Trade tensions between Canada and the U.S. have been rising in recent weeks with the U.S. Build Back Better Act proposing to create a tax credit for electronic vehicles that Canadian officials argue violates the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement. The U.S. plan is said to be the equivalent of a 34 percent tariff on Canadian assembled electric vehicles. While trade disputes are not particularly noteworthy, the Canadian government response certainly is. Last week, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Trade Minister Mary Ng wrote to eight U.S. Senators with the following warning:
Beyond possible retaliatory actions, if the U.S. proceeds with the tax credit provisions as drafted, we would see this as a significant change in the balance of concessions agreed to in the USMCA. As such, we would consider the possible suspension of USMCA concessions of importance to the U.S. in return. Those concessions could include suspending USMCA dairy tariff-rate quotas and delaying the implementation of USMCA copyright changes.
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The right to repair, whether consumer electronics, farm machinery or even health and medical equipment, is an issue that affects everyone. Given the implications for consumer and property rights, the sustainability of the agricultural sector, and protecting the environment, ensuring a right to repair would seem like an obvious political winner. Yet the issue has lagged, not the least of which because of restrictive copyright laws that can limit the ability to repair personal property.
Aaron Perzanowski is a law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio and the Associate Director of the Spangenberg Center for Law, Technology & the Arts. Professor Perzanowski is the author of the forthcoming book, The Right to Repair, to be published by Cambridge University Press early next year. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to explain why the right to repair matters, how copyright fits into this, and what reforms are needed to address the issue.
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Copyright did not figure prominently in either the government’s election platform or the Speech from the Throne, but the two departments responsible for copyright policy – Innovation, Science and Industry led by Francois-Philippe Champagne and Canadian Heritage led by Pablo Rodriguez – have both been actively consulting on a myriad of issues this year. The departments just released the submissions they received to one of three consultations on copyright, this one on intermediary liability issues. There was a prior consultation on copyright term extension (expected in some form in 2022 given the obligations under the USMCA) and another on innovation policies such as an exception for text and data mining to support the development of artificial intelligence. I submitted responses to all three consultations (term extension here, AI will be posted shortly).
My submission in the intermediary liability consultation focuses on two main points.
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Privacy breaches have become increasingly commonplace as businesses of all sizes grapple with how to keep customer information secure and what to do when things go wrong. The issue is particularly challenging for small and medium sized business, who are forced to navigate a regulatory framework that isn’t easy and can be extremely expensive. Enter JusTech, a project launched by Ritesh Kotak, Ayushi Dave, and Ryan Mosoff, three University of Ottawa law students who leveraged legal innovation hackathons to create a free online service that walks small businesses through the regulations and makes compliance manageable. I’ve been proud to serve as an advisor to JusTech, which provides some notable lessons on legal innovation and privacy law. Ritesh, Ayusha, and Ryan join the Law Bytes podcast to discuss.
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Canada’s strategy to ensure that everyone from coast to coast to coast has access to affordable high speed Internet services is widely viewed as a failure and the source of ongoing frustration for many, particularly those in rural, remote and indigenous communities. Those communities often face the prospect of no broadband access or at best expensive, unreliable services. The Council of Canadian Academies recently convened an expert panel on High-Throughput Networks for Rural and Remote Communities in Canada.
The panel’s report is a must read for anyone concerned with equitable and affordable Internet access and the consequences of leaving many communities – particularly indigenous communities – behind. The panel was chaired by Karen Barnes, the former president of Yukon University and included Professor Catherine Middleton, the Director of the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management at Ryerson University. They join the Law Bytes podcast this week to discuss the panel, the report, and the recommendations for policy action.
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