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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.

Two Privacy Class Actions: Facebook and Apple (Part 2)

IPBlog (Calgary) - Mon, 2015/01/05 - 17:00
- By Richard Stobbe In Part 1, we looked at the B.C. decision in Douez v. Facebook, Inc. Another proposed privacy class action was heard in the B.C. court a few months later: Ladas v. Apple Inc., 2014 BCSC 1821 (CanLII). This was a claim by a representative plaintiff, Ms. Ladas, alleging that ...

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.

The Letters of the Law: 2014 in Tech Law and Policy

Michael Geist Law RSS Feed - Mon, 2014/12/29 - 18:08

With revelations about millions of warrantless requests for Internet and telecom subscriber information and heated battles over the potential regulation of Netflix leading the way, law and technology issues garnered headlines all year long. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) offers a look back at 2014 from A to Z:

A is for Amanda Todd, the cyber-bullying victim whose name was regularly invoked by the government to support Bill C-13, its lawful access/cyberbullying bill. The bill passed despite Amanda’s mother Carol raising privacy concerns and not receiving an invitation to appear before the Senate committee studying it.

B is for Bell’s targeted advertising program that involves the use of consumer location and browsing habits. The program was the target of multiple complaints to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

C is for CASL, Canada’s anti-spam law, which took effect in July and generated considerable panic among many Canadian businesses.

D is for Digital Canada 150, the long awaited digital strategy released in April by Industry Minister James Moore.

E is for Equustek Solutions, a British Columbia based company that obtained a controversial court order requiring Google to remove a website from its global index.

F is for Fearon, the Supreme Court of Canada decision which affirmed that police can search a cellphone without a warrant during an arrest.

G is for Canadian Heritage Minister Shelley Glover, whose leaked proposal to create a new copyright exception for political advertising sparked heated debate.

H is for the Children’s Hospital Of Eastern Ontario, which filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of patents based on human genes.

I is for in-transit shipments, which were excluded from Bill C-8, Canada’s anti-counterfeiting legislation that received royal assent late in the year.

J is for Judge Alain Breault, a Quebec judge who awarded a woman damages after she claimed that Google was slow to blur a revealing picture of her posted on the Google Street View service.

K is for Ben Klass, a communications policy researcher, whose net neutrality complaint over mobile video services led companies such as Rogers and Videotron to alter their service offerings.

L is for language laws, whose application to the Internet by Quebec authorities led some global e-commerce sites to stop serving the Quebec market.

M is for the Marrakesh Copyright Treaty for the Blind, which Canada surprisingly did not sign after playing a key role during the treaty negotiations.

N is for Netflix, which engaged in a high profile battle with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission over whether it was subject to the regulator’s broadcast jurisdiction.

O is for the revelation that there were at least one point two million annual requests for subscriber information by law enforcement and government departments in 2011.

P is for Pandora, the music streaming service that may now enter the Canadian market after new royalty rates were established by the Copyright Board of Canada.

Q is for Quebec.com, the domain name that the Government of Quebec failed to obtain after filing a complaint.

R is for Rogers, which became the first major Canadian telecom company to release a transparency report on its subscriber information disclosure practices.

S is for the landmark Spencer Supreme Court of Canada decision, which ruled that Internet users have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their subscriber information.

T is for Daniel Therrien, the new Privacy Commissioner of Canada, who surprised observers by immediately criticizing the government’s proposed lawful access legislation.

U is for Uber, the popular app-based car service, which faced regulatory battles in cities across the country.

V is for Voltage Pictures, which won a court order to obtain information on thousands of alleged file sharers.

W is for wireless competition, an ongoing focal point of government policy.

X is for the redacted information that frequently accompanies access to information request records. The liberal use of exemptions was one of the issues in the spotlight as part of debates over an under-funded system on the brink of collapse.

Y is for the Law Society of Yukon, one of dozens of “investigative bodies” to which organizations may voluntarily disclose personal information without a warrant under the current law. The government pointed to the complexity of the investigative bodies system as a justification for expanding warrantless voluntary disclosure in Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act.

