Over the past month, I’ve had the opportunity to appear before two House of Commons committees – International Trade and Industry, Science and Technology – to discuss the digital law and policy implications of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement. My opening remarks were nearly identical and focused on four issues: copyright term extension, the cultural exemption, privacy and data protection, and Internet platform liability. The Standing Committee on International Trade yesterday released its report on Bill C-4, the bill implementing CUSMA, with no changes, meaning that lobbying pressure to immediately extend the term of copyright was rejected.
Archive for February, 2020
The CUSMA Cost: My Appearances Before the Standing Committees on International Trade and Industry, Science and Technology
“We Don’t Have Any Specific Analysis”: CUSMA Negotiators Surprising Admission On Key Privacy Issues
Earlier this week, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology began hearings on Bill C-4, the bill designed to implement the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement. I appeared before the committee to discuss digital issues (more on the appearance in an upcoming post), but just prior to my panel, the team of lead negotiators from Global Affairs took questions from Members of Parliament.
The questioning opened with a stunning exchange between Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner and chief negotiator Steve Verheul on the privacy analysis (or lack thereof) conducted by Canadian officials:
Broadcast Panel Chair Says Canada Already Licenses News Organizations So Why Not Internet Companies?
Janet Yale, the chair of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel, appeared earlier this week before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to provide an update on the report. Her opening remarks directly addressed concerns regarding the regulation of news, claiming that there has been some confusion on the issue. Yet far from clearing up any “confusion”, Yale proceeded to inaccurately describe the state of news regulation in Canada and advocate for an expansive regulatory framework for Internet-based news aggregators:
Who Runs Canadian Telecom Policy Anyway?: Why the Telus Threats at the CRTC Will Backfire
The big headline story from the first week of the CRTC hearing into the wireless market was undoubtedly Telus CEO Darren Entwistle closing hours of testimony with a threat to slash investment and jobs if the Commission follows through with a mandated MVNO model. Entwistle told the CRTC:
There’s been a lot of conjecture related to disinvestment or reduced investment. It’s been a high topic related to what will happen as it pertains to MVNOs being introduced or another 25 percent price reduction being enforced, having already bettered the existing one that’s in place. And there are some views that this is just theatre perpetrated by the incumbents, in that if mandated MVNOs come to fruition or there’s an enforced second tier 25 percent reduction we will go on with status quo investing.
So one of the additional things I would like to file with you in confidence that I brought here today is a Board resolution at TELUS signed by all of our Board directors instructing management to pursue an investment reduction plan and a job reduction plan and a philanthropic giving reduction plan should these eventualities present themselves. And we’re discussing numbers where the reduction, and we’ll go public with it, but I’ll file with you the Board resolution, in the vicinity of a billion dollars of reduced investment over the next 5‑year. The reduced employment is in the zip code of 5,000 jobs over the next 5‑years.
In other words, in a bid to demonstrate that this was not theatre, Entwistle engaged in theatrics by pointing to a resolution from a board of which he is a member that supports his case.
The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 40: “Copyright Term Extension is a Tax on Consumers” – Paul Heald on What Extending Copyright Term Could Mean for Canada
Copyright term extension has emerged as a major policy issue in Canada in recent months. Canada’s general copyright term is life of the author plus 50 years and successive governments have rejected lobbying pressure to extend by an additional 20 years. That changed with the new NAFTA, which includes a life plus 70 years requirement. Canada negotiated a 30 month transition period with no need to extend the copyright term during that time. The Canadian copyright review recommended that any extension include a registration requirement for the extra 20 years.
Paul Heald is a law professor at the University of Illinois, where he has led the world in conducting extensive empirical analysis on the effects of copyright term extension and the value of the public domain. His work has used some creative methods examining data on sites such as Amazon and Wikipedia to learn more about the effects of term extension. He joined me on the podcast to discuss his findings and new work he has been doing on the data in Canada.