News

Android Dev Phone 2 (aka Google Ion & HTC Magic) by Cedric Sam (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7sBBdQ

Bell’s Latest Privacy Solution: Enhance Internet Privacy By Blocking Access to It

The Canadaland report on Bell’s plans to apply to the CRTC to create a website blocking agency unsurprisingly sparked immediate widespread concern. I provided further detail on the proposal, noting the danger of establishing a blocking system without court review of the block list and the very weak case Bell makes to justify it. A critical aspect of the Bell proposal is that it must convince the CRTC that website blocking would further Canada’s telecommunications policy objectives. Given that the CRTC has already ruled that the law prohibits blocking without its approval, that is a difficult standard to meet. I argue that the three justifications raised by Bell – that piracy “threatens the social and economic fabric of Canada”, that the telecommunications system should “encourage compliance with Canadian laws” and that website blocking “will significantly contribute toward the protection of the privacy of Canadian Internet users” – is very weak.

In fact, the privacy argument is not only weak, it is incredibly hypocritical. Bell is arguably the worst major Canadian telecom company on user privacy and its attempt to justify website blocking on the grounds that it wants to protect privacy is shameful. There are obviously far better ways of protecting user privacy from risks on the Internet than blocking access to sites that might create those risks. Further, with literally millions of sites that pose some privacy risk, few would argue that the solution lies in blocking all of them.

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December 5, 2017 5 comments News
▇▇▇▇ [1113] by Brian J. Matis (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/bfa2dF

Bell Leads on Radical Proposal for CRTC-Backed Mandatory Website Blocking System

Canadaland reports today that Bell is leading a coalition that plans to file a proposal with the CRTC that would lead to the creation a mandatory website blocking system in Canada. The unprecedented proposal, which includes the creation of a new “Internet Piracy Review Agency”, envisions the creation of mandatory block lists without judicial review to be enforced by the CRTC. As a result, the companies (reportedly including Rogers and Cineplex) envision sweeping new Internet regulations with the CRTC ultimately charged with enforcing site blocking by every Internet provider in Canada. I reviewed the proposal in order to provide comments to the Canadaland.

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December 4, 2017 25 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 U.S. Department of State, United States government work https://flic.kr/p/Zyj1pK

NAFTA and the Digital Environment: My CIGI Global Forum Lecture

Last week I delivered the CIGI Global Forum lecture in Ottawa on NAFTA and the Digital Environment. The lecture draws on some of my work for CIGI (NAFTA, Innovation) and makes the case that NAFTA negotiations are a problematic place for digital copyright reform, noting the lack of transparency, lost flexibility, and inability to strike a critical policy balance. Given that the issues are seemingly unavoidable in NAFTA, the lecture then highlights the preferred approach (relying on international treaty standards) and identifies many of the most important issues up for discussion including copyright term, fair dealing, intermediary liability and digital issues such as net neutrality and data localization. A video of the talk is embedded below.

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November 29, 2017 1 comment Keynote Speaking, News, Video
Protect Net Neutrality rally, San Francisco by Credo Action (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/Zu6BD3

Why Abandoning Net Neutrality in the U.S. Matters in Canada

Earlier this week I appeared on CBC’s On the Money to discuss the U.S. decision to abandon net neutrality and its implications for Canada. I’ve written about these issues in columns and posts, but this interview provided the opportunity to highlight the implications for Canadian business and consumers, the prospect of including net neutrality in future Telecommunications Act reforms, the connection to NAFTA, and the ongoing concerns with telecom competitiveness in Canada. The interview is embedded below.

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November 25, 2017 7 comments News, News Interviews, Tv / Radio, Video
Santeri Viinamäki [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Music Canada Data Confirms Huge Increase in Streaming Revenues and Sharp Decline of Music Listening from Pirated Sources

Music Canada released a report on the so-called Value Gap last month which serves as the basis for its lobbying campaign for copyright reform in Canada. The industry lobby group has used the value gap rhetoric primarily as an argument to undo safe harbours for Internet intermediaries. As I noted earlier this year, the argument is poor fit in Canada. First, Canada has experienced massive growth of Internet streaming revenues, with the Canadian music market outpacing global competitors by almost any metric and revenues going to both the industry and creators.

Yesterday I posted on SOCAN generating a 10X increase in Internet streaming revenues with growth rates of over 100 per cent over the past year for songwriters, composers, and music publishers. The industry numbers from Music Canada and IFPI tell a similar story. According to industry data, the Canadian music market is growing much faster than the world average (12.8 per cent in 2016 vs. 5.9 per cent globally), streaming revenues more than doubled last year to US$127.9 million (up from US$49.82 million) growing far faster than the world average of 60.4 per cent, the Canadian digital share of revenues of 63 per cent is far above the global average of 50 per cent, and Canada has leaped past Australia to become the 6th largest music market in the world. In fact, as the chart below indicates, the growth of streaming revenues in Canada since the 2012 copyright reforms has increased significantly year-after-year with growth rates for the industry and collectives mirroring each other.

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November 22, 2017 5 comments News