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IMG_20170926_090441.jpg by Council of Canadians (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/XQuufC

Life After NAFTA: Why No Deal May Free Canada on Intellectual Property Policy

The Senate Open Caucus held a two-hour panel on NAFTA modernization last week with the intention of exploring the benefits and costs of re-working Canada’s most significant trade agreement. In light of signals that the United States be laying the groundwork to cancel the existing deal, however, the discussion quickly turned to the challenges and opportunities of life after NAFTA.

My role on the panel was to focus on NAFTA’s intellectual property and e-commerce implications. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that to my surprise, the shift in focus to a post-NAFTA world was liberating, opening the door to considering Canadian policies that have previously been viewed as unattainable given intense U.S. pressure on intellectual property policy that favours “Americanization” of global rules. A world without NAFTA would unquestionably be a shock to the economic system, but it would also free the government to establish made-in-Canada IP policies that better reflect domestic values and pursue trade agreements that use international standards as the baseline rather than U.S. demands.

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October 23, 2017 6 comments Columns
What Is it to Be Human in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? by World Economic Forum (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/Q2JwZA

Joly’s Challenge: Digital Cancon Without New Digital Tax Dollars

After months of public consultation and debate, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly will unveil the government’s plan for Canadian content in a digital world this week. Joly launched the digital Cancon consultation in the spring of 2016 by emphasizing that all policy options were on the table, but the choices have narrowed considerably in recent months.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that a potential Netflix tax was a non-starter due to a 2015 election campaign commitment, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau eliminated the possibility of an Internet tax in June, and the government has steadfastly (and rightly) defended net neutrality, meaning there will be no mandated prioritization of Canadian content on the Internet.

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September 27, 2017 2 comments Columns
Pen English Consent Check Off Ankreuzen Contract CC0 Public Domain http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Pen-English-Consent-Check-Off-Ankreuzen-Contract-2052052

Why Clicking “I Agree” May No Longer Mean You Agree to Everything

Facebook lost a major legal showdown at the Supreme Court of Canada last week, as the court refused to enforce a forum selection clause included in its standard online contract requiring that legal actions against it be brought in California. In doing so, the court paved the way for a privacy class action lawsuit to proceed in British Columbia under provincial privacy law.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that a majority of the court ruled that the unequal bargaining power between consumers and companies such as Facebook meant that the clause should not be enforced. While the ruling can be narrowly interpreted as an affirmation of the importance of privacy rights and as a rebuke to companies that seek to contract out of those rights through forum selection clauses, the decision could have a far more reaching effect, forcing a re-examination of non-negotiated online contracts.

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June 27, 2017 5 comments Columns
Ms. Hedy Fry (MP, Canada) speaks October 4, 2014 (photo courtesy of the Swiss Parliament/Fabio Chironi) by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/peTUuL

Why the Government Was Right to Swiftly Ditch the Ill-Advised Internet Tax

Politicians are sometimes said to struggle with “developing policy at Internet speed,” but Thursday the government gave new meaning to the words. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that as Liberal MPs were presenting the much-anticipated Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage report on media that included a recommendation for a 5-per-cent tax on broadband access, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly were assuring Canadians that the government had no intention of accepting the committee’s proposal.

Ms. Joly left the door open to an Internet tax last year through her national consultation on Canadian content in a digital world, steadfastly refusing to take a firm position on the issue. The committee report effectively ended the debate as the immediate criticism of the ill-advised policy measure means that an Internet tax has about as much future as a dial-up modem.

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June 16, 2017 3 comments Columns
Copyright by Dennis Skley (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/pZ2G1V

The Upcoming 2017 Copyright Act Review: What Next for Canadian Copyright

This week Policy Options launched a new series on copyright reform with plans to provide perspectives from across the spectrum. I was delighted to write the first published piece, which starts by making the case that the Conservative government got far more right than wrong in 2012. Canadian copyright law is widely regarded as one of the most innovative in the world with unique, forward-looking provisions (non-commercial user generated content, notice-and-notice) and flexible fair dealing. The last five years have largely achieved what the government had in mind as the days of labelling Canada a “piracy haven” are over, the cultural industries such as movies and music are enjoying record earnings, and new digital services have found great success in Canada.

So, as Parliament prepares for a review of the law later this year, what’s next for Canadian copyright?

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June 13, 2017 5 comments Columns