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

Drake by Anton Mak (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/FSVNGy

U.S. Lobby Groups Take Aim At Canadian Copyright Law in NAFTA Comments: No Balance, No Fair Use, & No Cultural Exception

The U.S. just completed its consultation on negotiating objectives in the upcoming NAFTA re-negotiations (the Canadian consultation is open until July 18, 2017). There are well over a thousand comments, but a review of the lobby groups who pay attention to copyright reveals that they hope to use the talks to make significant changes to Canadian copyright law. This was expected – I touched on the trade dimension of domestic reforms in my recent Policy Options piece on the 2017 copyright review – but the extent to which many groups want to toss aside foundational elements of Canadian copyright law may still surprise.

For example, the Copyright Alliance, which represents a wide array of lobby group associations and Hollywood type interests, rejects the inclusion of balance as an objective in copyright law. It notes that the TPP included a balance provision and warns against something similar in NAFTA. Ironically, the TPP provision was non-enforceable, stating only:

Read more ›

June 22, 2017 5 comments News
Doublespeak [Explore] by Kat Northern Lights Man (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/ekXjym

Saving Private Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Terrible From the Latest Canadian Proposals

Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly does not plan to release her digital culture policy plan until September, but the pressure to address the financial challenges faced by media organizations increased last week with the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage report (the same report that recommended an Internet tax that was swiftly rejected by Prime Minister Trudeau) and a proposal from News Media Canada that seeks hundreds of millions in annual government support. The recommendations don’t end there: copyright reform, tax changes, and amendments to government advertising policies are all part of the proposals to provide support to Canadian media organizations.

Andrew Coyne’s must-read column persuasively argues against a media bailout, noting the dangers of permanent government funding of an otherwise independent media. He rightly argues that if funding is established, it isn’t going away as government will be reluctant to allow funded media organizations to fail.  Further, Ken Whyte, former editor-in-chief of the National Post, openly acknowledges in a Twitter stream the constraints that come from criticizing government when funding or regulation is at stake.

Read more ›

June 19, 2017 6 comments News
Copyright by Dennis Skley (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/pZ2G1V

The Upcoming 2017 Copyright Act Review: What Next for Canadian Copyright

This week Policy Options launched a new series on copyright reform with plans to provide perspectives from across the spectrum. I was delighted to write the first published piece, which starts by making the case that the Conservative government got far more right than wrong in 2012. Canadian copyright law is widely regarded as one of the most innovative in the world with unique, forward-looking provisions (non-commercial user generated content, notice-and-notice) and flexible fair dealing. The last five years have largely achieved what the government had in mind as the days of labelling Canada a “piracy haven” are over, the cultural industries such as movies and music are enjoying record earnings, and new digital services have found great success in Canada.

So, as Parliament prepares for a review of the law later this year, what’s next for Canadian copyright?

Read more ›

June 13, 2017 3 comments Columns
comcast_six_strikes_alert by aaron_anderer (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dYokuc

Copyright Misuse Emerges as a Political Issue: QP Questions on Notice-and-Notice Abuse

The problems associated with Canada’s copyright notice-and-notice system have been well chronicled. The Canadian system – which was acknowledged as equivalent to the U.S. notice-and-takedown approach in the TPP – allows rights holders to send notifications alleging infringement to intermediaries who are obligated to forward the notifications to their subscribers. The intermediary does not disclose the identity of the subscriber and it falls to the rights holder to pursue further action if they so choose. Unfortunately, the failure to include regulations stipulating what may be included in a forwarded notice has led to rampant misuse of the system, with anti-piracy companies sending millions of notifications that include demands for payments over unproven allegations.

The need to fix the notice-and-notice system should be a 2017 Copyright Act review priority, though the solution lies in adopting regulations that do not require a legislative overhaul. The issue is attracting increasing attention and made its way onto the floor of the House of Commons this week as NDP MP Brian Masse directly asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about it:

Read more ›

June 9, 2017 2 comments News
Vote Dole by Kit Peters (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/6ddmVd

Toward a Canadian Knowledge Transfer Strategy: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology recently launched a study on intellectual property and tech transfer, which it hopes will feed into the government’s national IP strategy. I appeared before the committee yesterday, which provided an opportunity to provide a perspective that shifted away from encouraging greater university patenting and instead emphasized that the real goal should be knowledge transfer, not just tech transfer. I noted that knowledge transfer certainly incorporates tech transfer but it also includes research papers, data trials, educational materials, and highly qualified students and personnel.  My opening remarks also highlighted potential strategic reforms including emphasizing open access, crafting an anti-IP abuse statute, and expanding fair dealing with additional categories or adopting fair use provisions.  The ensuing discussion touched on a wide range of issues, including patent and copyright trolls.  My opening remarks are posted below.

Read more ›

June 2, 2017 3 comments News