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The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan, Part 4: Absence of Court Orders Would Put Canada At Odds With Almost Everyone

The first three posts in the case against the Bell coalition website plan focused on why it has failed to provide convincing evidence that the drastic step of site blocking is needed (existing law, weak evidence on Canadian piracy, limited negative impact on the market). The series continues by examining some of the problems with the proposal itself. One of the most obvious problems – indeed one that is fatal – is the absence of court orders for website blocking. The attempt to avoid direct court involvement in blocking decisions means the proposal suffers from an absence of full due process, raising a myriad of legal concerns. If adopted, the coalition website plan would put Canada at odds with almost every other country that has permitted blocking since the data is unequivocal: the overwhelming majority require a court order for site blocking.

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February 15, 2018 2 comments News
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The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan, Part 3: Piracy Having Little Impact on Thriving Digital Services and TV Production

The case against the Bell coalition’s website blocking plan continues with an examination of the state of new digital business models and Canadian content production (earlier posts looked at Canadian copyright law and weak evidence on Canadian piracy). Given the high threshold needed to gain CRTC support for website blocking (which requires exceptional circumstances), the coalition proposal must not only make the case that there is a significant Canadian piracy problem, but also that piracy is having an enormous impact on the business and creative sectors.

The proposal tries to meet that standard by claiming that Canadian piracy “makes it difficult if not impossible to build the successful business models that will meet the evolving demands of Canadians, support Canadian content production, and contribute to the Canadian economy.” Yet as with the actual data on Canadian piracy, which firmly rebuts claims that Canada is a piracy haven, the Canadian data on the digital economy and Canadian creative sector show a thriving industry.

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February 14, 2018 8 comments News
FBI Anti-Piracy Warning! by Shunsuke Kobayashi https://flic.kr/p/2HJmHK (CC BY 2.0)

The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan, Part 2: Weak Evidence on the State of Canadian Piracy

Having examined the state of current Canadian copyright law with respect to anti-piracy measures, the series outlining the case against the Bell coalition’s website blocking plan continues with an examination of the evidence on Canadian piracy. The coalition argues that piracy in Canada is a growing threat, relying on data from MUSO to suggest that current activities “makes it difficult if not impossible to build the successful business models that will meet the evolving demands of Canadians, support Canadian content production, and contribute to the Canadian economy.” My next post will discuss economic evidence in Canada, highlighting record growth in authorized streaming services and production in the Canadian creative sector. This post is limited to data on Canadian piracy rates and whether drastic measures such as website blocking are needed.

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February 13, 2018 2 comments News
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The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan, Part 1: Canada’s Current Copyright Law Provides Effective Anti-Piracy Tools

The Bell coalition’s website blocking proposal has sparked a huge public outcry, with thousands of Canadians submitting interventions to the CRTC opposing a plan premised on website blocking without direct court involvement. I have written several posts on the issue – a general assessment on why it is a terrible idea, a closer look at the economic reality of the Canadian film and television sector, and a discussion of Bell’s inconsistent comments to the CRTC vs. business analysts – but the case against the radical plan merits a closer look at both the evidence and the legal arguments. With this post, I begin a new series that will make the case against the Bell coalition’s website blocking plan.

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February 12, 2018 6 comments News
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Sending a Different Message: After Bell Website Blocking Coalition Warns About Cord Cutting, Bell CEO Says It Isn’t Accelerating

The Bell coalition website blocking proposal places considerable emphasis on the impact of cord cutting, a reference to television subscribers canceling their service. Earlier this week, I blogged about CMPA data that called into question claims of negative impacts on the industry, with the actual data confirming record investment in Canadian television and film production and more than a billion dollars being spent annually by consumers on authorized video services such as Netflix, CraveTV, and Club illico.

While the Bell coalition wants the CRTC to believe that there is urgent problem requiring a radical regulatory solution (it acknowledges the CRTC can only authorize blocking in exceptional circumstances that further the objectives of the Telecommunications Act), Bell’s own commentary to financial analysts strike a much different tone. During yesterday’s quarterly earnings conference call with analysts, Bell executives said absolutely nothing about piracy or website blocking, instead emphasizing the success of both its TV and online streaming services. For example, CEO George Cope stated:

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February 9, 2018 7 comments News