The Supreme Court of Canada heard three of the five scheduled copyright cases yesterday in the first day of an unprecedented focus on copyright at Canada’s highest court. The hearing drew many of Canada’s top copyright lawyers and featured a court that was highly engaged in the morning session but content to allow the lawyers to make their case with scant interruption in the afternoon. The three cases involved the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (whether downloading a video game involves communication to the public of the music in the game), the large telcos (music downloads), and Bell v. SOCAN (song previews as fair dealing).
There were several notable developments and lines of questioning. First, the fair dealing discussion that dominated the Bell v. SOCAN case would be familiar to anyone who has followed the debate on Bill C-11 as the usual suspects trotted out the usual scare tactics. The arguments included SOCAN likening music previews to ice cream samples (and therefore not worthy of being treated as research for fair dealing purposes), CRIA arguing for a “circumscribed definition of fair dealing”, and CSI claiming that including consumer research within fair dealing could put Canada offside its international obligations.
None of these arguments gained any real traction with the court.
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BattleGoat Studios is a Canadian software developer founded in 2000. The company has release several PC games that have won widespread recognition. It has also been outspoken on copyright reform, providing a submission to the C-32 legislative committee that stated the following on digital locks:
The addition of one simple principle to C-32 would make the bill acceptable:
That the circumvention of Technical Protection Measures be permitted for non-infringing uses. This would meet the requirements of the WIPO treaties, and it would properly permit consumers to use their Fair Dealing rights and exemptions. It would still afford protection to content creators and publishers, especially against the “large scale” infringement that Ministers Moore and Clement say are the targets of Copyright Reform.
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University of Toronto law professor Lisa Austin has a Globe op-ed on lawful access that highlights the difference between phone book data and Internet data likely captured by the forthcoming legislation.
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