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Trump tweet, May 29. 2020 https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1266231100780744704?s=20

Why the USMCA Locks in the Internet Platform Liability System in the U.S., Canada and Mexico

U.S. President Donald Trump yesterday signed an executive order targeting Internet platforms after Twitter fact-checked one of his tweets on mail-in voting (the company followed up with a warning on another tweet earlier today involving glorifying violence). The order cannot simply reverse current U.S. law, but it encourages U.S. regulators to rethink how the Internet safe harbour provisions that limit liability for Internet platforms for third party content are implemented.

While the U.S. is obviously free to assess its statutory approach, one issue that received little attention is that the U.S. has effectively locked itself into the safe harbour system through its trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. The inclusion of safe harbour provisions in the agreement were viewed by some as an attempt to force Canada to adopt similar rules, yet the more likely reason for lobbying on the issue was to ensure that the U.S. itself was bound by the rules. Indeed, there were last minute efforts to remove the provision from the final deal, but those were ultimately rejected.

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May 29, 2020 4 comments News
Zamboni by Ramsey County Minnesota (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/TctV19

Privacy and Zambonis in the Age of COVID-19: My Ian Kerr Memorial Lecture

Last week, I had the enormous honour to deliver the first IAPP Ian Kerr Memorial Lecture. The IAPP and the broader privacy community has been incredibly supportive in the months since Ian’s passing, recognizing his exceptional contributions to the field and stepping up to help support the Ian R. Kerr Memorial Fund at the University of Ottawa. The Ian Kerr Memorial Lecture, which will be an annual lecture held by the IAPP, provided an opportunity to rediscover Ian’s scholarship and think about how he would been an essential voice during the current global pandemic. The lecture – along with introductions from IAPP President Trevor Hughes and UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham – can be found here and is embedded below.

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May 27, 2020 2 comments News
York University Station by wyliepoon https://flic.kr/p/HGWRpp (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Federal Court of Appeal Deals Access Copyright Huge Blow As It Overturns York University Copyright Decision

The Federal Court of Appeal delivered its long-awaited decision the York University v. Access Copyright case yesterday, setting aside the lower court ruling that I had described as “a complete victory” for Access Copyright. The latest ruling will not leave York University and the education community completely happy given the court’s fair dealing analysis, but winning on the mandatory tariff issue removes both the threat of mandated payments to Access Copyright as well as the possibility of a copyright infringement lawsuit by the copyright collective. That represents an enormous win both for York and for a fair approach to copyright licensing that ensures users have licensing choice.

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April 23, 2020 9 comments News
Heavy Duty by Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/MTgEda

Industry Committee Recommends Adding Digital Lock Exception to USMCA Copyright Provisions

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has released its recommendations for changes to Bill C-4, the bill designed to implement the Canada-US-Mexico Trade Agreement. I appeared before the committee and used this week’s Lawbytes podcast to highlight some of the discussion. The committee had a limited time to study the bill, but arrived at some important recommendations on the copyright and digital policy provisions.

First, it recommended adding a new exception to Canada’s digital lock rules to address concerns in the agriculture sector about the right to repair their equipment. The issue has been gaining momentum around the world as many identify the over-broad restrictions often associated with anti-circumvention laws. The recommendation:

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March 12, 2020 3 comments News
WhatsApp / iOS by Álvaro Ibáñez (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/ksmHKt

Bains’ Other Wireless Affordability Problem: The Broadcast Panel Plan for WhatsApp, Skype and Other Internet Services to Pay Canadian Broadband Taxes

Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry today promoted the government’s plans for wireless affordability. The effort was largely an attempt to reiterate its wireless affordability platform, which targeted a 25 per cent reduction in consumer wireless bills by emphasizing more competition through MVNOs and spectrum set-asides. The renewed emphasis on the policy comes as an updated Wall Report finds that prices have been declining in some baskets (the long-overdue emergence of unlimited-ish plans a key factor), but not in the core middle tier of plans where prices remain high. The government states “Canadians have been paying more overall compared to consumers in other G7 countries and Australia” and noted that the government will track pricing on a quarterly basis starting from January 2020. Coming on the heels of threats from incumbent telecom companies such as Telus, it was good for the government to re-assert its policy objectives for the sector.

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March 5, 2020 2 comments News