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Game of Thrones - House Targaryen and House Lannister banners by Heather Paul CC BY-ND 2.0

The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 204: What Could Have Been for the Bill S-210 Hearings

Bill S-210, the mandated age verification bill for pornography sites that in reality targets everything from Google Search to Netflix, was expected to be the subject of extensive hearings by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. But after a Conservative filibuster, it appears that there will be only one hearing and that the bill will be reported back to the House unamended. Before that vote, this week’s Law Bytes podcast offers up a “what could have been” hearing on the bill. It features my mock opening statement alongside responses to some of the actual questions raised by MPs on issues such as privacy, website blocking, and poorly defined terms in the bill.

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June 3, 2024 5 comments Podcasts
Username and password 20170626, Santeri Viinamäki, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Huge Win for Copyright User Rights in Canada: Federal Court Rules Digital Lock Rules Do Not Trump Fair Dealing

The Federal Court has issued a landmark decision (Blacklock’s Reports v. Attorney General of Canada) on copyright’s anti-circumvention rules which concludes that digital locks should not trump fair dealing. Rather, the two must co-exist in harmony, leading to an interpretation that users can still rely on fair dealing even in cases involving those digital locks. The decision could have enormous implications for libraries, education, and users more broadly as it seeks to restore the copyright balance in the digital world. The decision also importantly concludes that merely requiring a password does not meet the standard needed to qualify for copyright rules involving technological protection measures. If this all sounds technical, this post provides the necessary background and then reviews the decision.

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June 1, 2024 12 comments News
Remember Who You Are by Thomas Hawk CC BY-NC 2.0

This is Who We Are Now

There was another shooting at a Jewish school in Montreal yesterday, which led to what has become the Canadian version of “thoughts and prayers”, namely a politician lamenting that “this isn’t who we are.” But months of escalating antisemitism make it clear that this is exactly who we are. Just this week, there were shootings at two Jewish schools in Canada, testimony at an Ottawa school board hearing on appalling antisemitism, a mother pulled her child out of a Burlington school due to antisemitism, a lawsuit was filed against OCAD, an Ontario university, for failing to provide Jewish students with a safe environment, and four university presidents told a Commons committee that antisemitism is a problem on campus and that the messaging coming out of the encampments are antisemitic. And it’s only Thursday.

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May 30, 2024 5 comments News
Curb Your Enthusiasm NYC by jonasosthassel CC BY 2.0

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Why Bill S-210 Could Mandate CRTC-Backed Age Verification For Streaming Services Like Netflix, Crave and CBC Gem

There are many reasons to be concerned about Bill S-210, the mandated age verification bill that raises significant privacy and freedom of expression risks and which is being improbably backed by Conservative MPs. The bill would mandate age verification technologies that the Privacy Commissioner of Canada says creates concern given missing safeguards, it establishes website blocking that government officials warn could undermine net neutrality and an open Internet, and its broad scope goes beyond pornography websites to include search and social media. But beyond those concerns, government officials have now zeroed in another problem: the definition of “sexually explicit material” used in the bill effectively captures streaming services such as Netflix, Crave, Prime, and CBC Gem. As a result, watching a show such as Game of Thrones or some episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm on a cable or satellite package comes only with a rating and warning, whereas streaming it via Crave would involve a mandated age verification process.

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May 29, 2024 5 comments News
PowerBall 100 Million by bbyrnes59 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Behind-the-Scenes Bill C-18 Battle: How Newspapers, Big Broadcasters and the CBC Are Trying to Seize Control Over How Google Money is Allocated to Canadian Media

Bill C-18, the Online News Act, is best known for two things: the government’s bad bet that Meta was bluffing when it said it would block news links in response to a system that mandated payments for links (news links have now been blocked for 10 months in Canada) and its attempt to salvage the legislation by striking a deal with Google worth $100 million annually. The Google deal has receded into the background, but the behind the scenes there is an intense battle over who will be selected to administer and allocate the annual $100 million. The outcome – which will be decided by Google by June 17th – will have enormous implications for Canadian media for years to come since it is anticipated that Google and the selected collective will negotiate a five year deal worth $500 million. Sources say that two proposals have emerged: a big media consortium led by News Media Canada (NMC), the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and the CBC, pitted against a proposal spearheaded by a group of independent and digital publishers and broadcasters that is promising a more transparent and equitable governance approach.

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May 28, 2024 6 comments News