Celebrating Internet Freedom Day: When the Internet Met Copyright

Today is Internet Freedom Day, a day to celebrate efforts to ensure an open and free Internet. Coming on the anniversary of the Wikipedia blackout that successfully stopped the Stop Online Piracy Act in the United States, it is worth thinking about the many successes (ACTA, Internet surveillance in Canada), failures (TPP, digital locks in Canadian copyright law), and tragedies (Aaron Swartz) that have occurred in the past year.

Last fall, I delivered a keynote address at the University of Saskatchewan for its Technology Week 2012 that focused on these issues. The talk was titled When the Internet Met Copyright and can be viewed via a stream here (sorry no embed available).


  1. Internet Freedom Day, an interesting moniker. I’m sure it will have a different meaning depending on your point of view. How does the saying go … “May you live in interesting times”?

    From my point of view, and I think many of those in the general population if they take the time to consider, copyright has to evolve. True, it has done this over time, but this fish now needs to grow legs.

    The internet is here to stay, opposing forces are at work to either:

    1) Restrict the free flow of information …


    2) Free it …

    Of course there is a lot between and outside these extremes, but it seems to me evident that the staus quo, as much as some incumbents would prefer otherwise, will fail to stand.

  2. David Collier-Brown says:

    What just *internet* freedom ???
    I think we need more broad-based freedom, the Internet is just a new place to find we don’t have freedoms.

    To borrow a line from Rick Falkvinge, I need the freedom to write a letter, give it to the postman and know it will be delivered unopened to the addressee. I have that if the letter is on paper, but not if it’s electronic and passing through a certain large nearby country.

    I used to only worry about that if I wanted to write to a fellow-kid pen-pal in The Soviet Union… I’m less than impressed with not being free to talk confidentially with my own American cousins.

    If I start having to worry about that in Canada, I’m going to start making invidious comparisons!


  3. About your UofSask presentation speech
    Dear Dr. Geist:

    I have always been an admirer of your work. And am a major fan of your perspective on internet copyright and it’s freedoms. But for the first time EVER I watched a presentation (yours) from start to finish. The content of course was chock full of substance to say the least. But I must confess that your non-stop, relentless fluency and continuity throughout your 60+ minutes blew my mind. As someone who is fairly comfortable doing presentations I MARVEL at your ability to speak continuously without pause or even a sip of water (which you reached for after you finished). Is there anywhere on your blog that you speak to such issues. Quite frankly YOU SIR ARE AWESOME, both in content and form. I salute you.

    With the greatest regard,


  4. Yi Jianxiong: from China says:

    reuestr for When the Internet Met Copyright
    Dear Prof.Geist,
    This topic particularly interests me. Would you please email the address to me? My E-mail is Thanks in advance.
    In addition, after you replied to me on Dec.21,2012, I have sent out two letters to you. Would you please give me a relpy at your earliest convenience? Thanks a lot.

    With the greatest regard,

    Yi Jinaxiong

  5. pat donovan says:

    freedom, yes.
    AFTER the ISPs stop censoring content (gay chats, AOL e-mail)
    “” the feds stop oppressing politics (
    “” manufacturers get rid of region 1 nonsense (DVDs)

    and so forth. Big bro is a gov’t contract, so mi-li witch hunts are the order of the day, NOT anything useful.

    Not porn, gambling, scams, zombie-bot invasions or retail sales. (Big pharm excluded)

    Oh, and the previously free (copyright expired public domain) is under value-added managment now. (fees)

    as usual, freedom of info, privacey and property are under attack. AND the web is a cop, priest and judge (both admin law reversal of onus and pre-crime profiling)

    all rolled into one.

    fink world, re-run world and putting the prop in propaganda.



  6. Luis Gutierrez says:

    internet should be free and ran by people

  7. Hi.

    FYI – This link to your keynote address, both above and on the Tech Week page from the University of Saskatchewan is currently leading to an operating budget meeting from Feb 26, 2013

  8. Teresa Sturgess says:

    Marketing Instructor, NAIT
    Michael, the link on your blog is no longer pointing to your presentation but rather a budget town hall. Help! Is there anyway this tragic link can be fixed? Really looking forward to your presentation.