The Super Bowl, the CRTC and Promoting Canadian Content (They’re All Connected)


Last week, as most North American readers will know, the Super Bowl was played in Miami with the Kansas City Chiefs beating the San Francisco 49’ers in a tight, hard fought game to win the National Football League (NFL) championship. Great, but what, (you may ask,) does this have to do with copyright, content, and culture? Well, quite a bit if you are the Canadian broadcaster (Bell Media) that holds the Canadian broadcast rights to the game. For the past couple of years I have written blogs (here and here) on how the rather arcane simultaneous substitution (simsub) rules that govern Canadian broadcasting affect the Super Bowl broadcast in Canada, and what impact those rules have on Canadian broadcasting and, from a broader perspective, the funding that goes into the production of Canadian content. In understanding the issue, non-Canadian readers need to know that US networks are widely available to audiences in Canada, either over-the-air in border areas or more commonly carried by cable, fibre and satellite systems under a compulsory retransmission licence issued by the Canadian broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Continue reading “The Super Bowl, the CRTC and Promoting Canadian Content (They’re All Connected)”

Copyright Term Extension in Canada and the Interesting Case of Broadview Press: Is it “Playing the Victim” or Just “Playing the Game”?

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Last week I examined some of the tendentious arguments put forward to oppose bringing Canada’s term of copyright protection into alignment with that of most developed countries. Canada made a commitment in the new NAFTA that it will extend the term of protection by twenty years for most works covered by copyright, although exactly how and when that will occur is still not clear. I quoted a CBC broadcast/podcast (“The Cost of Living”) that professed to examine in a balanced way the pros and cons of extending Canada’s copyright term, yet decided to focus primarily on the supposed costs. It quoted Howard Knopf, a well-known copyright critic who has done some unsubstantiated back-of-the-envelope estimates of the costs to Canada, estimates that are—to say the least—fanciful and ungrounded in any semblance of analysis. Continue reading “Copyright Term Extension in Canada and the Interesting Case of Broadview Press: Is it “Playing the Victim” or Just “Playing the Game”?”

Copyright Term Extension in Canada: Facts versus “Fake News”

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Last week I discussed Article 20.62 of the new NAFTA (aka USMCA, or CUSMA if you are Canadian) that commits Canada to extend its term of copyright protection from life of the author plus 50 years to “life + 70” (for those works where protection is measured by the life of the author, which applies to the vast majority of creative works), bringing it into alignment with the US, EU and many other countries. Copyright minimalists in Canada oppose this change, although they are probably reconciled to it happening as part of the broader USMCA agreed to by Canada, the US and Mexico. (Now that the Agreement has passed the US Congress, all that remains is for the Canadian Parliament to pass its implementing legislation, and for the Agreement to be signed into law in the US and Canada. Canada will introduce legislation this week.) The new Agreement is likely to come into effect sometime this spring, although Canada has up to 2.5 years from the date of entry into force of USMCA/CUSMA to implement the copyright extension provisions. Continue reading “Copyright Term Extension in Canada: Facts versus “Fake News””

The New NAFTA (USCMA/CUSMA) and Copyright Term Extension in Canada: How and When will Canada Implement its Commitment?


Now that the new NAFTA (or USMCA, aka CUSMA in Canada) has received final approval in the US Senate, that just leaves approval by the Canadian Parliament to be completed so that the new agreement can enter into force in all three countries later this year. Implementation will affect a number of areas, digital trade (Chapter 19) and intellectual property protection (Chapter 20) among them. Continue reading “The New NAFTA (USCMA/CUSMA) and Copyright Term Extension in Canada: How and When will Canada Implement its Commitment?”

Blockchain and Copyright: How can this new Technology serve Creators?

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As we roll into 2020, I thought it would be topical to look at a new technology that is very much in the news these days, and see how it could be harnessed to benefit copyright and creators.

We’ve all heard of blockchain, and its financial spin-off Bitcoin, but my guess is that very few of us really understand how blockchain works. That, at least, is where I stand and I am going to make the assumption that my lack of knowledge of the intricacies of blockchain is shared by at least some of my readers. And then there is its intersection with copyright, a growing topic and one well worth exploring. Continue reading “Blockchain and Copyright: How can this new Technology serve Creators?”

Internet Platform Immunity Language “Lite” Stays in New NAFTA Agreement, but It’s Not “Baked In” to US or Canadian Law

Credit: Shutterstock (adapted)

As we move into 2020, one of the first things on the agenda of the US Senate and Canadian Parliament will be ratification of the new NAFTA (aka USMCA, or CUSMA in Canada). Passage should be relatively smooth given the signing of an updated text (Protocol of Amendment) by officials from the US, Canada and Mexico on December 10, 2019, modifying the text of the Agreement originally signed a year earlier. Indeed the US House voted approval of ratifying legislation by a large margin just over a week later, on December 19, 2019.  It was that lack of ratification (passage of implementing legislation) that had led to the revisions because the Democrats in the US Congress (who command a majority in the House of Representatives) had made it clear to the Trump Administration that certain changes would be required before they would support a vote in the US House. Canada has also not ratified the Agreement, saying that it will move in lock-step with the American ratification process. (Mexico has already ratified.) Now that Prime Minister Trudeau no longer commands a majority in Parliament, easy Canadian ratification is not the “given” that it formerly was, but once the US Congress approves the deal it is hard to imagine that Canada won’t be far behind. Continue reading “Internet Platform Immunity Language “Lite” Stays in New NAFTA Agreement, but It’s Not “Baked In” to US or Canadian Law”

International Copyright Highlights of 2019


Every year at this time I take a peek in the rear view mirror and look back at the main copyright highlights of the past year, at least the ones that I have written about in my blog. I also check back on the “year-end reflections” post written the previous year, and it is remarkable how many issues come up year after year. Like Brexit, or NAFTA, or Blackbeard’s Law as examples. Continue reading “International Copyright Highlights of 2019”