Archive for September 11th, 2006

30 Days of DRM – Day 25: Statutory Obligations (Circumvention Rights)

Section 32.1 of the Copyright Act features a list of several exceptions that ensure that the Copyright Act is compatible with other federal statutes that might require copying that would otherwise constitute infringement.  While none of these exceptions are particularly crucial from a user perspective, the principle of consistently retaining […]

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September 11, 2006 Comments are Disabled News

The Final Tally from The Drake

Sam Bulte was briefly back in the political news recently as the Ignatieff campaign announced that they had received her endorsement.  The release brought to mind the last election and the fundraising controversy generated by the fundraiser at the Drake Hotel.  One of the most important aspects of election accountability and transparency are the Elections Act requirements for filing finance returns: candidates for national elections are required to submit a campaign finance return within 120 days of an election campaign and riding associations are required to submit annual reports by June 30th of the following calendar year. 

For those interested in the numbers from The Drake, the information has been a long time in coming. Days before the May 23rd deadline for the election campaign return, Bulte's official agent requested a three-month extension citing lost data and claiming that both the campaign and its bank had lost the records which needed to be reconstructed from microfiche.  Bulte's official agent filed the election campaign return days before the extension deadline and it has just been posted online.  The Parkdale High Park Liberal riding association 2005 annual return has still not been posted.  The riding association was granted a one-month extension in late June after it claimed computer problems.  The association has still not filed that information in violation of the Elections Act and could face possible de-certification.

The election return does provide some insight into Bulte's backers, which is relevant both to close the book on the election controversy and to gauge who is willing to provide financial support to MPs that favour DMCA-style copyright reform.

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September 11, 2006 4 comments News

30 Days of DRM – Day 24: Time Shifting (Circumvention Rights)

Given that my column today focuses on the WIPO Broadcast Treaty, the issue of time shifting and DRM comes to mind.  The concept of time shifting arose from the U.S. Supreme Court decision involving the legality of the Sony Betamax machine.  Arguments before the court focused on the fact that taping television programs simply enabled users to shift the time when they watch the taped program.  More than 20 years later, the VCR (and increasingly DVRs and PVRs) are commonplace and consumers give little thought to the legal consequences of copying television programs.

While such activity is protected in the U.S., there is nothing in the Copyright Act in Canada that would expressly permit time shifting.

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September 11, 2006 1 comment News

The Most Dangerous Treaty You’ve Never Heard About

With government negotiators and broadcast officials descending on Geneva this week to continue negotiations on the WIPO Broadcast Treaty, my weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) examines a proposal that started as an attempt to address the narrow issue of signal theft and has today mushroomed into a massive treaty that would grant broadcasters in some countries many new rights.  Many people are questioning the impact of the treaty, which includes an exclusive retranmission right, an extension in the term of protection for broadcasts, and the decision to make the exceptions and limitations in the treaty optional.  Indeed, even the Canadian delegation has wondered aloud whether the treaty would create a danger that some broadcasts might never fall into the public domain, effectively creating a perpetual broadcasting right.

The impact of the treaty on individuals and creators could be dramatic, potentially making it more difficult to record television shows for viewing at a later time, locking up content that is otherwise in the public domain, and necessitating that film makers obtain twice as many consents for the re-use of broadcast clips. 

The potential cost of the new rights is also significant, with Canadian broadcast distributors, including the major telecommunications companies that have begun offering high-definition television services, fearing that the new retransmission right alone could result in more than a half billion dollars in new royalty payments flowing out of Canada to U.S. broadcasters.

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September 11, 2006 1 comment Columns

Little Public Broadcast of Dangerous Broadcast Treaty

Appeared in the Toronto Star on September 11, 2006 as Leaders Weirdly Silent on Sweeping Broadcast Treaty Government negotiators and broadcast officials descend on Geneva this week to continue negotiations on a treaty that few people have heard about, yet one which may have damaging long-term consequences for consumers, technology […]

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September 11, 2006 4 comments Columns Archive