Last week I delivered the CIGI Global Forum lecture in Ottawa on NAFTA and the Digital Environment. The lecture draws on some of my work for CIGI (NAFTA, Innovation) and makes the case that NAFTA negotiations are a problematic place for digital copyright reform, noting the lack of transparency, lost flexibility, and inability to strike a critical policy balance. Given that the issues are seemingly unavoidable in NAFTA, the lecture then highlights the preferred approach (relying on international treaty standards) and identifies many of the most important issues up for discussion including copyright term, fair dealing, intermediary liability and digital issues such as net neutrality and data localization. A video of the talk is embedded below.
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Earlier this week I appeared on CBC’s On the Money to discuss the U.S. decision to abandon net neutrality and its implications for Canada. I’ve written about these issues in columns and posts, but this interview provided the opportunity to highlight the implications for Canadian business and consumers, the prospect of including net neutrality in future Telecommunications Act reforms, the connection to NAFTA, and the ongoing concerns with telecom competitiveness in Canada. The interview is embedded below.
Global groups such as the International Confederation of Music Publishers and the U.S. National Music Publishers Association came to Ottawa this week to lobby the government to extend the term of copyright beyond the Berne Convention standard of life of the author plus an additional 50 years. The lobbying effort kicked off with a Hill Times piece, followed by an evening wine and dine event with politicians, a panel from the supposedly progressive Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, and then yet more lobbying with Canadian music lobby groups. The lobbying campaign comes on the heels of the controversial 2015 copyright extension of sound recordings, which some groups used to sow confusion about the term of protection for sound recordings (from 50 to 70 years) with the term of protection for the composition or written work (frequently longer at life plus 50 years).
The Government’s Role in E-commerce: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on International Trade
On the same day that I wrote about the overwhelming volume of hearings, notices, and consultations on digital policy, I also appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade to discuss the role of government policy in fostering the growth of e-commerce. The panel included eBay Canada’s Andrea Stairs (who argued for an increase in the de minimis threshold for consumer imports) and Peter Simons, the CEO of the Simons department store chain (who argued for no de minimis and the application of sales taxes on all purchases regardless of the size or location of the seller). My opening remarks centered on five areas for government action on e-commerce: access to affordable broadband, fostering consumer trust, intermediary liability, intellectual property, and e-commerce in trade agreements.