily Of New Moon by Susan (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/aJuNCF

Making the Best of a Bad Provision: Why Canada Should Work Toward a Copyright Term Extension Registration Requirement

The agreement on a revised Canada-US-Mexico Trade Agreement this week featured both good news and bad news. Among the positive changes in the revised agreement is the significant changes to the patent provisions, including the elimination of the ten years of protection for biologics. That provision would have required changes to Canadian law and added significant new costs to pharmaceuticals. Moreover, the retention of the Internet safe harbour provision is a win for freedom of expression in Canada as it will help ensure that free speech is not lost in the current rush to regulate Internet platforms.

On the downside, many of the problematic digital trade provisions remain unchanged (they can also be found in the CPTPP so their inclusion does not change much) as does the requirement for a copyright term extension to life of the author plus 70 years. The additional 20 years of protection beyond the international standard found in the Berne Convention will be costly for Canadians with little discernible benefit.

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December 11, 2019 12 comments News
Best Rubber Stamp by Funky Tee (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/bchhhx

Taking Value out of the Copyright Tariff Process: The Copyright Board’s Access Copyright Post-Secondary Tariff Decision

In March 2010, Access Copyright filed a tariff proposal with the Copyright Board to cover copying at post-secondary institutions in Canada. The proposed rate was $45 per year per university student and $35 per year per college student. The proposal represented a dramatic increase in the fees paid under the Access Copyright licence, which, when combined with Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence on fair dealing in the 2004 CCH decision and the growing investment in digital materials, sparked concern among the Canadian education community. In 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada re-emphasized the broad and liberal approach to fair dealing as user’s right and the government would expand the fair dealing purposes to explicitly include education.

The Access Copyright tariff proposal progressed slowly before the Copyright Board, but on Friday, more than nine years after it was first filed, the Board issued its ruling. It established a retroactive tariff for the years from 2011-2014 of $24.80 per university student ($9.54 for college students) and $14.31 per university student ($5.50 for college students) for the years 2015 to 2017. Access Copyright welcomed the decision, arguing that it outlined a reasonable framework for copying in post-secondary institutions.

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December 10, 2019 3 comments News