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    Will Microsoft vs. i4i Patent Case Influence Canadian Law?

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    Friday June 10, 2011
    Professor Norman Siebrasse on why it won't: the statute is different, the precedent is different, and the U.S. Supreme Court expressly did not consider policy arguments.
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    Microsoft Embraces Modification of Kinect Boxes

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    Tuesday November 23, 2010
    The EFF and Mashable note that Microsoft has changed its tune on modifications to its new Kinect box.  While initially indicating it would work with law enforcement to stop the activity, it now says that the Kinect was left open for tinkering by design.
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    How IP Enforcement Can Be Used To Suppress Dissent

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    Tuesday September 14, 2010

    The NY Times ran a bombshell article over the weekend in which it reported that Russia has been using the pre-text of intellectual property enforcement to seize computers from NGO groups involved in advocacy and dissent.  The article notes that the authorities have been receiving active assistance from Microsoft, which had been delivering statements describing the company as a victim and asking for criminal charges against the NGO groups.  While human rights groups had been pressing Microsoft to address the issue for months, it only responded yesterday after the article's publication.  The company now says it will offer free blanket licences for its products to NGOs to prevent actions under the guise of IP enforcement.  It will also establish a new legal assistance program to assist NGOs who need to respond to enforcement actions.

    While the Microsoft response is a good one, it must be noted the abuse of IP enforcement is surely connected to efforts by the U.S. government and copyright lobby groups to actively encourage Russia to increase its IP enforcement.  The US has regularly cited Russia in its Special 301 report, this year including it on the Priority Watch list.  The IIPA, the industry lobby group that includes software associations, pushed the U.S. to target Russia, saying that is imperative that prosecutors bring more IPR cases.  In fact, the IIPA complained that Russian authorities do not seize enough computers when conducting raids.  On top of all this is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which will provide Russia with a template to follow on IP enforcement, including new seizure powers with less court oversight. 

    It has often been pointed out that the ACTA/Special 301 report approach seeks to export tougher enforcement measures - often to countries where free speech is not a given - without including the exceptions, due process, and balancing provisions. The recent Russian case highlights why this is such a dangerous and misguided approach that is apt to cause more problems than it solves.

    Update: EFF and ZDNet cover the same issue. Rebecca MacKinnon offers her analysis here.

    Update II: Public Knowledge adds its perspective.


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    Quebec Broke Law in Buying Microsoft Software

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    Monday June 07, 2010
    The CBC reports that Quebec's government broke the law by buying software from Microsoft without considering offers from other vendors, the province's Superior Court has ruled.
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