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Glass Houses and Throwing Stones: Why a Canadian Anti-Piracy Firm May Need to Send Itself Copyright Infringement Notices

Michael Geist Law RSS Feed - Tue, 2015/01/06 - 10:47

Canipre, a Montreal-based intellectual property enforcement firm, yesterday issued a press release announcing an infringement monitoring program designed to take advantage of the new copyright notice-and-notice system. The release notes that the service detects online infringement and sends notifications alleging infringement to Canadian Internet providers, who must forward the notifications to their subscribers. The company has been involved in the Voltage Pictures – TekSavvy lawsuit and it cites that case as evidence of the effectiveness of its services.

Yet what Canipre does not say is that a blog associated with the company may have been engaged in copyright infringement for many months. The blog – copyrightenforcement.ca – is run by Barry Logan, the company’s Managing Director, Operations (I received an email from Mr. Logan last year that listed the site as his blog address). In addition to posting releases from Canipre and information about the TekSavvy case, the site has posted dozens of full-text articles from media organizations around the world.

For example, last week it posted the full text of a 1200 word article on TV piracy from the Wire Report, an Ottawa-based telecom publication. The article resides behind a paywall limited to subscribers and is listed as “exclusive content.” In fact, reposting full-text articles from other sources is a regular occurrence on the site. Posts in December feature articles from the Huffington Post Canada, Business Insider, and CNET.  Earlier posts include full-text articles from the Hollywood Reporter, StreamDaily, Reuters, the Canadian Press, Global News, Vancouver Sun, and the National Post. Some of the posts include articles that strip out reference to the author (Chronicle Herald, CBC) and others include no attribution whatsoever. The site also uses photos from the articles, often without attribution.

While the use of clips of articles will often qualify as fair dealing and even full text of articles can be fair dealing in some circumstances, posting full text articles without attribution or including subscription-only information that is not otherwise available, is much more likely to be viewed as infringement if posted without authorization. Canipre would likely offer its services to the media companies whose work is affected, yet it might want to take a closer look at its internal conduct before throwing stones in the form of thousands of notices alleging infringement.

The post Glass Houses and Throwing Stones: Why a Canadian Anti-Piracy Firm May Need to Send Itself Copyright Infringement Notices appeared first on Michael Geist.

New Year Offers Chance to Hit Reset Button on Digital Policies

Michael Geist Law RSS Feed - Mon, 2015/01/05 - 10:26

A new year is traditionally the time to refresh and renew personal goals. The same is true in the digital policy realm, where despite the conclusion of lawful access, anti-counterfeiting, and anti-spam rules in 2014, many other issues in Canada remain unresolved, unaddressed, or stalled in the middle of development.

With a new year – one that will feature a federal election in which all parties will be asked to articulate their vision of Canada’s digital future – there is a chance to hit the policy reset button on issues that have lagged or veered off course.

There is no shortage of possibilities, but my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the following four concerns should be top of mind for policy makers and politicians:

1.    The centerpiece of any national digital strategy is connectivity since ensuring that all Canadians have access to affordable, competitive high-speed Internet services is a basic pre-requisite for most other issues. To the disappointment of many, last year’s long overdue digital strategy included a connectivity target that ranked among the weakest in the developed world.

Its speed target of 5 Mbps is not even considered high-speed in some countries and the government’s goal of 98 per cent access means that thousands of Canadians will still not even have access to that speed. With the United States recently setting a 10 Mbps target, Canada should rethink its approach by at least matching the U.S. benchmark and setting a clear aim of 100 per cent coverage.

2.    The Digital Privacy Act, which was introduced in the Senate last year as Bill S-4, was supposed to be an easy sell and policy win for a government focused on consumer issues. It includes long overdue security breach disclosure requirements that will force companies to notify Canadians when their personal information has been placed at risk.

However, the dominant story of the bill has been the unnecessary expansion of voluntary disclosure of personal information at the very time that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Canadians have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such information. The government’s weak attempts to justify the changes have not convinced their newly-appointed federal privacy commissioner and with committee hearings likely to start in February, Industry Minister James Moore should use the opportunity to scrap the change.

3.    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will take centre stage early in the new year as it releases the results from several hearings, most notably the “TalkTV” consultation that will undoubtedly include mandatory “pick-and-pay” television packages for consumers. Yet the CRTC’s work on both broadcast and telecom regulation has been undermined by an outdated legal framework that artificially separates the two fields that are now inextricably linked.

