Fair Dealing by Giulia Forsythe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dRkXwP

Fair Dealing by Giulia Forsythe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dRkXwP

Copyright

delete by Wiel Hacking (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/25s9adb

An Anti-Digital Agenda: Forget the Digital Policy Reboot, the Government Just Hit Delete Instead

Last week, I wrote about the need for the Canadian government to reboot its digital agenda, arguing that less than 12 months after the 2019 national election, the policy agenda had gone off the rails with a reversal on affordable telecom services, delays in broadband support and privacy reform, as well as plans for extensive online regulation. The Speech from the Throne, which sets out the government’s agenda, suggests that rather than rebooting the digital agenda, the government has largely deleted it altogether.

The speech was the longest throne speech since the Liberal election in 2015, yet there was apparently no time to reference privacy reform, intellectual property, wireless, or innovation (innovative appears once). Instead, beyond catching up on unfulfilled promises on rural broadband and promising action on online hate, the government’s digital agenda is – as Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said last week – now distilled primarily down to “get money from web giants.” That isn’t a digital agenda, it’s anti-digital agenda, with technology companies cast as both a foreign enemy to be regulated and an ATM for free cash to fund pet projects in the cultural sector.

Read more ›

September 24, 2020 0 comments News
Bains and Guilbeault, January 29, 2020, Federal Government Responds to Report on Broadcasting and Telecom Laws, CPAC, https://www.cpac.ca/en/programs/headline-politics/episodes/66143990/#

As Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault Plans Link Taxes and Internet Content Regulation, Where Is Navdeep Bains?

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault continued his media tour in support of link taxes and Internet content regulation yesterday with interviews in the Toronto Star and Radio-Canada. The Toronto Star compares technology companies to polluters, doubles down on calling social media linking to news articles without a licence “immoral”, questions why Facebook has said it will stop news sharing in Australia with mandated licensing (“I’m like, really guys”), and raises the possibility of using copyright to require payments for linking. In the Radio-Canada interview, he admits that Netflix already invests in Canada (CRTC chair Ian Scott says it is the biggest single contributor to film and television production in Canada) but that he wants regulation to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to support francophone, native, and minority community productions.

I’ve written extensively on why the claim that linking without a licence is immoral is wrong, why Facebook is right to push back against link licensing, and how Canadian film and television production is enjoying record success because of international streaming services, not in spite of them. But there is one line in the Radio-Canada that particularly caught my attention. When asked about the timing of a bill to mandate online Cancon, Guilbeault acknowledges that “obviously I am not the only minister [responsible] for the bill.”

Read more ›

September 9, 2020 3 comments News
A Quarter-Billion Dollar Bag of Beans: Responding to Ken Whyte’s Attack on Library Book Loans

A Quarter-Billion Dollar Bag of Beans: Responding to Ken Whyte’s Attack on Library Book Loans

Ken Whyte’s Globe and Mail op-ed on “throwing the book at libraries” over their effect on booksellers and authors is an outlier that is typically best left ignored. Days after the Globe devoted three pages to the op-ed decrying library book loans, there have been some notable responses from people such as Meera Nair and Brewster Kahle, but not even a tweet from groups such as the Association of Canadian Publishers, Access Copyright, or the Writers’ Union of Canada that the piece purports to support. I suspect that this is because there is no there there: libraries are widely regarded as essential community resources that play a critical role in learning, access to knowledge, community integration, and discovery of books. If anything, there is concern that libraries are facing significant budget cuts, which may adversely affect smaller and rural communities.

Read more ›

July 30, 2020 10 comments News
SADTU National, Copyright Bill Protest, https://twitter.com/SadtuNational/status/1231905922806620160?s=20

The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 59: “It’s a Racist Policy” – Ben Cashdan on the U.S. Effort to Derail South Africa’s Copyright Reform

South Africa spent years embroiled in a high profile effort to update its copyright law responding to concerns from creators, the education community, and the visually impaired that the longstanding laws did not serve the national interest and were harming creativity and access to knowledge. Its Parliament ultimately passed progressive reforms in 2019, but the bill languished on the desk of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who faced enormous trade pressures from the United States and European Union to not sign the bill and stop it from becoming law. Last month, he seemingly caved to the pressure, citing constitutional concerns in sending it back to the Parliament.

Ben Cashdan is a South African documentary film maker and television producer who was active during the copyright reform process. He worked with Recreate ZA, which brought together a broad coalition of creatives, to advocate for both the interests of owning copyright in their own works, and in fairly using copyrighted materials in the creation of new works He joins me on the podcast this week to discuss the decade-long reform process, the external pressures, and explains why he thinks those pressures should be viewed as racist policies.

Read more ›

July 13, 2020 1 comment Podcasts
IMG_4345 by Julia Reda https://flic.kr/p/SPvBjc (CC0 1.0)

The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 57: Julia Reda on What Canada Should Learn from the European Battle over a Copyright Link Tax

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault recently suggested that the government’s support for news media should be replaced by copyright rules that would open the door to payments from internet companies such as Google and Facebook. Guilbeault indicated that a legislative package was being prepared for the fall that would include a press publishers’ right is that is commonly referred to as an internet link tax.

Julia Reda is a former Member of the European Parliament who for several years was the most active and visible politician in Europe when it came to copyright reform. That multi-year debate ultimately led to the adoption of a link tax and upload filters with a European directive. She joins me on the podcast to talk about that experience, why she believes a link tax harms freedom of expression and diversity of media, and what lessons Canada should draw from the European experience.

Read more ›

June 29, 2020 1 comment Podcasts