Copyright Industries and Creators in the Age of COVID-19: The Impact and the Response

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As I sit here looking out my window at fresh daffodils and cherry blossoms, it is hard to imagine that a potentially deadly virus is stalking the land. Of course I am lucky to be where I am, on Vancouver Island where spring has arrived; in other parts of Canada and the world spring flowers are still a few weeks away, but they will come, COVID-19 or not. And that is important to remember; nature’s cycle goes on and we want to ensure that we take all necessary measures now so that we enjoy many more springs to come. Continue reading “Copyright Industries and Creators in the Age of COVID-19: The Impact and the Response”

AI, Ethics and Copyright

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The intrusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our daily lives has raised major questions of ethics among researchers, companies that are developing and using AI, and of course consumers. Already algorithms play an important if largely invisible role in our daily affairs, controlling everything from how our tax returns are assessed, to the ads that we receive online, to our insurability and calculation of life expectancy….and of course many, many more applications. Efforts to combat COVID-19 is the latest manifestation of this, from self-assessment tools put online by various jurisdictions in North America to the app used in some Chinese cities that assigns a green/yellow/red code to personal cellphones.  Without a green code, free movement is impossible. The app is apparently linked to police databases and tracks movements, yet another example of algorithm “mission creep”, even if the goal on this occasion is understandable. But algorithms, seemingly ubiquitous these days, are only a stepping stone on the way to Artificial Intelligence. Continue reading “AI, Ethics and Copyright”

Implementing the USMCA/CUSMA: What Copyright-Related Constraints (and Costs) Does it Impose on Canada—and the US?

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The USMCA (called the CUSMA in Canada—just because we like to be different—I will use the two terms interchangeably) has passed in the US Congress and been signed by President Trump. It has also completed the ratification process in Mexico. But in Canada, where Justin Trudeau heads a minority Liberal government, it is still undergoing review in Parliament. To be completely accurate, the implementing legislation is undergoing review, since Parliamentary approval is not required for an international treaty, but when that treaty requires changes to legislation, those changes must be approved by Parliament. While it is a given that this will sail through when a vote finally comes, the opposition parties are making the Liberals jump through hoops by demanding hearings on the legislation, known as Bill C-4. The Bill will amend 24 disparate pieces of legislation ranging from the Copyright Act and Broadcasting Act to the Bank Act, the Canada Grain Act, the Fertilizers Act, the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act and on and on. This amalgam of various legislative amendments is required for Canada to be in compliance with its USMCA commitments. Continue reading “Implementing the USMCA/CUSMA: What Copyright-Related Constraints (and Costs) Does it Impose on Canada—and the US?”

Fair Use by Stealth: The “Such As” Proposal in Canada

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Last week (February 24-28) was “Fair Use/Fair Dealing” week in the US, Canada and some other countries. Many libraries, such as the Association of Research Libraries in the US (ARL has a few Canadian members) and a number of universities in Canada are active in promoting fair use and fair dealing week. It is the occasion to remind ourselves that an integral part of the copyright system is the fair use and fair dealing exceptions built into copyright law. As I have commented in the past, anyone who is an author almost certainly uses the flexibility offered by fair use or fair dealing to enable the creation of new works. Under fair dealing in Canada there are legitimate exceptions to copyright for a number of purposes. These include research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, or news reporting. For criticism, review, and news reporting, the source and author must be named to constitute fair dealing. (In addition there are other specified exceptions such as “non-commercial user-generated content”, “reproduction for private purposes” and “recording programs for later listening or viewing”, and so on.) Continue reading “Fair Use by Stealth: The “Such As” Proposal in Canada”