Dubbed by some as the worst film ever made, The Room has become a cult-like film classic. Written, directed, produced and starring Tommy Wiseau, the movie was the subject of the 2017 film The Disaster Artist and a documentary titled Room Full of Spoons by Canadian documentary filmmakers who wanted to tell the story of the film and its popularity. The documentary has been the subject of years of litigation with Wiseau at one point obtaining an injunction to stop its release.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently released an important decision in the case with significant implications for creators involving copyright, fair dealing, moral rights, and a host of other legal issues. Bob Tarantino, Counsel at Dentons Canada LLP, joins me on the podcast this week to discuss why the decision will be welcome news for documentary filmmakers.
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The state of Internet access in Canada has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years as consumers and businesses alike assess whether Canada has kept pace with the need for universal access to fast, affordable broadband. What is now beyond debate is that there are still hundreds of thousands of Canadians without access to broadband services from local providers and that for those that have access, actual speeds may be lower than advertised and below the targets set by the CRTC, Canada’s broadcast and telecommunications regulator.
CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, manages the dot-ca domain and has played an increasingly important role on Internet policy matters. CIRA recently submitted a report on the urban-rural broadband divide as part of a CRTC process on potential barriers to broadband in underserved areas. Josh Tabish from CIRA joins me this week on the podcast to discuss the IPT, the CRTC submission, and the future of universal access to broadband in Canada.
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Canadian media organizations face difficult challenges in an age of virtually unlimited Internet competition, a dramatic shift toward digital advertising, and an unprecedented global economic and health crisis. That has led media groups to urge the federal government to “take on” Google and Facebook by requiring them to fund local media. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thus far declined to do so. That may spark criticism in some quarters but claims that government-mandated payments from Internet companies will solve the sector’s ills are unconvincing.
My Financial Post op-ed notes that everyone agrees the media sector is more competitive than ever. News organizations such as the New York Times and Washington Post, digital media companies like The Athletic and The Logic, podcasters competing with mainstream media audio offerings and the CBC’s continued digital expansion all offer compelling and competitive news alternatives. This breadth of choice for Canadian news consumers isn’t the fault of Google or Facebook. It is a reflection of low barriers to market entry and a proliferation of services that often do a better job than many established media companies of serving specialized content.
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The Federal Court of Appeal delivered its long-awaited copyright ruling in the York University v. Access Copyright case last month. This latest decision effectively confirms that educational institutions can opt-out of the Access Copyright licence since it is not mandatory and that any claims of infringement will be left to copyright owners to address, not Access Copyright. The decision is a big win for York University and the education community though they were not left completely happy with the outcome given the court’s fair dealing analysis.
The decision also represents a major validation for University of Toronto law professor Ariel Katz, whose research and publications, which made the convincing case that a ‘mandatory tariff’ lacks any basis in law”, was directly acknowledged by the court and played a huge role in its analysis. Professor Katz joins me on the podcast this week to talk about the case, the role of collective licensing in copyright law, and what might come next for a case that may force Access Copyright to rethink the value proposition of its licence.
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In the months before the coronavirus outbreak, numerous governments around the world enthusiastically jumped on the “regulate tech” train. Digital tax proposals, content regulation requirements, national digital spending mandates, as well as new privacy and data governance rules were viewed by many as essential to respond to the increasing power and influence of digital giants such as Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon.
My Globe and Mail op-ed notes the pandemic has not only sparked a massive shift in economic and health policy priorities, but it is also likely to reorient our views of the tech sector. Companies that only months ago were regarded as a threat are now integral to the delivery of medical equipment, critical to the continuing function of workplaces in a work-from-home world, and the platforms for online education for millions of students. Billions of people rely on the sector for entertainment, communication with friends and family, and as the gateway to health information.
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