The Letters of The Law: The Year in Law and Technology from A to Z

While I was away last week, the Toronto Star published my annual A to Z review of the year in law and technology (Toronto Star version, Tyee version, homepage version).  From Access Copyright to Zeke's Gallery, there was rarely a dull moment in 2007.

A is for Access Copyright, the copyright collective that launched a $10 million lawsuit against Staples and the Business Depot over a decidedly old copying technology – photocopiers.

B is for Breach notification, the much-needed regulation recommended by a House of Commons committee.  If implemented, it would require organizations to publicly disclose instances when consumer personal information is placed at risk due to a security breach.  

C is for Wayne Crookes, the B.C. businessman and former Green Party organizer who launched Internet libel lawsuits against some of the Internet’s best known companies including Google, Yahoo!, and Wikimedia (and this columnist).

D is for the Do-Not-Call registry, which was revived by the CRTC with a flurry of new rules and a public call for a registry operator.  Years after Canadian do-not-call legislation was first introduced, the registry is finally expected to begin operations in 2008.

E is for eBay, which was ordered by the Federal Court of Canada to disclose the identities of hundreds of Canadian Power Sellers to the Canada Revenue Agency.  CRA suspects that some sellers may not be collecting the requisite sales taxes for their online sales.

F is for Facebook, the popular social media site that boasts eight million Canadian users. The site played a pivotal role in fostering a grassroots movement against U.S.-style copyright reforms.

G is for GSM, the dominant standard for cellphone providers worldwide.  With only one GSM operator in Canada (Rogers), the government announced new spectrum rules that guaranteed space for new operators in the hopes of fuelling increased competition.

H is for Hush Communications, the B.C.-based company that was ordered to hand over private emails to U.S. officials investigating online steroid sales.

I is for the International Music Score Library Project, a popular Canadian website that featured thousands of public domain musical scores. The site was taken down after a European company objected to the availability of the scores outside Canada.

J is for the Jewish New Year cards Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent to thousands of Canadians.  The cards raised uncomfortable privacy questions about the collection and use of personal information by Canada's political parties.

K is for Kraft Foods, which lost a key Supreme Court of Canada copyright case involving the importation of chocolate from Europe.  Despite the loss, Kraft re-launched the suit later in the year.   

L is for Lawful access and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day's about-face on the mandatory disclosure of Internet service provider (ISP) customer name and address information.  After facing questions about a secret consultation on the issue, Day pledged not to introduce legislation mandating disclosure without court oversight.

M is for Movie piracy, which attracted considerable attention after Hollywood studios claimed that Canada is a leading source of pirated movies.  In response, the federal government adopted new anti-camcording legislation in June.

N is for the NHLPA, which dismissed its Executive Director following revelations that players' private emails were viewed without their knowledge.

O is for the Open access rules adopted by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, one of Canada's leading research granting institutions.  The new rules require researchers to ensure that their work is openly available to the public within six months of publication.

P is for Industry Minister Jim Prentice, who tackled some of technology's most controversial issues, including the wireless spectrum auction and copyright reform.

Q is for QuebecTorrent, the Quebec-based “torrent tracker” that was sued by a group of cultural groups on the grounds that the site facilitates copyright infringement.

R is for Regina, Saskatchewan, one of several cities in the province that benefited from a municipal wireless initiative.  Similar efforts occurred in other cities and towns across the country as communities worked to bridge the digital divide.

S is for Shaping, the controversial ISP practice that limits the bandwidth allocated to certain applications.  The growing use of traffic shaping by Canadian ISPs led to mounting calls for net neutrality legislation.

T is for Ticketmaster, which changed its online marketing practices following complaints to the Alberta Privacy Commissioner.

U is for Union des Consommateurs, the Quebec consumer group that lost a Supreme Court of Canada battle with Dell Computer over the enforceability of Dell's online contract.

V is for VANOC, the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, which persuaded the federal government to pass special legislation that grants it unique powers to guard against unauthorized use of the Olympic marks.

W is for U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, who aggressively called on Canada to reform its intellectual property laws, which he labeled the "weakest in the G7."

X is for the unknown hacker that attacked the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission website, raising concerns about the security of information held by the nation's nuclear watchdog.

Y is for YouTube, which was ordered to remove a video posted by a disgruntled law firm client.  The Ontario judge ruled that the video would cause the lawyer "significant and irreparable harm" if left for public viewing.

Z is for Zeke's Gallery, a Montreal art gallery owner and blogger, who was ordered to take down posts from his blog following a cyber-libel suit from a rival gallery.


  1. Consumed Consumer says:

    Happy New Year, Professor!
    You are our EFF & Prof Lessig combined. Keep doing your amazing work!

  2. MG definitely knows his ABCs!