The Supreme Court of Canada’s latest copyright decision – SOCAN v. Entertainment Software Association – affirms yet again that technological neutrality is a foundational element of the law and notably emphasizes that “copyright law does not exist solely for the benefit of authors.” My colleague Jeremy de Beer was an active participant in the case, writing an expert opinion during the Copyright Board phase of the case which reflects the approach that the court ultimately adopted. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the evolution of music distribution online, this latest case and the court’s commitment to copyright balance, as well as what might come next in the seemingly never-ending battle over Canadian copyright law.
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 136: Jeremy de Beer on SOCAN v. ESA, the Supreme Court’s Latest Endorsement of Copyright Balance and Technological Neutrality
Supreme Court of Canada on Copyright: “Copyright Law Does Not Exist Solely for the Benefit of Authors”
For much of the past two decades, copyright groups have steadfastly sought to deny what the Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly endorsed, namely that the purpose of Canadian copyright law is to serve the public interest by balancing users’ and authors’ rights. Last week provided the latest episode in the ongoing series as the Court delivered yet another strong affirmation on the importance of copyright balance and the role of technological neutrality, confirming that “[c]opyright law does not exist solely for the benefit of authors.” The decision – SOCAN v. Entertainment Software Association – can read on at least four levels: (1) as a repudiation of SOCAN’s effort to establish a new, additional royalty for the “making available” of music; (2) as a confirmation of the importance of technological neutrality and copyright balance; (3) as an example of the flexibility associated with implementing the WIPO Internet treaties, and (4) as the undeniable entrenchment of Canadian copyright jurisprudence that now features deeply layered precedents on users’ rights.
Copyright law and policy was an important part of season one of the Law Bytes podcast with several episodes devoted to Canadian reforms as well as international developments. The Canadian copyright review figured prominently: Episode 4 featured clips from my appearance before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology including exchanges with MPs, a later episode contained my lecture on what the Canadian experience teaches about the future of copyright reform, and Carys Craig came on the podcast to discuss the Industry committee copyright review report.
The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 23: The WIPO BRIP Database – Rick Shera on the MEGA Experience and the Dangers of False IP Claims
The last episode of Season One of the Lawbytes podcast (new episodes will resume in September) returns to WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization and its proposed BRIP database. The BRIP database, which stands for Building Respect for Intellectual Property, will be a database of allegedly infringing websites. While some of the details remain sketchy, the basics are that BRIP will be a database of allegedly infringing websites that could be used by advertisers to stop advertising on those sites, payment providers to stop service, or even site blocking initiatives to mandate ISP blocking. Yet the BRIP database currently envisions the possibility of lobby groups such as the movie and music associations inserting sites in the database with no oversight, no review, and not even any transparent standards.
That approach caught the attention of Rick Shera, a lawyer in New Zealand with Lowndes Jordan and one of that country’s leading IP and Internet law experts. Rick posted a Twitter stream on the risks associated with false IP accusations, speaking from the experience of one of his clients. He joins me on the podcast this week to discuss the experience of MEGA and the risks of false IP claims.
Most treaties are negotiated behind closed doors with no text made available until after a deal has been reached. Yet there is a treaty with enormous implications for the Internet, copyright, and broadcasting that has been hidden in plain sight for the better part of two decades. This week, the World Intellectual Property Organization resumes discussions in Geneva on a proposed Broadcasting Treaty. To introduce WIPO, the proposed treaty, and its implications, Jamie Love of Knowledge Ecology International joins this week’s LawBytes podcast. Love warns that the treaty could extend the term of copyright for broadcast content, create a wedge between broadcasters and Internet streaming services, and even result in new restrictions on the use of streaming video.