Z is for Zithromax, the brand name for azithromycin, one of the world’s leading antibiotics. The prospect of increased drug costs was one of the most contentious aspects of the Canada – European Trade Agreement, which concluded this year.

The post The Letters of the Law: 2014 in Tech Law and Policy appeared first on Michael Geist.

The Letters of the Law: 2014 in Tech Law and Policy

Michael Geist Law RSS Feed - Mon, 2014/12/29 - 17:39

Appeared in the Toronto Star on December 27, 2014 as Letters of the Law: The Year in Tech Policy

With revelations about millions of warrantless requests for Internet and telecom subscriber information and heated battles over the potential regulation of Netflix leading the way, law and technology issues garnered headlines all year long. A look back at 2014 from A to Z:

A is for Amanda Todd, the cyber-bullying victim whose name was regularly invoked by the government to support Bill C-13, its lawful access/cyberbullying bill. The bill passed despite Amanda’s mother Carol raising privacy concerns and not receiving an invitation to appear before the Senate committee studying it.

B is for Bell’s targeted advertising program that involves the use of consumer location and browsing habits. The program was the target of multiple complaints to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

C is for CASL, Canada’s anti-spam law, which took effect in July and generated considerable panic among many Canadian businesses.

D is for Digital Canada 150, the long awaited digital strategy released in April by Industry Minister James Moore.

E is for Equustek Solutions, a British Columbia based company that obtained a controversial court order requiring Google to remove a website from its global index.

F is for Fearon, the Supreme Court of Canada decision which affirmed that police can search a cellphone without a warrant during an arrest.

G is for Canadian Heritage Minister Shelley Glover, whose leaked proposal to create a new copyright exception for political advertising sparked heated debate.

H is for the Children’s Hospital Of Eastern Ontario, which filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of patents based on human genes.

I is for in-transit shipments, which were excluded from Bill C-8, Canada’s anti-counterfeiting legislation that received royal assent late in the year.

J is for Judge Alain Breault, a Quebec judge who awarded a woman damages after she claimed that Google was slow to blur a revealing picture of her posted on the Google Street View service.

K is for Ben Klass, a communications policy researcher, whose net neutrality complaint over mobile video services led companies such as Rogers and Videotron to alter their service offerings.

L is for language laws, whose application to the Internet by Quebec authorities led some global e-commerce sites to stop serving the Quebec market.

M is for the Marrakesh Copyright Treaty for the Blind, which Canada surprisingly did not sign after playing a key role during the treaty negotiations.

N is for Netflix, which engaged in a high profile battle with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission over whether it was subject to the regulator’s broadcast jurisdiction.

O is for the revelation that there were at least one point two million annual requests for subscriber information by law enforcement and government departments in 2011.

P is for Pandora, the music streaming service that may now enter the Canadian market after new royalty rates were established by the Copyright Board of Canada.

Q is for Quebec.com, the domain name that the Government of Quebec failed to obtain after filing a complaint.

R is for Rogers, which became the first major Canadian telecom company to release a transparency report on its subscriber information disclosure practices.

S is for the landmark Spencer Supreme Court of Canada decision, which ruled that Internet users have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their subscriber information.

T is for Daniel Therrien, the new Privacy Commissioner of Canada, who surprised observers by immediately criticizing the government’s proposed lawful access legislation.

U is for Uber, the popular app-based car service, which faced regulatory battles in cities across the country.

V is for Voltage Pictures, which won a court order to obtain information on thousands of alleged file sharers.

W is for wireless competition, an ongoing focal point of government policy.

X is for the redacted information that frequently accompanies access to information request records. The liberal use of exemptions was one of the issues in the spotlight as part of debates over an under-funded system on the brink of collapse.

