Copyright Down Under: The Year that Was, in the Land of “Oz”

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-4-53-20-pm
Source: shutterstock.com

It has been an “interesting” year for copyright down under in Australia; “interesting” in the sense of challenging and troublesome, but also with some glimmers of light and hope. It was the year in which the Productivity Commission brought out its destructive anti-copyright report, advocating a regime that if implemented as recommended by the Commission would undermine the foundations of creativity in Australia, but was also the year that saw the first successful application of Australia’s new site-blocking law. It was a year in which the creative community mobilized to explain why the seductively simplistic push for Australia to adopt a US-style “fair use” regime would not support artistic endeavour, and when the film industry determined to fight back against widespread online piracy through a five-point strategy led by Australian studio Village Roadshow. Continue reading “Copyright Down Under: The Year that Was, in the Land of “Oz””

The Pirates Who Stole Christmas

shutterstock_360981806At this time of year it is appropriate to blog on a seasonal theme. Copyright and Christmas. Now that has a nice ring to it—but how are the two connected? Perhaps I could blog on the need for only legitimate copyrighted goods to be found in Christmas stockings hung by the chimney with care, or the need to avoid any gifts with pirate themes under the tree? That’s a bit of a stretch. But wait—(as the TV commercials say)–what about this copyright story? The estate of Theodor S. Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) has brought suit against comic book publisher ComicMix for copyright (and trademark) infringement over the publication of a book called “Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go” which the estate alleges infringes the copyright of the 1990 Dr. Seuss book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”. The defendants are claiming a parody “fair use” defence; ComicMix work apparently attempts “to merge the stylings of Dr. Seuss with that of Star Trek”(!). Continue reading “The Pirates Who Stole Christmas”

Should Google Search be subject to the Rule of Law? Absolutely! (Google v Equustek)

shutterstock_409775188
photo source: shutterstock.com

This sounds like a simple and straightforward question to which most people at first blush would instinctively say yes. However that question is the subject of an important case currently being heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. In Google Inc v Equustek Solutions, the Court is hearing an appeal by Google of a ruling by the Supreme Court in British Columbia (B.C.), upheld on appeal in the B.C. Court of Appeal, that issued an interim injunction requiring Google to de-index or delist (i.e. not return search results for) the website of a firm (Datalink Gateways) that was marketing goods online based on the theft of trade secrets from Equustek, a Vancouver, B.C., based hi-tech firm that makes sophisticated industrial equipment. Google wants to quash a decision by the lower courts on several grounds, primarily that the basis of the injunction is extra-territorial in nature and that if Google were to be subject to Canadian law in this case, this could open a Pandora’s box of rulings from other jurisdictions that would require global delisting of websites thus interfering with freedom of expression online, and in effect “break the Internet”. Google’s position is specious and contradictory, and I will explain why I think so below. Continue reading “Should Google Search be subject to the Rule of Law? Absolutely! (Google v Equustek)”

The “Focus on Creators” Campaign in Canada

focusoncreators-logo-en
Used with permission of Music Canada

What do Alanis Morissette, Margaret Atwood, Bryan Adams, Marie Claire Blais, Michael Bublé, Sharon Pollock, Gordon Lightfoot and William Deverell have in common? Yes, they are all Canadian (eh?) But more important they are all signatories to a letter, now numbering over 1300 musicians, authors, songwriters, poets, composers, actors and other cultural creators, co-sponsored by Music Canada and the Writer’s Union of Canada and supported by The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), The League of Canadian Poets, The Canadian Music Publishers Association, The Playwrights Guild of Canada, The Canadian Country Music Association and Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC), to Canada’s Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly. That is a pretty impressive array of cultural firepower. Continue reading “The “Focus on Creators” Campaign in Canada”