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Michael Geist's Blog

UN Report Says Internet Three Strikes Laws Violate International Law

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression has released an important new report that examines freedom of expression on the Internet.  The report is very critical of rules such as graduated response/three strikes, arguing that such laws may violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Canada became a member in 1976). Moreover, the report expresses concerns with notice-and-takedown systems, noting that it is subject to abuse by both governments and private actors.

On the issue of graduated response, the report states:

he is alarmed by proposals to disconnect users from Internet access if they violate intellectual property rights. This also includes legislation based on the concept of “graduated response”, which imposes a series of penalties on copyright infringers that could lead to suspension of Internet service, such as the so-called “three strikes-law” in France and the Digital Economy Act 2010 of the United Kingdom.

Beyond the national level, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been proposed as a multilateral agreement to establish international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement. While the provisions to disconnect individuals from Internet access for violating the treaty have been removed from the final text of December 2010, the Special Rapporteur remains watchful about the treaty’s eventual implications for intermediary liability and the right to freedom of expression.

In light of these concerns, the report argues that the Internet disconnection is a disproportionate response, violates international law and such measures should be repealed in countries that have adopted them:


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Lawful Access Delayed Until the Fall

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan has set out the government's legislative agenda over the coming month. Van Loan announced that the omnibus crime bill, which is expected to include lawful access, will not be introduced until the fall.
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U.S. National Academies Press Puts All 4,000 Books Free Online

The U.S. National Academies Press, the publishing arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, has announced that it will offer its entire catalog of 4,000 books free online.

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An Open Letter to Harper on Fair Use

Meera Nair has crafted an excellent open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging the government to implement a fair use provision in the Copyright Act.
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