Y is for the Law Society of Yukon, one of dozens of “investigative bodies” to which organizations may voluntarily disclose personal information without a warrant under the current law. The government pointed to the complexity of the investigative bodies system as a justification for expanding warrantless voluntary disclosure in Bill S-4, the Digital Privacy Act.

Z is for Zithromax, the brand name for azithromycin, one of the world’s leading antibiotics. The prospect of increased drug costs was one of the most contentious aspects of the Canada – European Trade Agreement, which concluded this year.

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 The Letters of the Law: 2014 in Tech Law and Policy appeared first on Michael Geist.

Consensus in Bitcoin: One system, many models

Freedom to Tinker - Fri, 2014/12/26 - 13:27
At a technical level, the Bitcoin protocol is a clever solution to the consensus problem in computer science. The idea of consensus is very general — a number of participants together execute a computation to come to agreement about the state of the world, or a subset of it that they’re interested in. Because of […]

On the Sony Pictures Security Breach

Freedom to Tinker - Tue, 2014/12/23 - 11:02
The recent security breach at Sony Pictures is one of the most embarrassing breaches ever, though not the most technically sophisticated. The incident raises lots of interesting questions about the current state of security and public policy. There is an active discussion in the tech community about who is responsible for the attack. The FBI […]

Podcast: Happy Xmas! (guest starring Poesy)

It's that time again! School is out, but I'm still working, so the kid came to the office with me, just in time to record a new podcast. This year, Poesy performs a stirring rendition of Jingle Bells, with dirty words!

MP3

Notice the Difference? New Canadian Internet Copyright Rules for ISPs Set to Launch

Michael Geist Law RSS Feed - Mon, 2014/12/22 - 09:45

The longstanding debate over how Internet providers should respond to allegations of copyright infringement by their subscribers was resolved in Canada several years ago with the adoption of a “notice and notice” system. Unlike countries that require content takedowns without court oversight or even contemplate cutting off subscriber Internet access, the Canadian approach, which has operated informally for over a decade but will kick in as the law in 2015, seeks to balance the interests of copyright holders, the privacy rights of Internet users, and the legal obligations of Internet providers.

The result is a system that has proven effective in raising public awareness about copyright, while safeguarding the identities of Internet subscribers, providing legal certainty to Internet providers, and leaving potential legal actions to the courts.

Under the notice-and-notice system, copyright owners are entitled to send infringement notices to Internet providers, who are legally required to forward the notifications to their subscribers. The notices must include details on the sender, the copyright works and the alleged infringement. If the Internet provider fails to forward the notification, it must explain why or face the prospect of damages that run as high as $10,000. Internet providers must also retain information on the subscriber for six months (or 12 months if court proceedings are launched).

For Internet providers, the system creates significant costs for processing and forwarding notices. However, assuming they meet their obligations of forwarding the notice, the law grants them a legal “safe harbour” that removes potential liability for actions of their subscribers.

There are important benefits for Internet users as well. First, unlike the content takedown or access cut-off systems, the Canadian notice approach does not feature any legal penalties. The notices do not create any fines or damages, but rather are designed as educational tools to raise awareness of infringement allegations.

Second, the personal information of subscribers is not disclosed to the copyright owner. When the Internet provider forwards the copyright notice, only they know the identity of the subscriber and that information is not disclosed to any third party.

If the copyright owner is unhappy with only sending a notification and wants to proceed with further legal action, they must go to court to obtain an order requiring the Internet provider to reveal the identity of the subscriber. Canadian courts have established strict rules and limitations around such disclosures.

Moreover, the law now also limits potential liability for Internet users for non-commercial infringement, capping damages at C$5,000 for all infringements. While that is not insignificant, it does mean that threats of tens of thousands of dollars in liability for unauthorized downloading are unfounded.

The Canadian notice-and-notice system takes official effect on January 2nd, but it has been used on an informal basis for many years. Indeed, the evidence has consistently demonstrated that notifications work. For example, Rogers told a House of Commons committee in 2011 that 67 per cent of notice recipients do not repeat infringe after one notice and 89 per cent cease allegedly infringing activity after a second notice.

