Archive for February, 2014

Downloading Decision: Federal Court Establishes New Safeguards on Disclosures in File Sharing Suits

The federal court has released its much anticipated decision in Voltage Pictures v. Does, a case involving demands that TekSavvy, a leading independent ISP, disclose the identities of roughly 2,000 subscribers alleged to have downloaded movies without authorization. The case attracted significant attention for several reasons: it is the first major “copyright troll” case in Canada involving Internet downloading (the recording industry previously tried unsuccessfully to sue 29 alleged file sharers), the government sought to discourage these file sharing lawsuits against individuals by creating a $5,000 liability cap for non-commercial infringement, TekSavvy ensured that affected subscribers were made aware of the case and CIPPIC intervened to ensure the privacy issues were considered by the court. Copies of all the case documents can be found here.

The court set the tone for the decision by opening with the following quote from a U.S. copyright case:

“the rise of so-called ‘copyright trolls’ – plaintiffs who file multitudes of lawsuits solely to extort quick settlements – requires courts to ensure that the litigation process and their scarce resources are not being abused.”

The court was clearly sensitive to the copyright troll concern, noting that “given the issues in play the answers require a delicate balancing of privacy rights versus the rights of copyright holders. This is especially so in the context of modern day technology and users of the Internet.”

So how did the court strike the balance?

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February 20, 2014 114 comments News

It Only Takes One: Will the Spectrum Auction Lead to a New National Wireless Carrier?

The old adage in real estate that it only takes one buyer held true in the Canadian 700 MHz spectrum auction. After potential new entrants such as Verizon declined to enter the Canadian market and Wind Mobile dropped out of the bidding at the last minute, many declared the spectrum auction a failure. Industry Minister James Moore and the government got the last laugh, however, with the auction generating $5.3 billion and the emergence of potential new national wireless player – Videotron (parent company is Quebecor). There had been some speculation that Quebecor might make a move outside of Quebec (Nowak, Corcoran) and seeing the company scoop up prime spectrum in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia offers renewed hope for a more competitive environment.

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February 20, 2014 5 comments News

CRTC Launches Lopsided Talk TV Consult: Raises Prospect of Net Regulation & Net Neutrality Violation

The CRTC launched the second phase of its Talk TV consultation with a series of questions that place the big regulatory issues squarely on the table. After asking some basic data questions, the consultation addresses a series of issues with scenarios that are framed in a lopsided manner. The consultation addresses hot button issues such as online video, pick-and-pay channels, and simultaneous substitution, but the options presented to respondents are limited and skewed toward Internet regulation for online video or supporting the status quo for conventional broadcast. For example, access to more U.S. programming is presented as a choice between increased fees, lost Canadian jobs, or larger television packages with Canadian channels. The online video discussion is premised on new CRTC regulations that with a series of increased fee options presented.

If this consultation is a signal of where the CRTC is headed, not only is the notion of true pick-and-pay channels dead and simultaneous substitution alive, but the Commission may be willing to toss out net neutrality in a race to regulate online video services. The issues raised in the consultation:

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February 19, 2014 21 comments News

CBC’s All In the Day: Should Netflix be Regulated?

I appeared on All in a Day to discuss whether Netflix with its growing relevance to the broadcasting sector should be regulated by the CRTC.

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February 18, 2014 Comments are Disabled News Interviews, Tv / Radio

Canadian Digital Strategy Takes Shape With 2014 Budget

Appeared in the Toronto Star on February 15, 2014 as Digital Strategy Finally Takes Shape With Federal Budget In 2010, the Canadian government launched a consultation on developing a national digital strategy. Despite obvious interest from provincial governments, technology companies, and the public, the issue has languished for years. Successive […]

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February 15, 2014 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive