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Justin Trudeau: "Trade needs to work for people" by European Parliament (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/RZn1gM

PBO Concludes CETA Patent Rules Will Lead To Outflow of Hundreds of Millions in Pharma Royalties

The Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report last week providing its estimate on the economic impact of the Canada – EU Trade Agreement. While the Liberal government made CETA its top trade priority when it came into office (and the Conservatives claimed that the deal would add $12 billion to the Canadian economy), the PBO report concludes that the economic benefits will be modest at best.

The report devotes a full chapter to CETA’s intellectual property provisions, particularly the patent related rules that will have a direct impact on the pharmaceutical industry.  CETA establishes patent restoration and patent appeal rules that will extend the term of patent protection for pharmaceutical products, thereby increasing consumer prices and royalty outflows. With a regulatory framework designed to address pricing in place, the report focuses on increased royalty outflows with extended protection.

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May 8, 2017 4 comments News
watcher_and_watched_1692 by Pete (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/NefB

Public Safety Committee Recommends Against Lawful Access Reforms

Last month, I wrote about the recent initiative to revive lawful access, the rules that govern police access to Internet and subscriber information. A cybercrime working group has held consultations (I participated in one) as law enforcement seeks new powers for warrantless access to some ISP information (called “pre-cursor” data) and a new, lower threshold warrant for other subscriber data. While law enforcement has argued that the current system is broken, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security has recommended that the current approach remain unchanged.

The committee’s much anticipated report on developing a road map for national security contains dozens of recommendations (my colleague Craig Forcese reviews many of them) including one on lawful access.  It states:

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May 3, 2017 3 comments News
Obama in the Backseat: Rally to Save the Internet by Stacie Isabella Turk/Ribbonhead (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/osRvjr

Why Canada’s Net Neutrality Commitment Places Consumers in Control

Canada seemed lost when it came to Internet policy a little over a decade ago. The government showed scant interest in the technicalities of Internet services and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission stood idly by as leading Internet providers engaged in traffic shaping to limit speeds of some applications and mused openly about new fees for the right to transmit content to subscribers. Internally, government policy makers were seemingly untroubled that telecom companies were gearing up to be gatekeepers of Internet content.

My regular Globe and Mail column notes those early Internet policies are unrecognizable today as Canada has emerged as a world leader in supporting net neutrality, the principle that all content and applications should be treated equally and that choices made by Internet users should be free from ISP or telecom interference. The policies do not guarantee Internet success – no law does – but it signals a clear commitment to placing consumers and creators in the Internet driver’s seat.

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May 2, 2017 2 comments Columns
Ontario Government Welcome by Alan Levine (CC0 1.0)  https://flic.kr/p/UfcH9Y

Ontario Government Placing Big Bet on Open Textbooks

The Creative Commons Global Summit was held in Toronto over the weekend, bringing hundreds of people together from around the world to discuss issues ranging from copyright reform to enhancing collaboration and sharing. As part of the opening of the event, David Lametti, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Deb Matthews, the Ontario Minister for Advanced Education and Skills Development as well as the Minister for Digital Government, both provided words of welcome. Their presence demonstrated how far openness, access, and balanced copyright have come in recent years.  Lametti, a leading voice on copyright as McGill law professor, emphasized the important role of balance and flexibility in the copyright system, while Matthews provided a unequivocal endorsement of openness and access.

Matthews provided more than just encouraging words, however.  She used her opening remarks to promote the creation of a new Open Textbook Library for Ontario that will feature hundreds of openly licensed, professionally created textbooks providing students with access to free digital texts in dozens of university and college courses.

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May 1, 2017 5 comments News
Bell Canada manhole cover by Amr Malik (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/4zqkxc

CRTC Chair Blais Calls Out Telcos For Double-Talk on Internet Fibre Investment

CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais participated in a fascinating question-and-answer session at MIT this week in which he bluntly spoke out on a wide range of topics including cultural issues, copyright, and Internet policy.  I’ll have a future post on his culture comments (his copyright remarks noted that the zero rating decision may help solidify ISPs’ status as common carriers), but his frank response on Internet investment was particularly noteworthy.

Readers of this blog may recall one of my posts from June 2016 in which I noted that Bell told the CRTC and the government that requirements to share fibre networks could reduce their investment in the sector, but that a top executive told investors that it was going to continue to build fibre networks since they were critical to the company’s future, offering significant cost savings and higher revenues. It would appear that the CRTC took note of the same contradictions. When asked about the CRTC fibre decision at roughly the 34 minute mark, Blais responded:

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April 26, 2017 5 comments News