Those numbers are very similar to 2010 data from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, which found that 71 per cent of notice recipients did not place an infringing file back on BitTorrent systems. Similarly, the Business Software Association told the CBC in 2006 that the notice-and-notice approach has “been most effective.”

So are there reasons for concern with the new system?

There are fears that Internet providers will be inundated with notices, particularly since the government decided against establishing a fee for forwarding them. That could lead to increased costs for consumers. Moreover, the government also declined to specify the precise content of the notices, leading to concerns that some copyright holders may include threats to sue alongside dubious demands to settle the allegations for thousands of dollars.

Should these concerns materialize, the government will need to revisit some of the notice-and-notice regulations. In the meantime, however, it rightly points to the system as a “made-in-Canada” solution that is likely to be emulated by countries around the world.

The post Notice the Difference? New Canadian Internet Copyright Rules for ISPs Set to Launch appeared first on Michael Geist.

Notice the Difference? New Canadian Internet Copyright Rules Set to Launch

Michael Geist Law RSS Feed - Mon, 2014/12/22 - 09:42

Appeared in the Toronto Star on December 20, 2014 as New Internet copyright rules to launch

The longstanding debate over how Internet providers should respond to allegations of copyright infringement by their subscribers was resolved in Canada several years ago with the adoption of a “notice and notice” system. Unlike countries that require content takedowns without court oversight or even contemplate cutting off subscriber Internet access, the Canadian approach, which has operated informally for over a decade but will kick in as the law in 2015, seeks to balance the interests of copyright holders, the privacy rights of Internet users, and the legal obligations of Internet providers.

The result is a system that has proven effective in raising public awareness about copyright, while safeguarding the identities of Internet subscribers, providing legal certainty to Internet providers, and leaving potential legal actions to the courts.

Under the notice-and-notice system, copyright owners are entitled to send infringement notices to Internet providers, who are legally required to forward the notifications to their subscribers. The notices must include details on the sender, the copyright works and the alleged infringement. If the Internet provider fails to forward the notification, it must explain why or face the prospect of damages that run as high as $10,000. Internet providers must also retain information on the subscriber for six months (or 12 months if court proceedings are launched).

For Internet providers, the system creates significant costs for processing and forwarding notices. However, assuming they meet their obligations of forwarding the notice, the law grants them a legal “safe harbour” that removes potential liability for actions of their subscribers.

There are important benefits for Internet users as well. First, unlike the content takedown or access cut-off systems, the Canadian notice approach does not feature any legal penalties. The notices do not create any fines or damages, but rather are designed as educational tools to raise awareness of infringement allegations.

Second, the personal information of subscribers is not disclosed to the copyright owner. When the Internet provider forwards the copyright notice, only they know the identity of the subscriber and that information is not disclosed to any third party.

If the copyright owner is unhappy with only sending a notification and wants to proceed with further legal action, they must go to court to obtain an order requiring the Internet provider to reveal the identity of the subscriber. Canadian courts have established strict rules and limitations around such disclosures.

Moreover, the law now also limits potential liability for Internet users for non-commercial infringement, capping damages at C$5,000 for all infringements. While that is not insignificant, it does mean that threats of tens of thousands of dollars in liability for unauthorized downloading are unfounded.

The Canadian notice-and-notice system takes official effect on January 2nd, but it has been used on an informal basis for many years. Indeed, the evidence has consistently demonstrated that notifications work. For example, Rogers told a House of Commons committee in 2011 that 67 per cent of notice recipients do not repeat infringe after one notice and 89 per cent cease allegedly infringing activity after a second notice.

Those numbers are very similar to 2010 data from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, which found that 71 per cent of notice recipients did not place an infringing file back on BitTorrent systems. Similarly, the Business Software Association told the CBC in 2006 that the notice-and-notice approach has “been most effective.”

So are there reasons for concern with the new system?

There are fears that Internet providers will be inundated with notices, particularly since the government decided against establishing a fee for forwarding them. That could lead to increased costs for consumers. Moreover, the government also declined to specify the precise content of the notices, leading to concerns that some copyright holders may include threats to sue alongside dubious demands to settle the allegations for thousands of dollars.

Should these concerns materialize, the government will need to revisit some of the notice-and-notice regulations. In the meantime, however, it rightly points to the system as a “made-in-Canada” solution that is likely to be emulated by countries around the world.

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 Notice the Difference? New Canadian Internet Copyright Rules Set to Launch appeared first on Michael Geist.

How cookies can be used for global surveillance

Freedom to Tinker - Fri, 2014/12/19 - 14:26
Today we present an updated version of our paper examining how the ubiquitous use of online tracking cookies can allow an adversary conducting network surveillance to target a user or surveil users en masse. In the initial version of the study, summarized below, we examined the technical feasibility of the attack. Now we’ve made the […]

LISTEN: Wil Wheaton reads “Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free”


I've posted the first chapter (MP3) of Wil Wheaton's reading of my book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free (which sports introductions by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer!), which is available as a $15 DRM-free audiobook, sweetened by samples from Amanda Palmer and Dresden Dolls' "Coin-Operated Boy."

In sharply argued, fast-moving chapters, Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free takes on the state of copyright and creative success in the digital age. Can small artists still thrive in the Internet era? Can giant record labels avoid alienating their audiences? This is a book about the pitfalls and the opportunities that creative industries (and individuals) are confronting today — about how the old models have failed or found new footing, and about what might soon replace them. An essential read for anyone with a stake in the future of the arts, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free offers a vivid guide to the ways creativity and the Internet interact today, and to what might be coming next.

DRM-free audiobook

Interview with Radio New Zealand’s This Way Up

Radio New Zealand National's This Way Up recorded this interview with me, which airs tomorrow (Saturday), about my book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free (MP3).

Two Privacy Class Actions: Facebook and Apple

IPBlog (Calgary) - Thu, 2014/12/18 - 15:00
- By Richard Stobbe Two privacy class actions earlier this year have pitted technology giants Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc. against Canadian consumers who allege privacy violations. The two cases resulted in very different outcomes. First, the Facebook decision: In Douez v. Facebook, Inc., 2014 BCSC 953 (CanLII), the court looked at two ...

Powerful new tools in Arabic and English for constitution drafters and citizens

Google Public Policy BLOG - Mon, 2014/12/15 - 12:18
Those who write (and re-write) national constitutions naturally learn and draw from the work of other drafters. Constitute, a website that digitizes and indexes the world’s constitutions which Google Ideas launched in 2013 with the Comparative Constitutions Project, has made this process even easier.
Today marks the launch of Constitute in Arabic, which promises to make the process of constitutional drafting and analysis more accessible across the Arab world. The site now provides Arabic translations of some of the world’s most-cited constitutions, coupled with powerful analytical tools.
We’re also introducing new, powerful features across the English and Arabic versions of the site. A new “compare” functionality lets you view two constitutions side-by-side, inviting an entirely different perspective. Curious how the Japanese Constitution of 1946, drafted under U.S. occupation, compares to that of the U.S.?  View them side-by-side and compare them provision by provision (for example, on the topic of search and seizure rights) in a clean, easy-to-read layout.
Constitute also includes new options for saving and sharing content. You can now pin constitutional excerpts, comparisons and entire searches, and export the results to for easy collaborative drafting, reading or analysis. You can also share to social media, or send links to specific locations in any of the documents—for example, explore which African constitutions have provisions on gender equality. 
Finally, developers and data enthusiasts—and their machine counterparts—will be able to build upon Constitute’s underlying data through an open data portal which includes access to Constitute’s API.
On average, five new constitutions are written every year and even more are amended. Creating a document to serve as the bedrock of one’s society is a huge undertaking, which is why Google Ideas collaborated with the Comparative Constitutions Project to seed Constitute in 2013. We hope today’s additions to Constitute will help equip constitutional drafters and citizens of every country with the remarkable power of knowledge.
Posted by Brett Perlmutter, Special Projects Lead, Google Ideas

