Archive for May, 2012

The Government’s “10,000 Consultations” on Copyright

Last week’s House of Commons copyright debate on Bill C-11 included a curious comment from Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who, in trying to demonstrate the amount of debate that went into the bill, stated that “more than 10,000 consultations have been held across Canada.” The “10,000 consultations” claim made it onto the Hill Times front page article on the bill titled “House Set to Pass Controversial Copyright Bill Next Week, After 10,000 Consultations.”

The problem with the “10,000 consultations” claim is that it isn’t entirely accurate. Paradis is likely combining the total responses to the 2009 copyright consultation (just over 8,300) with submissions or witnesses to the Bill C-32/C-11 legislative committees (roughly 300). Throw in the two town hall meetings and private meetings with stakeholders and you might come close to 10,000. However, if Paradis is relying on comments and submissions from the public to the government, the 10,000 figure massively understates the public response. During the same debate, Liberal MP Geoff Regan indicated that his office received over 80,000 emailed submissions over the past several months alone. Three weeks after the introduction of Bill C-61, Industry Canada received tens of thousands of actual letters. When you combine the additional MP meetings, thousands of letters and emails to MPs, the number of submissions on this copyright bill is at least 10 times the Paradis estimate.

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May 25, 2012 23 comments News

India Passes Digital Lock Rules That Link Circumvention to Copyright Infringement

India’s two Houses of Parliament passed copyright reform legislation this month that includes digital lock provisions. The Indian approach is very similar to what dozens of groups recommended for Canada as it links circumvention to copyright infringement. The new Indian digital lock rules state: 65A. (1)  Any person who circumvents […]

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May 25, 2012 5 comments News

Why Universities Should Not Sign the Access Copyright – AUCC Model Licence

Copyright has emerged as a hot issue on Canadian university campuses in recent weeks as schools consider whether to sign the Access Copyright model licence negotiated with the AUCC.  Several schools, including UBC, Athabasca, Windsor, and Winnipeg have already indicated that they will not sign the licence, while others (such as Queen’s, Victoria and Calgary) have reluctantly signed the letter of intent. Many groups have voiced their strong objection to the licence, including the CAUT, APLA, BCLA, MLA, CFS, and CASA. These groups represent faculty, students, and librarians – the three groups within education most affected by the model licence.

Last week, I was asked by the Association of Professors Ottawa, the University of Ottawa faculty union, for my views. I opened my remarks by emphasizing a key misconception often fueled by Access Copyright and its supporters. The question being faced by the universities is not whether to pay for copyright works. Universities, faculty and students currently spend millions of dollars every year on copyright materials and will continue to do so. The only question is whether – in addition to existing expenditures on books, licences, and in support of open access – they should also pay the $26 per student fee to Access Copyright. 

I believe the answer is no for the following six key reasons:

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May 24, 2012 10 comments News

The Secret Lawful Access Regs: What the Gov Told the Telcos While Keeping the Public in the Dark

My post yesterday on a secret government – telecom lawful access working group attracted considerable attention with many understandably focused on the revelations that virtually all major Canadian telecom companies (with the notable exception of Shaw) actively worked with the government for months on lawful access legislation. Yet perhaps the most important document is a lawful access regulations policy document that offered guidance on plans for the extensive regulations that will ultimately accompany the Internet surveillance legislation. The specific document obtained under Access to Information is dated October 2010 and was created to support an earlier version of the lawful access bill.  However, the same government documents indicate that the policy document was provided to telecom providers last fall, including disclosure to the Canadian Network Operators Consortium in December 2011 after CNOC was at an event a month earlier with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and expressed support for the lawful access bill.

The regulations policy document are not the regulations per se, but rather a clear indication of planned regulations under the guise of a policy document. The document contains several key sections:

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May 23, 2012 13 comments News

How Canada’s Telecom Companies Have Secretly Supported Internet Surveillance Legislation

Canada’s proposed Internet surveillance was back in the news last week after speculation grew that government intends to keep the bill in legislative limbo until it dies on the order paper. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews denied the reports, maintaining that Bill C-30 will still be sent to committee for further study.

Since its introduction in mid-February, the privacy and law enforcement communities have continued to express their views on the bill, but Canada’s telecom service providers, which include the major telecom carriers and Internet service providers, have remained strangely silent. The silence is surprising given the enormous implications of the bill for the privacy of their customers and the possibility of millions of dollars in new surveillance equipment costs, active cooperation with law enforcement, and employee background checks.

While some attribute the Internet surveillance silence to an attempt to avoid picking sides in the high stakes privacy and security battle, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act offer a different, more troubling explanation. My weekly technology law column notes (Toronto Star version, homepage version) in the months leading up to the introduction Bill C-30, Canada’s telecom companies worked actively with government officials to identify key issues and to develop a secret Industry – Government Collaborative Forum on Lawful Access.

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May 22, 2012 31 comments Columns