This morning the Supreme Court of Canada established a new defence in defamation cases in Grant v. Torstar Corp., which it is calling the "responsible communication" defence. The defence is designed to provide greater protection for communications on matters of public interest. The court establishes several conditions to the test, including the scope of its application. In a big win for new media and bloggers, it concludes that the defence applies broadly:
Archive for December 22nd, 2009
CRIA lobbyist Barry Sookman's blog is home this week to a guest post from Mihály Ficsor, a well-known international copyright author who is the former Assistant Director General of WIPO. Ficsor is closely associated with the creation of the WIPO Internet treaties and today works with the International Intellectual Property Alliance, the leading U.S. copyright lobby representing the RIAA, MPAA, BSA, and other groups. Unlike Bruce Lehman, another leading creator of the WIPO Internet treaties who has acknowledged that they (along with the resulting DMCA) have been a policy failure, Ficsor remains determined to fight for his baby.
The post is filled with remarkable vitriol toward those arguing for balanced copyright, with Ficsor warning of "free access revolutionaries" and against Canada becoming "an isolated hostage and victim of demagogue campaigns organized in the hatred-driven style of Maoist Guards as during that other brilliant 'cultural revolution.'" Most reasonable readers will likely dismiss the post on that basis alone. For those willing to look beyond it, however, the key question is whether the WIPO Internet treaties requires a prohibition on the distribution and manufacture of circumvention devices. Ficsor argues that they do, stating:
The allegation that the two Treaties do not require protection against the manufacture and distribution of unauthorized circumvention devices is completely groundless. The negotiation history of the Treaties clearly indicates that, although their anti-circumvention provisions finally used a more general language, they had been based on proposals extending to the prohibition of such activities.
While it is true that the initial U.S. proposals (which led to the WIPO Committee proposed language) targeted circumvention devices, the negotiation history actually shows that there was not consensus support for this language.