Government Documents Reveal Canadian Telcos Envision Surveillance-Ready Networks

Michael Geist Law RSS Feed - Mon, 2014/12/15 - 10:57

After years of failed bills, public debate, and considerable controversy, lawful access legislation received royal assent last week. Public Safety Minister Peter MacKay’s Bill C-13 lumped together measures designed to combat cyberbullying with a series of new warrants to enhance police investigative powers, generating criticism from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, civil liberties groups, and some prominent victims rights advocates. They argued that the government should have created cyberbullying safeguards without sacrificing privacy.

While the bill would have benefited from some amendments, it remains a far cry from earlier versions that featured mandatory personal information disclosure without court oversight and required Internet providers to install extensive surveillance and interception capabilities within their networks.

The mandatory disclosure of subscriber information rules, which figured prominently in earlier lawful access bills, were gradually reduced in scope and ultimately eliminated altogether. Moreover, a recent Supreme Court ruling raised doubt about the constitutionality of the provisions.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the surveillance and interception capability issue is more complicated, however. The prospect of a total surveillance infrastructure within Canadian Internet networks generated an enormous outcry when proposed in Vic Toews’ 2012 lawful access bill.  Not only did the bill specify the precise required surveillance and interception capabilities, but it also would have established extensive Internet provider reporting requirements and envisioned partial payments by government to help offset the costs for smaller Internet providers.

Those provisions were dropped from Bill C-13, yet according to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, both Internet providers and the government have been debating a “Plan B” on how to ensure that there are surveillance and interception capable networks.

Perhaps the most notable revelation is that Internet providers have tried to convince the government that they will voluntarily build surveillance capabilities into their networks. A 2013 memorandum prepared for the public safety minister reveals that Canadian telecom companies advised the government that the leading telecom equipment manufacturers, including Cisco, Juniper, and Huawei, all offer products with interception capabilities at a small additional cost.

In light of the standardization of the interception capabilities, the memo notes that the Canadian providers argue that “the telecommunications market will soon shift to a point where interception capability will simply become a standard component of available equipment, and that technical changes in the way communications actually travel on communications networks will make it even easier to intercept communications.”

In other words, Canadian telecom providers are telling the government there is no need for legally mandated surveillance and interception functionality since they will be building networks that will feature those capabilities by default.

While Canadian network providers claimed that interception and surveillance capabilities would become a standard feature in their networks, government officials were not entirely convinced. Department officials argued that interception is a “complex process” and that legislative requirements were preferred.

In the absence of mandated surveillance and interception capabilities, another internal government memorandum emphasized the value of incorporating the technologies in wireless networks through spectrum licence requirements. The memorandum notes that Public Safety works with Industry Canada in developing those requirements and deals directly with providers to ensure that they meet the necessary standards.

The department’s stated goal is to “ensure that the lawful interception capabilities of public safety agencies are maximized within the existing legal framework.”  In meeting its goal, the memorandum notes that it will work directly with the wireless providers to assess compliance levels and gain “valuable information on the interception capability currently available.”

The latest chapter of lawful access legislation may have come to a close, but the internal government documents suggest that the story is not yet over. With telecom providers suggesting that surveillance-capable networks are inevitable and government officials seeking alternatives to mandatory interception capabilities, the reality is that some of the issues at the heart of lawful access remain very much in play.

The post Government Documents Reveal Canadian Telcos Envision Surveillance-Ready Networks appeared first on Michael Geist.

