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Bryan Adams by Derek Hatfield (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/67j7jp

Cuts Like a Knife: Bryan Adams Calls for Stronger Protections Against One-Sided Record Label Contracts

Canadian artist Bryan Adams placed copyright in the spotlight on Tuesday, appearing before the Canadian Heritage committee to make his case for copyright reform. Adams attracted widespread media coverage, though the big music industry groups such as Music Canada were conspicuously silent with not even a tweet to mark the appearance. Why the cold shoulder from the Canadian music industry to one of Canada’s best known artists? The obvious answer is that Adams sang from a far different songbook than the industry lobby groups. While those groups have been pushing for copyright term extension and a so-called “value gap” that bears little reality to Canadian law, Adams expressed artist frustration with the industry and one-sided contracts, noting that “I don’t even want to start naming the names of people who have had their copyright whisked from underneath their feet from contracts that they’ve signed as youngsters.”

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September 20, 2018 0 comments News
Facebook Copyright by Bernard Goldbach https://flic.kr/p/a5K9eE (CC BY 2.0)

Supreme Court of Canada on Copyright Notices: Identification of IP Address “Not Conclusive of Guilt”

The initial emphasis on last week’s Supreme Court of Canada’s copyright notice decision has focused on how Internet providers can pass along the specific costs associated with subscriber disclosures beyond those required for the notice-and-notice system to rights holders. The ruling rightly restores the notice system back to its intended approach, but it is not the only takeaway with implications for the recent flurry of file sharing lawsuits. While there has been a huge number of claims filed in Canada (with some surprisingly large settlements), the Supreme Court acknowledged important limitations in notice claims, noting that merely being associated with an IP address is not conclusive of guilt.

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September 18, 2018 7 comments News
Secretary Pompeo Meets With Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland by US Department of State, US government work, https://flic.kr/p/24iZVEm

Compromising on Culture?: Why a Blanket Culture Exception in NAFTA is Unnecessary

As the NAFTA negotiations continue to inch along, one of the remaining contentious issues is the inclusion of a full cultural exception that would largely exclude the Canadian culture industries from the ambit of the agreement. The government has not been shy about speaking out against compromising on culture, noting the perceived risks of provisions that might permit foreign ownership of media organizations. Indeed, the culture issue has attracted considerable attention, with coverage pointing to media ownership rules and simultaneous substitution policies as hot button concerns. Yet as cultural groups cheer on the government’s insistence that cultural policy should be taken off the NAFTA table, the reality is that there remains plenty of room for compromise. This post focuses on three of the biggest issues: foreign ownership, simultaneous substitution, and the TPP culture exceptions.

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September 13, 2018 2 comments News
https://web.archive.org/web/20180830172416/https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2018/august/modernizing-nafta-be-21st-century

Is Copyright Term Extension Still in Play in the New NAFTA?

As Canadian NAFTA negotiations continue in the aftermath of a U.S.-Mexico agreement on a trade deal, the inclusion of a mandated copyright term remains a bit of mystery. The U.S. has long been focused on getting Canada to extend the term of copyright beyond the international treaty standard of life of the author plus 50 years and seems likely to want to do so here. If so, the cost will be significant, locking down works from the public domain for decades and potentially increasing educational costs by millions of dollars. The U.S. fact sheets on the deal have undergone regular changes which suggests that the issue may still be in play. The original fact sheet issued last week described the copyright term provision as follows:

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September 4, 2018 5 comments News
Foreign Minister Freeland, U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer and Mexican Ministry of Economy Guajardo Participate in the Fourth Round of NAFTA Negotiations by US Department of State, US government work, https://flic.kr/p/Zyj1pK

Crunch Time in the NAFTA Negotiations: What’s at Play for Canada on Digital Policy

As the NAFTA negotiations hit a possible home stretch this week, the focal point has been primarily on issues such as dispute resolution, the dairy sector, and the auto industry. However, the digital policy issues will have huge implications for Canada and the outline of the agreement between the U.S. and Mexico suggests that Canada is facing considerable pressure to agree to changes to our copyright, patent, IP enforcement, and digital policy rules, contrary to our preferred negotiation approach.

The U.S. appears to be pushing for a TPP+ approach – the TPP provisions plus some additional changes it did not get as part of those negotiations. This is notable since Canadian authorities admitted that the TPP went far beyond any previous Canadian free trade agreement. The Canadian starting point is presumably the CPTPP,  the revised TPP where Canada successfully argued for the suspension of some of the U.S.-backed provisions. This post outlines five of the biggest issues that are likely at play, though many others such as de minimis rules for shipments that affect online commerce will be closely watched and could ultimately require future reforms.

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August 30, 2018 12 comments News