As a regulator, the CRTC is not in a position to fix a broken system. Rather, it falls to the government to begin the process of creating a single communications law that better reflects modern realities. While that reform won’t happen before the fall election, it should begin to lay the groundwork for legislative reform with a comprehensive review of the current system and alternatives for change.

4.    Treasury Board President Tony Clement has been a vocal advocate of open government, last year releasing an updated Action Plan on Open Government. Yet the framework has rightly come under criticism for failing to address the access to information system, which is in desperate need of both financial support and legislative reform.

As the single most important part of any open government policy, ignoring access to information consigns the entire effort to failure. While Clement now says there is insufficient time for a comprehensive review before the fall election, there is no need to wait to inject the system with much needed financial stability and to establish timelines for a legal overhaul.

The post New Year Offers Chance to Hit Reset Button on Digital Policies appeared first on Michael Geist.

New Year Offers Chance to Hit Reset Button on Digital Policies

Michael Geist Law RSS Feed - Mon, 2015/01/05 - 10:24

Appeared in the Toronto Star on January 3, 2015 as Time to Hit the Reset Button on Digital Policies

A new year is traditionally the time to refresh and renew personal goals. The same is true in the digital policy realm, where despite the conclusion of lawful access, anti-counterfeiting, and anti-spam rules in 2014, many other issues in Canada remain unresolved, unaddressed, or stalled in the middle of development.

With a new year – one that will feature a federal election in which all parties will be asked to articulate their vision of Canada’s digital future – there is a chance to hit the policy reset button on issues that have lagged or veered off course.

There is no shortage of possibilities, but the following four concerns should be top of mind for policy makers and politicians:

1.    The centerpiece of any national digital strategy is connectivity since ensuring that all Canadians have access to affordable, competitive high-speed Internet services is a basic pre-requisite for most other issues. To the disappointment of many, last year’s long overdue digital strategy included a connectivity target that ranked among the weakest in the developed world.

Its speed target of 5 Mbps is not even considered high-speed in some countries and the government’s goal of 98 per cent access means that thousands of Canadians will still not even have access to that speed. With the United States recently setting a 10 Mbps target, Canada should rethink its approach by at least matching the U.S. benchmark and setting a clear aim of 100 per cent coverage.

2.    The Digital Privacy Act, which was introduced in the Senate last year as Bill S-4, was supposed to be an easy sell and policy win for a government focused on consumer issues. It includes long overdue security breach disclosure requirements that will force companies to notify Canadians when their personal information has been placed at risk.

However, the dominant story of the bill has been the unnecessary expansion of voluntary disclosure of personal information at the very time that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Canadians have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such information. The government’s weak attempts to justify the changes have not convinced their newly-appointed federal privacy commissioner and with committee hearings likely to start in February, Industry Minister James Moore should use the opportunity to scrap the change.

3.    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will take centre stage early in the new year as it releases the results from several hearings, most notably the “TalkTV” consultation that will undoubtedly include mandatory “pick-and-pay” television packages for consumers. Yet the CRTC’s work on both broadcast and telecom regulation has been undermined by an outdated legal framework that artificially separates the two fields that are now inextricably linked.

As a regulator, the CRTC is not in a position to fix a broken system. Rather, it falls to the government to begin the process of creating a single communications law that better reflects modern realities. While that reform won’t happen before the fall election, it should begin to lay the groundwork for legislative reform with a comprehensive review of the current system and alternatives for change.

4.    Treasury Board President Tony Clement has been a vocal advocate of open government, last year releasing an updated Action Plan on Open Government. Yet the framework has rightly come under criticism for failing to address the access to information system, which is in desperate need of both financial support and legislative reform.

As the single most important part of any open government policy, ignoring access to information consigns the entire effort to failure. While Clement now says there is insufficient time for a comprehensive review before the fall election, there is no need to wait to inject the system with much needed financial stability and to establish timelines for a legal overhaul.

Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can be reached at mgeist@uottawa.ca or online at www.michaelgeist.ca.

The post New Year Offers Chance to Hit Reset Button on Digital Policies appeared first on Michael Geist.

Interview with the RiYL podcast about personal politics and big-P politics


I sat down for an interview with the RiYL podcast (MP3) at NYCC last fall. We covered a lot of material that I don't get a lot of chances to talk about, particularly the relationship between personal politics and big-P politics. Listening to it again, I'm very satisfied with how it turned out.

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