Government Documents Reveal Canadian Telcos Envision Surveillance-Ready Networks

Michael Geist Law RSS Feed - Mon, 2014/12/15 - 10:54

Appeared in the Toronto Star on December 13, 2014 as Government Documents Reveal Telecom Providers Envision Surveillance-Ready Networks

After years of failed bills, public debate, and considerable controversy, lawful access legislation received royal assent last week. Public Safety Minister Peter MacKay’s Bill C-13 lumped together measures designed to combat cyberbullying with a series of new warrants to enhance police investigative powers, generating criticism from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, civil liberties groups, and some prominent victims rights advocates. They argued that the government should have created cyberbullying safeguards without sacrificing privacy.

While the bill would have benefited from some amendments, it remains a far cry from earlier versions that featured mandatory personal information disclosure without court oversight and required Internet providers to install extensive surveillance and interception capabilities within their networks.

The mandatory disclosure of subscriber information rules, which figured prominently in earlier lawful access bills, were gradually reduced in scope and ultimately eliminated altogether. Moreover, a recent Supreme Court ruling raised doubt about the constitutionality of the provisions.

The surveillance and interception capability issue is more complicated, however. The prospect of a total surveillance infrastructure within Canadian Internet networks generated an enormous outcry when proposed in Vic Toews’ 2012 lawful access bill.  Not only did the bill specify the precise required surveillance and interception capabilities, but it also would have established extensive Internet provider reporting requirements and envisioned partial payments by government to help offset the costs for smaller Internet providers.

Those provisions were dropped from Bill C-13, yet according to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, both Internet providers and the government have been debating a “Plan B” on how to ensure that there are surveillance and interception capable networks.

Perhaps the most notable revelation is that Internet providers have tried to convince the government that they will voluntarily build surveillance capabilities into their networks. A 2013 memorandum prepared for the public safety minister reveals that Canadian telecom companies advised the government that the leading telecom equipment manufacturers, including Cisco, Juniper, and Huawei, all offer products with interception capabilities at a small additional cost.

In light of the standardization of the interception capabilities, the memo notes that the Canadian providers argue that “the telecommunications market will soon shift to a point where interception capability will simply become a standard component of available equipment, and that technical changes in the way communications actually travel on communications networks will make it even easier to intercept communications.”

In other words, Canadian telecom providers are telling the government there is no need for legally mandated surveillance and interception functionality since they will be building networks that will feature those capabilities by default.

While Canadian network providers claimed that interception and surveillance capabilities would become a standard feature in their networks, government officials were not entirely convinced. Department officials argued that interception is a “complex process” and that legislative requirements were preferred.

In the absence of mandated surveillance and interception capabilities, another internal government memorandum emphasized the value of incorporating the technologies in wireless networks through spectrum licence requirements. The memorandum notes that Public Safety works with Industry Canada in developing those requirements and deals directly with providers to ensure that they meet the necessary standards.

The department’s stated goal is to “ensure that the lawful interception capabilities of public safety agencies are maximized within the existing legal framework.”  In meeting its goal, the memorandum notes that it will work directly with the wireless providers to assess compliance levels and gain “valuable information on the interception capability currently available.”

The latest chapter of lawful access legislation may have come to a close, but the internal government documents suggest that the story is not yet over. With telecom providers suggesting that surveillance-capable networks are inevitable and government officials seeking alternatives to mandatory interception capabilities, the reality is that some of the issues at the heart of lawful access remain very much in play.

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 Government Documents Reveal Canadian Telcos Envision Surveillance-Ready Networks appeared first on Michael Geist.

Interview with The Command Line podcast

I just appeared on the Command Line podcast (MP3) to talk about Information Doesn't Want to Be Free -- Thomas and I really had a wide-ranging and excellent conversation:

In this episode, I interview Cory Doctorow about his latest book, “Information Doesn’t Want to be Free: Laws for the Internet Age.” If you are interested in learning more about the topics we discuss and that that book covers, you can also check out books by the scholars we mention: Lawrence Lessig, James Boyle and William Patry. I compared Cory’s book to “The Indie Band Survival Guide” the authors of which are friends of the show whom I have also interviewed.

The audiobook version of the book is already available. Check Cory’s site, the free download and electronic editions should be available soon.

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