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Cdn Heritage Ctee Recommends Excluding Copyright From Trade Deals, Limits on Implementing ACTA

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has released its report on CETA and ACTA.  The report, which is based on hearings that featured Minister Peter van Loan, includes a notable recommendation with respect to ACTA implementation and future trade negotiations, including the ongoing Canada - European Union Trade Agreement discussions.  Recommendation #3 states:

The Committee calls on the Government of Canada to ensure that domestic copyright policies are not part of any present or future trade negotiations; that Canada’s commitments to the implementation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are limited to the agreement’s focus on combating international counterfeiting and commercial piracy efforts; and that the Government of Canada retains the right to maintain domestic copyright policies that have been developed within the framework of its commitments to the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Berne Convention.

While the Conservatives dissented from all the report's recommendations on the basis that it believed the issue should not have addressed by the committee, this particular recommendation (as well as another one calling for greater transparency and public input) packs in several issues. First, it effectively calls for the removal of the copyright provisions from CETA and from future trade agreements. Even if the government refuses, this suggests that those provisions could face a rough ride if an agreement is reached. Second, it rightly seeks to limit ACTA implementation to counterfeiting and commercial piracy concerns, which could raise questions about some Internet provisions in the agreement that are outside that scope. Third, it reaffirms the flexibility that exists under WIPO and the Berne Convention and the need for Canada to conform in accordance with our own interests.
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BCE CEO Cope Says UBB Accounts for Almost All Internet Revenue Gains

When Bell's Mirko Bibic appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry to answer questions on usage based billing last month, he focused on the "fairness" associated with the billing approach. Using the word "fairness" seven times, Bibic mixed congestion, heavy users, and fairness with responses such as:

As for small businesses, which are generally on the same network as residential users, what you have is really a case where the congestion during peak periods is largely a residential phenomenon. It's in that area that we've addressed the usage-based billing issue, and all we're asking the CRTC for is to follow a fundamental principle of fairness. If we asked 97% or 98% of Canadians if they would be prepared to pay more so that the 2% of heaviest users pay less, I'm pretty sure of what the answer would be.

While Bell emphasized fairness once UBB became a political hot potato, the company had a far different emphasis when discussing UBB last year with financial analysts.  In an August 2010 quarterly call, BCE CEO George Cope stated:


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Government Launches Open Gov Initiative

One day after formally launching a Canadian open data portal, the federal governmental on Friday unveiled a new Open Government initative. The Open Gov initiative includes three prongs: open data, open information, and open dialogue. The most noteworthy change is a new requirement that all government departments must proactively release summaries of access to information requests. Canadians can use the information to informally request a copy of the released documents. This is a good step, though it falls short of reinstating the CAIRS database (which provided access all ATI requests) or making the full text of ATI requests readily available, as the UK has proposed doing.
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Gilded Age for Cable

The Globe's Derek DeCloet has a terrific piece on the fat profit margins for Canadian cable giants - bigger than those in the U.S. due to massive price increases and no foreign competition.
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The UBB Deception

Francois Caron has produced The UBB Deception, which does a nice job of explaining UBB and some of the reasons behind it.
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CRTC Makes It Easier To Switch Providers

The CRTC announced new rules on Friday that should make it easier for consumers to switch providers. The new rules allow consumers to switch TV, home telephone, wireless or Internet services in a single call and require providers to comply with 2.5 hours.
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