Bill C-18, the online news bill whose foundation is mandated payments for links, has unsurprisingly sparked reaction from Google and Facebook that raises the possibility of stopping linking to Canadian news. In an act of obvious retribution, the government responded to the companies response with a motion from Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage Chris Bittle that demanded a wide range of internal and external documents dating back years and even looped in the private correspondence of companies, NGOs, journalists and potentially of thousands of Canadians. At committee, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather introduced a motion that removed some of the most problematic elements, but still left in place what is best described as a fishing expedition.
Perrin Beatty is a former Cabinet Minister under Prime Ministers Clark and Mulroney, was named President of the CBC by Jean Chretien, and is now the President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. His members are split in their views of Bill C-18, but not on the motion at Heritage committee. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the concerns with the motion and the dangerous precedent it sets.
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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been one of the most vocal supporters of the TPP and intellectual property reform. It recently waded into the case that most clearly crystallizes the dangers of trade and IP in Canada: the Eli Lilly claim for compensation from Canadian taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars due to a pair of patent law decisions. Most patent experts believe that Canada has a strong defence, yet that has not stopped the foreign pharmaceutical company from seeking $500 million in damages.
Last month, several groups submitted amicus briefs to the dispute resolution panel, including one from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (there is also a submission from CIPPIC and the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy). The Chamber suggests that declining spending in research and development may be due to legal uncertainty, despite years of declining research and development expenditures by international pharmaceutical companies in Canada that predates the Eli Lilly issue. The brief saves the money quote until the last paragraph:
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The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology continues its hearing on the Digital Privacy Act (Bill S-4) yesterday, with appearances from Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Marketing Association. Therrien expressed general support for the bill, but concern with the expanded voluntary disclosure provision.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Marketing Association seemed to take the committee by surprise by criticizing a provision in the bill that clarifies what constitutes meaningful consent. The proposed provision states:
6.1 For the purposes of clause 4.3 of Schedule 1, the consent of an individual is only valid if it is reasonable to expect that an individual to whom the organization’s activities are directed would understand the nature, purpose and consequences of the collection, use or disclosure of the personal information to which they are consenting.
That provision should be uncontroversial given that it only describes what most would take to mean consent, namely that the person to whom the activities are directed would understand the consequences of consent. Indeed, Therrien expressed support for the change, noting:
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As I posted last March, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce plans to launch a new IP coalition that will counter the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright with a call for stronger IP protection. The Globe is reporting that the coalition will launch on Monday. The Chamber is also featuring a […]
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