Fair Dealing by Giulia Forsythe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dRkXwP

Fair Dealing by Giulia Forsythe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dRkXwP

Copyright

Miranda Mulholland for Great Lake Swimmers by Brenda Lee (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/7zTo1U

Music Industry’s Canadian Copyright Reform Goal: “End Tech Companies’ Safe Harbours”

Miranda Mulholland, a Toronto-based musician and music label owner, delivered an exceptionally passionate, accessible, and deeply personal keynote speech last week to the Economic Club of Canada. Mulholland’s talk was notable not only for providing an artist’s perspective, but for coming ready with next steps for everyone. She urged artists to create and protect their intellectual property, consumers to create playlists, write reviews, go to shows, and subscribe to digital music services, the music industry to be upfront about payment, to better support artists (including providing daycare services), and to pay for tickets to their own artists (Kate Taylor offered her take on the talk here, which includes an incredible comment from Music Canada that it wants only a level playing field, not public money. Music Canada has spent the last few years successfully lobbying for tens of millions in taxpayer support from provincial governments).

Given the active support from Music Canada for the event, her recommendations for policy makers were a core part of her message and largely mirror those of the industry. Unlike the 2010-2012 copyright reform process, piracy is no longer a key issue. Indeed, the issue of peer-to-peer file sharing and unauthorized downloading was not even mentioned in the speech. With the Canadian digital music market enjoying remarkable growth – Canada leaped ahead of Australia last year to become the 6th largest music market in the world and SOCAN generated record revenues – the industry focus is no longer on whether the public is paying for music (they are) but whether they are paying enough.

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May 29, 2017 0 comments News
Translations by Quinn Dombrowski (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8CUAGo

Why Copyright Law Poses a Barrier to Canada’s Artificial Intelligence Ambitions

The federal government placed a big bet in this year’s budget on Canada becoming a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI), investing millions of dollars on a national strategy to support research and commercialization. The hope is that by attracting high-profile talent and significant corporate support, the government can turn a strong AI research record into an economic powerhouse.

Funding and personnel have been the top policy priorities, yet other barriers to success remain. For example, Canada’s restrictive copyright rules may hamper the ability of companies and researchers to test and ultimately bring new AI services to market.

What does copyright have to do with AI?

My Globe and Mail column notes that making machines smart – whether engaging in automated translation, big data analytics, or new search capabilities – is dependent upon the data being fed into the system. Machines learn by scanning, reading, listening or viewing human created works. The better the inputs, the better the output and the reduced likelihood that results may be biased or inaccurate.

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May 18, 2017 2 comments Columns
Maryland State House by Danny Huizinga (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/onmk19

Australian Copyright Scandal Points to the Need for Greater Oversight of Copyright Collectives

The Australian copyright community has been shocked by a scandal involving the Copyright Agency, a copyright collective that diverted millions of dollars intended for authors toward a lobbying and advocacy fund designed to fight against potential fair use reforms. The collective reportedly withheld A$15 million in royalties from authors in order to build a war chest to fight against changes to the Australian copyright law. I wrote last month about my experience in Australia, where groups such as the Copyright Agency have engaged in a remarkable effort to mislead policy makers on the state of copyright law in Canada. A former director of the Copyright Agency describes the latest situation as “pathetic” noting that it was outrageous to extract millions from publicly-funded schools for a lobbying fund.

The Australian case is far from an isolated incident. A quick search reveals plenty of examples of legal concerns involving copyright collectives with corruption fears in Kenya and competition law concerns in Italy over the past couple of months as well as recent fines against Spanish collecting societies. In fact, Jonathan Band and Brandon Butler published an eye-opening article several years ago chronicling an astonishing array of examples of corruption, mismanagement, lack of transparency, and negative effects for both creators and users from copyright collectives around the world.

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April 25, 2017 5 comments News
Creative Commons by Kristina Alexanderson (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dp7BN7

Copyright Reform in Canada and Beyond

Creative Commons will hold their annual global summit in Toronto later this month. In anticipation of that event, I discussed copyright reform in Canada and around the world in an interview with Creative Commons’ Public Policy manager Timothy Vollmer.  The full interview, which included discussion on copyright and trade agreements, educational exceptions, and empirical data, can be found here. An excerpt discussing the Canadian experience is posted below:

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April 18, 2017 0 comments News
New Thinking on Innovation, https://www.cigionline.org/innovation-series?utm_source=author&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=innovation&utm_content=release1

Copyright in the Public Interest: How Canada Can Establish a Pro-Innovation Reform Agenda

The Centre for International Governance Innovation, the well-respected independent think tank based in Waterloo, has posted the first part of an exceptional new series on innovation. From the introduction from Rohinton Medhora to several pieces on innovation and trade (Kahin, Haggart, Ciuriak, and Van Harten), the series promises to provide politicians and policy makers with valuable insights to support the government’s focus on innovation. I was delighted to participate in the project with a piece titled How Trolls are Stifling Innovators, Gamers and Netflix Junkies.

The contribution, which is accompanied by a video on the impact of copyright and fair use on innovation, identifies several areas of copyright reform that are closely linked to innovation policy.  These include copyright flexibilities such as fair use, the need to prevent IP and copyright misuse, and the harms associated with restrictive digital lock rules. The article starts by noting that the Supreme Court of Canada highlighted the link between copyright and innovation in the 2002 Theberge decision:

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April 13, 2017 0 comments News