Let’s say you are Netflix and you have been very successful in promoting your content subscription service, and have succeeded in signing up roughly half the households of a given country. And let’s say that this country is concerned about preserving its means of cultural expression in an audio-visual world largely dominated by major US producers of content. In pursuit of this goal, this country has for years maintained a variety of policies designed to tilt the playing field in favour of its domestic content producers (with limited success, I might add.) One of these policies is the creation of a domestic content production fund into which broadcasters and content distributors (but not online distributors) must pay a percentage of revenues. And let’s say that a number of stakeholders in this country, from the direct competition to domestic producers of content who are subsidized by the content production fund want you, Netflix, to be required to contribute to the fund in order to expand it so as to make yet more domestic content. That’s not all. As an entity outside Canada selling a digital product, you are not required by law to collect sales taxes on your Canadian subscriptions but you are nonetheless being accused by your Canadian competitors of having an unfair advantage. If you can absorb all that, then you will have some idea of the issues that Netflix is grappling with in Canada. It’s a minefield–with many people laying mines. Continue reading “Netflix in Canada: Let No Good Deed Go Unpunished”
I am not sure how I managed to go through my entire life without being aware of Dale Chihuly and his work, at least until recently, but somehow I managed it. I clearly was not on Planet Glass. When the Chihuly exhibit came to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto a few months ago, my wife (who was fully au fait with Chihuly), suggested we go. Always willing to broaden my horizons, I went—and was blown away (pardon the pun) by the spectacle. I wandered through crystal forests of spiky rose coloured plants and ventured into brilliant glass gardens, admiring blown sculptures in phantasmagorical shapes and images. It was truly an unforgettable experience. How could he be so creative, I wondered? And so prolific!
As the US, Canada and Mexico wrestle with the difficult task of “updating” NAFTA (judging by press reports of negotiating demands from the Trump Administration, the US wants to turn a Free Trade Agreement into a Managed Trade Agreement, with management in the hands of the US, but that is another story), among the issues to be looked at is the protection of intellectual property. When NAFTA was negotiated in the 1990s the internet was in its infancy. Things like e-commerce and digital piracy had yet to appear. It is a different world today, and arguably one area where all three countries could benefit is to update the provisions of the agreement that deal with the digital world. Online digital piracy has become a big issue globally, undermining the entertainment industries (music, film, television) in all three countries and eroding the value of content paid for and distributed by broadcasters and online content providers. Continue reading “Would Site Blocking (Disabling Access to Copyright Infringing Websites) Work in Canada? Quite Possibly—It Works Well in Australia and the UK.”
On June 22 of this year, Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia, commonly called “BC”–where yours truly happens to live–presented her party policy platform (aka the “Speech from the Throne”) to the BC Legislature. Ms. Clark and her BC Liberal Party had just won 43 seats out of a possible 87 in the election concluded the previous month. (You may have noticed that 43 is not quite a majority—and that is the nub of the issue). In her policy speech, which is the first act of a new government where it must gain the “confidence of the House” by having its policy proposals approved by a majority vote, Ms. Clark performed a remarkable political turnaround. Continue reading “Copyright and Politics: Interesting Bedfellows”