The Year in Tech Law and Policy: My Annual A to Z Review

The past twelve months in law and technology were exceptionally active, with new legislation, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearings, national consultations, and very public battles over digital issues. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) takes a look back at 2009 from A to Z:

A is for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, the secret copyright treaty that generated opposition at home and abroad as details on proposed language leaked out.

B is for Chet Baker, the former jazz great and current lead plaintiff in a $6 billion copyright class action lawsuit filed against the Canadian recording industry for its failure to pay artists for the use of their work.

C is for the Conference Board of Canada, which withdrew three intellectual property reports after acknowledging they contained plagiarized material.

D is for drugs for Africa legislation, which unexpectedly passed second reading in the House of Commons and will be considered by a committee next year.
E is for eBay power sellers, who faced an aggressive campaign by the Canada Revenue Agency to collect unpaid GST.  The campaign followed a successful legal effort to force eBay to disclose the sellers' identities.
F is for Facebook, which agreed to make significant privacy changes following a well-publicized investigation by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

G is for Google Street View, which launched in Canada this fall, but not before a House of Commons committee probed the likely impact of the new mapping feature.

H is for Louis Rene Hache, who was convicted on charges under the Criminal Code for the illegal reproduction of the film "Dan in Real Life" at a Montreal movie theatre.

I is for i4i, the tiny Toronto firm that scored a big patent victory over software giant Microsoft.

J is for Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore and Industry Minister Tony Clement, who presided over Canada's first national copyright consultation since 2001.

K is for CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein, who was in the spotlight with hearings on regulation of new media, Internet traffic management, and broadcast fees.  

L is for Lawful access legislation introduced by Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan in June.  Bills C-46 and C-47 languished, however, and have yet to be discussed at committee.

M is for marketing claims on network speed and reliability, the subject of multiple lawsuits that forced Bell and Rogers to drop claims from their advertising campaigns.
N is for net neutrality, which made regulatory and political progress with the release of new CRTC guidelines as well as garnering political support from both the federal Liberal and NDP parties.  

O is for one-click, the controversial business method patent that was denied validity by the Canadian Patent Appeal Board.
P is for Psion, the Toronto-owned firm that threatened Dell over the use of the term “netbook.”

Q is for the Queen v. Vasic, a criminal case in which an Ontario court ruled that combining Internet provider customer name and address information with IP address data could render the information sensitive.

R is for Heather Robertson, the freelance writer whose longstanding copyright class action lawsuit neared a conclusive settlement.

S is for spam legislation that was introduced by Tony Clement in April. Bill C-27 is currently before the Senate.

T is for the TV Tax and Local TV Matters marketing campaigns that irritated Canadians from coast to coast.

U is for unwanted telemarketing calls that kept coming despite the existence of a national do-not-call list.

V is for Joanne Veit, an Alberta judge who ruled that Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner Frank Work was wrong when he concluded the City of Edmonton can't force pawnshops to upload personal client details to an outside company's database.

W is for WindMobile, the operating name of Globalive, a new wireless carrier that was told by the CRTC that it did not comply with foreign control restrictions, only to have the federal Cabinet overrule the regulator weeks later.

X is for the future “X” on electronic voting technologies, which Elections Canada reported it is considering.

Y is for YouTube, which received a video takedown demand from Canada Post.  The crown corporation objected to a union-inspired video about the mail carrier's CEO.

Z is for Zoocasa, the real estate search site that was sued by Century 21 Canada for scraping listings from its website.


  1. grunt
    personally, I woulda mentioned the tendency of corperations to take over the bureaucracies that regulate them.

    a NEW form of governance we could live without.. the CRTC got one,
    scandals at food+drug, electric cars..

    sword and scandal movies galore, eh?

    generally, ya gotta start a NEW one to get around the deadwood and corruption.


  2. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    Is that in public domain?
    This would make an excellent illustrated primer.

    Way cool Mr. Geist.

  3. Great article about big music labels…

  4. James Plotkin says:

    Chet Baker?
    Chet Baker died in the 80s. Did I miss something?