Copyright Review in Canada: Will Fair Dealing Be Widened Further, Tightened or Left As Is?

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There are many issues under consideration as the mandated five year review of the Copyright Act in Canada continues to grind away, but one area to be carefully watched is that of fair dealing. Will fair dealing be widened further as it was during the last revision in 2012, or will at least some of the new and expanded exceptions introduced in the 2012 Copyright Modernization Act be tightened? Or, perhaps, will the government duck the issue and decide to leave things more or less as they are until the next review in five years’ time? There is a lot riding on the outcome of the review, particularly for some copyright industries like publishers of educational books. Continue reading “Copyright Review in Canada: Will Fair Dealing Be Widened Further, Tightened or Left As Is?”

The US Case Against Huawei: The Copyright Angle

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For those of us who find copyright to be a fascinating field of study, copyright issues lurk everywhere. Thus when the US crusade against China’s leading technology company, Huawei, hit the headlines with the arrest in Vancouver in December of the company’s CFO Meng Wanzhou, I couldn’t help but wonder if past allegations about the company’s history of IP theft figured into the equation and whether there was a copyright angle to the story. Guess what? I think there is. Continue reading “The US Case Against Huawei: The Copyright Angle”

Did Canada get “Section 230” Shoved Down its Throat in the USMCA?

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Last week in writing about the issue of SuperBowl ads, I referred to Annex 15-D of the new NAFTA, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA, or CUSMA as it is referred to in Canada) that will restore (once the Agreement is in force) the practice of substituting Canadian ads into the Superbowl broadcast even if Canadians are watching the game on a US channel redistributed in Canada. If this very minor issue was worthy of inclusion in this broad-reaching trade agreement, it is worth examining in more detail what else is in there. For example, what did Canada and the other two partners agree to that will affect creators and rights-holders? In addition to IP safe harbours for Internet Service Providers in Chapter 20, the intellectual property chapter (which grandfathers Canada’s existing “notice and notice” system), there is another type of safe harbour provision buried in the chapter that deals with digital trade, Chapter 19. Article 19.17 addresses safe harbours for content that may infringe laws in areas other than intellectual property. It says;

“…other than as provided in paragraph 4 below, no Party shall adopt or maintain measures that treat a supplier or user of an interactive computer service as an information content provider in determining liability for harms related to information stored, processed, transmitted, distributed, or made available by the service, except to the extent the supplier or user has, in whole or in part, created, or developed the information”. Continue reading “Did Canada get “Section 230” Shoved Down its Throat in the USMCA?”

“Simsub” and SuperBowl Ads: Canadians, Enjoy Them While You Can

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In a world of threatened border walls, trade wars with China, a US government shutdown, politics, the rising cost of living and the weather, the annual SuperBowl classic is a welcome distraction for many, if not most, North Americans. For many Canadians it really doesn’t matter which US team is playing which other US team; the game is a pleasant respite from the icy grip of winter that prevails over most of the country at this time of year except, happily for me, on Vancouver Island where I am fortunate enough to live. It is not just the game itself; it is also about the half time entertainment (although this is not without its controversies this year), and the ads. The creative Superbowl ads have become an attraction in themselves and have ended up being a source of US-Canada trade friction, as I reported in a blog on this issue two years ago. Two years on, the issue is still before the courts in Canada (at the Supreme Court level) and until the updated NAFTA agreement (USMCA or CUSMA if you are in Canada) is ratified and in force, it will remain as a bilateral trade irritant alongside issues such as the Trump tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum (because Canada is a “national security” threat to the US), softwood lumber tariffs, and so on. How did it all come to this? Continue reading ““Simsub” and SuperBowl Ads: Canadians, Enjoy Them While You Can”

Blackbeard is Back: Will he make it to the Supreme Court?

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Next month will mark three years since I started writing this blog. I have enjoyed researching interesting and sometimes arcane international copyright topics, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them. When I first embarked on this project, I wanted to write on copyright issues from the perspective of an interested and reasonably well-informed layman (or should I say “layperson”?). There are lots of really good legal blogs on copyright, put out by individual and collective legal practitioners and associations. I rely on them for guidance in many instances, although I try not to go too far into legal issues because, as a non-lawyer, I don’t feel qualified to do so. As we all know, copyright is complex (which is what makes it so interesting to me), with no “one size fits all” doctrine or interpretation. While 176 countries have signed the Berne Convention and have accepted its minimum standards, the application of copyright law varies widely. Between two close neighbours, like Canada and the US for example, the differences can be quite striking. Continue reading “Blackbeard is Back: Will he make it to the Supreme Court?”

What does Feminism have to do with Copyright in Canada?

In the ongoing review of the Copyright Act of Canada, the Parliamentary Committee tasked with receiving testimony and formulating recommendations has received hundreds of submissions, ranging from proposals that would totally gut the current copyright regime to ones that argue for much stronger copyright provisions, or perhaps a rollback of some of the changes introduced in the last review in 2012. The rollback could include, depending on one’s position, anti-copyright measures such as dismantling the protection afforded technological protection measures (provisions against hacking) or pro-copyright provisions such as a narrowing of fair dealing exceptions. A variety of arguments has been posited by the protagonists on both sides (and this being an unapologetic pro-copyright blog, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty in figuring out where I stand on the spectrum). Most arguments have some degree of merit, depending on your stance on the copyright issue, but the most fanciful that I have seen is the one that argues that a weakening of copyright protections is pro-feminist. Or, put another way, copyright is anti-feminist. Continue reading “What does Feminism have to do with Copyright in Canada?”

A Visit to Canada’s “Notorious Market”, The Pacific Mall in Toronto

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The Pacific Mall in Toronto’s northern suburb of Markham enjoys the dubious distinction of being the only “notorious market” for the physical sale of counterfeit and pirated products in Canada or the US to be specifically highlighted in both the USTR’s Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets (2017) and the EU’s Copyright and Piracy Watch List published just last month, the first time such a document has been released by the European Commission. The EU document mentions a few other flea markets in the Greater Toronto Area and one in Quebec, but the bulk of its report on Canada is dedicated to the Pacific Mall. In the USTR report the Pacific Mall finds itself in such undistinguished company as the infamous Silk Market in Beijing, El Tepito in Mexico City, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and the Tan Binh market in Ho Chi Minh City. The EU Commission’s comparison list is even more extensive. With regard to Pacific Mall, the Commission reported; Continue reading “A Visit to Canada’s “Notorious Market”, The Pacific Mall in Toronto”