Post Tagged with: "Copyright Columns"

Bell’s PVR Legal Woes the Tip of the C-61 Iceberg

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) picks up on last week's story involving the Bell commercial touting a new digital video recorder that features an external hard drive permitting users to "record forever." The archiving functionality may sounds enticing, yet last week several media reports noted that Industry Minister Jim Prentice's Bill C-61 forbids Canadians from recording television programs for archival purposes. Indeed, the new "time shifting" provision in the Prentice bill contains at least a dozen restrictions that could leave consumers facing significant liability for those that fail to comply.  Innovative businesses do not fare much better as they will also be forced to shelve potential new services if the bill becomes law.  For example, Bill C-61 explicitly prohibits a network-based PVR that Telus has considered introducing into the Canadian market.  

These restrictions leave Canadians trailing the United States, where consumers have enjoyed the legal right to time shift for more than two decades without the statutory restrictions that Prentice has proposed.  Moreover, earlier this month a U.S. court ruled that Cablevision, a leading cable provider, can legally offer its network-based PVR. While it is tempting to focus on the need to improve the bill's PVR provisions, the reality is that the spotlight on Bell's promotion highlights a pervasive problem within Bill C-61.  Surprisingly for a political party that typically promotes "market based solutions," the bill introduces a complex regulatory framework for everyday consumer activities and represents an unprecedented incursion into the property rights of millions of Canadians.  

Just how far beyond restrictive television recording does Bill C-61 go?

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August 18, 2008 18 comments Columns

Public Left Out Of ACTA Talks

Appeared in the Toronto Star on July 28, 2008 as Public Left Out of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Talks Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the leaders of G8 countries closed their recent summit in Hokkaido, Japan by encouraging "the acceleration of negotiations to establish a new international legal framework, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade […]

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July 28, 2008 4 comments Columns Archive

Government Copyright Bill Fails Green Test

Appeared in the Toronto Star on July 21, 2008 as Government Copyright Bill Fails Green Test The environment is obviously one of the biggest issues of the moment.  The federal political parties are spending their summers trying to sell Canadians on their plans for the future, provincial governments are unveiling […]

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July 21, 2008 1 comment Columns Archive

Canadians Face Triple Lock on Apple iPhone

Amid rumours that Apple is scaling back on its delivery of the iPhone to Rogers, my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) focuses on the Canadian debut this week of the Apple iPhone. The arrival of a Canadian iPhone is expected to generate long lines at Rogers Wireless stores, though the pre-launch publicity has not been particularly smooth for the company.  Its announcement of iPhone service pricing set off a wave of online protest, as consumers noted the absence of an unlimited data plan, higher prices, and longer contractual commitments.  The Rogers offer is not particularly surprising.  Canada ranks toward the very bottom among developed countries for cellphone penetration as the lack of competition leaves Canadians with some of the highest prices for wireless services in the world.  Indeed, Rogers has a monopoly on the iPhone since it is the only Canadian carrier currently capable of carrying the device.

Most of the public criticism has focused on the uncompetitive data rates that render it difficult to maximize the iPhone’s potential.  Yet the bigger story is how the Canadian version of the device features a triple lock that is the result of onerous contracts, technological locks, and a legislative proposal from Industry Minister Jim Prentice that simultaneously locks consumers in, while locking the competition out.

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July 7, 2008 26 comments Columns

How the U.S. Got Its Canadian Copyright Bill

Appeared in the Toronto Star on June 16, 2008 as How the U.S. Got Its Canadian Copyright Bill Last week's introduction of new copyright legislation ignited a firestorm with thousands of Canadians expressing genuine shock at provisions that some MPs argued would create a "police state." As opposition to the […]

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June 16, 2008 10 comments Columns Archive