Archive for August 5th, 2008

61 Reforms to C-61, Day 32: TPMs – Perceptual Disability Provisions May Violate AODA

In light of yesterday's posting on the perceptual disabilities exception, which I argue creates a huge barrier for Canadians with disabilities since they will be unable to legally access devices that can be used to circumvent, it is worth considering whether Bill C-61 violates the spirit and letter of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (or will at a minimum necessitate a DRM accessibility standard).  The AODA was enacted in 2005 with the goal of "developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025." The Act will set out policy, practices, and other requirements that remove barriers with respect to goods and services.  It defines barriers as:

"anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice"

That definition would likely capture DRM and it definitely captures the combination of DRM and Bill C-61's anti-circumvention provisions.

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August 5, 2008 5 comments News

CRTC Says Requests “Valid and Should be Honoured”

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) builds on the CRTC's announcement last week that the national do-not-call registry (DNC) will be operational by September 30th.  I report that the CRTC also recently affirmed the ability for Canadians to use third-party websites – particularly – to opt-out telemarketing calls from organizations that are currently exempt under the law.

Last March, I established, a website that enables Canadians to opt-out of many exempted organizations with a few easy clicks at no cost. Visitors to the site are asked to enter their phone number (and email address if they wish) and to indicate their calling preferences for nearly 150 organizations. The public reaction has been extremely supportive.  Since its launch, the site has sent out millions of opt-out requests on behalf of tens of thousands of Canadians. The reaction from several leading associations has been less enthusiastic.  Within weeks of its debut, both the Canadian Marketing Association and the Canadian Bankers Association sent letters to CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein complaining about the service and seeking support for their position that requests generated from the site were invalid.  In fact, the CMA sent a notice to its members stating that "it is the view of the Association that members need not honour do-not-call requests that originate from the organization in question."

Von Finckenstein recently responded to the letters (CMA letter, CBA letter – posted with CRTC permission) with an unequivocal rejection of the complaints, providing a clear indication that failure to honour the opt-out requests could lead to significant penalties (companies face penalties of up to $15,000 per violation under the law).  

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August 5, 2008 8 comments Columns

“Limited Consultation, Considerable Action”

Another Canadian DMCA mashup hits the Internet, this one focusing on the lack of public consultation on Bill C-61.

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August 5, 2008 2 comments News

U.S. Court Rules in Favor of Cablevision DVR

A U.S. federal appeals court yesterday overturned a lower court decision that Cablevision's plans to offer a network-based PVR violate U.S. copyright law.  Bill C-61 explicitly prohibits the development of such a service in Canada.

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August 5, 2008 1 comment News

MCPS-PRS Alliance and Big Champagne Assess the Radiohead Experiment

Eric Garland and Will Page of MCPS-PRS Alliance have published a brief study on the effects of Radiohead freely releasing its album.  Garland notes in a media report that "the expectation among rights-holders is that, in order to create a success story, you must reduce the rate of piracy – […]

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August 5, 2008 3 comments News