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Michael Geist's Blog

Copyright and Faith in the Free Market

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, HTML backup article, homepage version) in the Toronto Star focuses on the Canadian recording industry's rejection of alternative compensation systems on the grounds that it prefers to rely on the free market. The column notes that the industry has been a leading proponent of government involvement, consistently seeking both financial support and legislative intervention. It concludes that as Canada heads toward yet another round of copyright reform, policymakers and politicians should be mindful that they have already used legislative intervention to establish many rights and protections that have tilted the copyright balance heavily toward creators at the expense of users.

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Renegades Spam Complaint Apparently New News

The Ottawa Business Journal today features an article on my successful privacy complaint against the Ottawa Renegades for sending me unsolicited commercial email and not respecting a request to opt-out. While the story is a bit old, it is new to some people -- the story appears on Slashdot today, likely raising more awareness of the decision than an appearance on CBC's As It Happens.

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Privacy Breaches Shouldn't Stay Private

Professor Geist's weekly Toronto Star column (Toronto Star version, HTML backup article, homepage version) calls on Canadian lawmakers to follow the California lead by adopting a law that requires organizations to publicly disclose privacy breaches to their customers. It argues that privacy breaches, including instances of misused personal information or inadequately safeguarded information, frequently do not come to light and that a mandatory self-reporting system on privacy and security breaches would be a step in the right direction.

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The Battle over Canadian Internet Pharmacies

Professor Geist's weekly Toronto Star Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, HTML backup article, homepage version) assesses the current battle over Internet pharmacies. The column argues that the Canadian and U.S. governments, supported by PhARMA, have relied on a series of demonstrably false premises to stir fear among the Canadian and American public. It concludes that while there may be good reasons to shut down the industry, the public has yet to hear them.

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Hunting For Spammers

The Austin Chronicle carries a story on efforts to track down spammers. Professor Geist comments on the need for stronger enforcement actions.

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Is Canada Headed Toward a DMCCA?

Professor Geist's weekly Toronto Star Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, HTML backup article, homepage version) examines whether Canada may be headed toward a Digital Millennium Copyright Canada Act. The column explores the risks associated with technological protection measures alongside anti-circumvention legislation and the potential that Canada may adopt DMCA-like provisions into its copyright law.

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Canadian Government to Alter Contracts to Address U.S. Privacy Risk

The Canadian government plans to revamp the wording of future federal contracts with the aim of countering U.S. powers, granted under anti-terrorism laws, to tap into personal information about Canadians. The government has also asked all agencies and departments to conduct a "comprehensive assessment of risks" to Canadian information they release to U.S. companies carrying out work under contract.

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More Action Needed on Spam Enforcement

Professor Geist comments on the current anti-spam battle in Canada in a Macleans column. He notes that existing laws can be used to tackle spam provided a strong enforcement effort is undertaken.

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Will the Canadian Gov't Intervene in Other Cases?

Professor Geist comments in IT World on the likelihood of future Canadian government interventions into foreign patent disputes. The question arose in light of a patent dispute between Nortel and Ciena.

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Why Ottawa Should Stand On Guard in RIM Patent Case

Professor Geist's weekly Toronto Star Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, HTML backup article, homepage version) examines the recent intervention by the Canadian government in the Research in Motion patent dispute. The column argues that rather than criticizing the government for its involvement, a more appropriate response would be to ask what took it so long, since the U.S. has long adopted an aggressive extra-territorial approach to intellectual property policy. While there remains doubt about the government's position on other IP issues, the decision to intervene may foreshadow a greater willingness to stand up for the national interest.

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