Archive for August 14th, 2009

Is The MPAA Serious About Enforcing Its Copyrights in Canada?

The Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (and its parent MPAA), which represents the major Hollywood studios, is one of the leading voices for DMCA-style legislation.  It is also one of the most effective Canadian lobby groups as evidenced by the amazing speed with which it convinced Canada to become one of the only countries in the world to enact specific anti-camcording legislation (what made it particularly remarkable was that Canadian officials believed for months that the law already addressed the issue and the industry did little more than provide wildly inconsistent statistics and threaten to withhold some film screenings).

Interestingly, while the CMPDA claims that it needs stronger enforcement powers in Canada, David Allsebrook, a top IP lawyer with LudlowLaw, points out in his forthcoming submission to the copyright consultation that the industry has seemingly little interest in pursuing criminal copyright cases in Canada.  Allsebrook highlights the fact that the movie industry does not appear to regularly register its own films with CIPO.  Although registration is not required under the law, it is pretty standard if one anticipates possible enforcement action.  As Allsebrook notes:

The MPAA is trying to manoeuvre Canada and all other countries into enforcing its members’ rights for them, at the countries’ expense.  MPAA members have no intention of seeking criminal prosecution for copyright infringement of their movies in Canada. The MPAA’s strategy can be simply demonstrated. In order to prove criminal copyright infringement in Canada, the first step is to file in evidence a Canadian copyright registration, because it substitutes for expensive witnesses as proof of the existence and ownership of copyright, unless there is a reason to question its veracity. However to be admissible the copyright must have been registered in Canada before the infringement took place.  The ten top-grossing movies of 2009, as of the end of july, were all produced by members of the MPAA. Only three of the ten movies’ copyrights were registered in Canada by that time. The registration fee is $50.00, and registration may be done very simply, and online, from anywhere in the world.

The lack of registration is particularly telling since the MPAA believes that 90 percent of its piracy comes from copies of movies made by videotaping a showing of the movie in a cinema.  The most damaging piracy takes place at the beginning of the film’s release, when the infringing copies can circulate around the world electronically long before the film is exhibited or authorized copies released internationally. The MPAA members have not taken the most basic step towards stopping this activity in Canadian Courts.

I conducted a similar review of the top 10 grossing U.S. films as of last week.  At the moment, only half have Canadian copyright registrations.

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August 14, 2009 12 comments News

CIPPIC Launches

CIPPIC has launched an exciting new advocacy site – The site provides information and tools for speaking out on copyright, net neutrality, lawful access, and the ECPA.  The copyright section is the most robust at the moment, complete with a sample letter for the consultation and an Idea Torrent […]

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August 14, 2009 Comments are Disabled News

Green Party on Copyright Reform

Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Griffin Carpenter, the party's youth and education critic, have published an op-ed with their views on copyright. They point to three key principles: extend user rights through a flexible fair dealing mechanism, reform crown copyright and the public domain to build a healthy information […]

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August 14, 2009 6 comments News

Mad Men By-Passes Canadian Broadcast For iTunes

Media In Canada reports that Mad Men has decided to by-pass the conventional Canadian broadcast system and offer its third season on iTunes instead.  While the program will be available on its home network (AMC), the move suggests that producers believe there is more money to be made through Internet […]

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August 14, 2009 8 comments News

Writers Guild Canada Urges Action on Copyright

Writers Guild Canada is urging its members to speak out on copyright. The WGC's document promotes collective licencing, supports WIPO ratification, but warns against a DMCA-style approach.

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August 14, 2009 1 comment News