The Bell playbook for its website blocking proposal has largely followed a familiar narrative. Much like the “Fair for Canada” campaign in 2013 that was designed to convince Canadians that keeping foreign competitors such as Verizon out of the country was in their best interest, the FairPlay Canada campaign similarly tries to make the case that a coalition of supporters want the CRTC to institute website blocking without court orders. The campaign clearly starts with Bell: they first raised the issue in September at a House of Commons committee hearing, obtained the legal opinion to support the application (it is addressed to Bell), and used a closely allied law firm to draft the application.
Post Tagged with: "freedom of expression"
The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan: Canadians Take a Stand Against Site Blocking
Having discussed the importance of fair dealing for creators in yesterday’s post, today’s case looks at the link between freedom of expression and fair dealing. A recent case involving the Vancouver Aquarium placed the spotlight on how fair dealing can be used to safeguard freedom of expression, even when (indeed particularly when) a rights holder may prefer to use copyright to block the expression. In 2015, two film makers created a documentary on the Vancouver Aquarium called “Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered.” The film, which can now be viewed online, focuses on whales and dolphins in captivity. The Vancouver Aquarium filed a copyright infringement action, seeking to have the documentary removed from all public viewings and the deletion of photos and video clips shot at the aquarium.
The Case Against the Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Plan, Part 6: Over-Blocking of Legitimate Websites
As the public concern over the Bell coalition website blocking plan continues to grow (both the Canadian Press and CBC this weekend covered the thousands of interventions at the CRTC), the case against the plan resumes with a review of why it is likely that it will lead to over-blocking of legitimate websites. Last week’s post highlighted the probable expansion of the scope of piracy for blocking purposes, a theme that continues today with a look at the many incidents over-blocking of legitimate sites sparked by website blocking (other posts in the series include the state of Canadian copyright, weak evidence on the state of Canadian piracy, the limited impact of piracy, and why the absence of a court order would place Canada at odds with virtually all its allies).
The danger of over-blocking legitimate websites raises serious freedom of expression concerns, particularly since experience suggests that over-blocking is a likely outcome of blocking systems. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report in 2014 on the rule of law on the Internet in the wider digital world, noting:
Canada’s SOPA Moment: Why the CRTC Should Reject the Bell Coalition’s Dangerous Internet Blocking Plan
Six years ago, then Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was challenged over his plans to introduce online surveillance legislation that experts feared would have significant harmful effects on privacy and the Internet. Mr. Toews infamously responded that critics “could either stand with us or with the child pornographers.” The bill and Mr. Toews’ comments sparked an immediate backlash, prompting the government to shelve the legislation less than two weeks after it was first introduced.
This week, telecom giant Bell led a coalition of companies and associations called FairPlay Canada in seeking support for a wide-ranging website blocking plan that could have similarly harmful effects on the Internet, representing a set-back for privacy, freedom of expression, and net neutrality. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes the coalition’s position echoes Mr. Toews, amounting to a challenge to the government and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the regulator that will consider the plan) that they can either stand with them or with the pirates.