Telecom by yum9me (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/53jSy4

Telecom by yum9me (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/53jSy4

Telecom

Happy New Year 2019 by Jon Glittenberg (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/2dQH12q

The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 36: The Year in Canadian Digital Law and Policy

The past year has been an incredibly active one for Canadian digital law and policy with important Supreme Court cases, legislative proposals, committee reports, expert panels, and political promises to reform existing laws and regulation. For this final Lawbytes podcast of 2019, I go solo without a guest to talk about the most significant trends and developments in Canadian digital policy from the past year and think a bit about what may lie ahead next year. I focus on five issues: the “euro-fication” of Canadian digital policy, the debate over the competitiveness of the Canadian wireless market, the many calls for privacy law reform, the future of Canadian copyright reform, and the review of Canadian broadcast and telecom law.

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December 16, 2019 1 comment Podcasts
GoldTV.biz block

Canadian Copyright Website Blocking Underway As TekSavvy Appeals Federal Court Ruling

Last week I wrote about a federal court ruling that opened the door to copyright website blocking in Canada without Parliament establishing site blocking rules or the involvement of the CRTC. The decision is flawed from both a policy and legal perspective, substituting the views of one judge over Parliament’s judgment and relying on a foreign copyright case that was rendered under markedly different legal rules than those found in Canada. I concluded by noting that the case should be appealed and just over a week later, TekSavvy, the independent ISP that stood alone in contesting the blocking order, did just that. Even as the appeal was launched, however, the major Canadian ISPs began blocking access to the specific webpages identified in the court order.

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November 26, 2019 6 comments News
Danger: High Voltage by Rhys A (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8jQYkS

Federal Court Short-Circuits Voltage Pictures’ Canadian File Sharing Class Action Copyright Lawsuit Strategy

The Federal Court of Canada has strongly rejected an attempt by Voltage Pictures, one of Canada’s most litigious copyright companies, to use a reverse class action lawsuit approach to sue potentially thousands of Canadians. The court ruled that Voltage met none of the requirements for class action certification and in the process confirmed doubts that merely pointing to an IP address is sufficient grounds for a copyright infringement claim. The Voltage strategy was launched in 2016 as it sought certification of the class, a declaration that each member of the class had infringed its copyright, an injunction stopping further infringement, damages, and costs of the legal proceedings (the issues were discussed in this Lawbytes podcast episode with James Plotkin).

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November 14, 2019 11 comments News
Rewheel Research, The state of 4G & 5G pricing, 2H2019: more-for-less, http://research.rewheel.fi/insights/2019_oct_pro_2h2019_release/

Wireless Worsens: Report Finds Canadian Wireless Pricing Now Less Competitive Compared to Other Developed Economies

The cost of wireless services emerged as a political issue during the recent national election, with most parties taking turns promising measures to increase competitiveness and lower consumer costs. The Liberals based their platform on a commitment to reduce costs by 25 per cent over the next two years, a measure that some analysts suggested had already been met. I argued that the 25 per cent reduction target was measuring the wrong thing, noting that “the 25 per cent price decline may sound attractive, but if other countries experience declines of 30 per cent or 40 per cent, it means that Canadians would actually be paying even more relative to consumers elsewhere.”

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October 30, 2019 2 comments News
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by World Bank Photo Collection (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/worldbank/25613452631

What Comes Next for Canadian Digital Policy Under a Liberal Minority Government?

In the closing months of the last Liberal majority government mandate, I spoke to a government official about the lessons learned from the prior four years. Their response?  If we knew then what we know now, we would have moved much faster on policy. The four years moves very quickly and if you don’t manage to lay the groundwork and introduce proposed legislation within the first 12 – 24 months, it becomes very difficult to enact given competing policy priorities, demands on committee time, Senate review, and a myriad of other challenges.

As I think about what comes next for Canadian digital policy under the new Liberal minority government, those words strike me as more relevant than ever. Even if the government runs more like a majority than a minority (which certainly seems likely on digital policy as no one is forcing an election over privacy or wireless pricing), the same ministers return to their portfolios (which may or may not happen) and the same committee structures return largely unchanged (which will not happen since that INDU chair Dan Ruimy was not re-elected), picking up where the government left off in June will not be easy. Further, the Liberal platform provides the roadmap for future reforms, but moving rapidly on these issues – particularly given expectations that a minority government’s mandate may run shorter than a majority – suggests that quick wins will be preferred to extensive legislative reform.

So what are likely next steps on digital policy?

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October 23, 2019 1 comment News