Can Copyright Law Protect Indigenous Culture? If Not, What is the Answer?


This is one of the questions that arose during the recent review of Canada’s Copyright Act by two Parliamentary Committees, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU Committee). Among the issues that Parliamentarians looked at was the issue of indigenous culture and its relationship to copyright law. The fundamental dichotomy between western notions of copyright and indigenous culture relates to a couple of issues; the fact that western copyright is a right asserted by individual creators (for the most part)—joint authorship and collective works are clearly an exception to this rule—and the fact that protection is limited to a set period of time, usually the life of the author plus a period extending from 50 years or more beyond the author’s demise. That may seem like a long period of time, but it is not very long when it comes to protection against misuse or misappropriation of traditional cultural artifacts and expressions. Continue reading “Can Copyright Law Protect Indigenous Culture? If Not, What is the Answer?”

MPA’s Logo Goes Global—Reflecting the Association’s Global Reach

In an announcement on September 18, the Motion Picture Association-MPA (formerly the Motion Picture Association of America-MPAA) announced that it was rebranding all its regional offices, which in the past have had different names and different logos, with the new identifier MPA-(Region) and the “globe and reel” logo familiar to US audiences. Thus, for example, the MPAA becomes MPA-America. This completes a process that began a few years ago to bring the various MPA offices under one common branding umbrella. As an example, in Canada for many years the association that represents the MPA members (the now five major Hollywood studios with the recent addition of Netflix) was called the CMPDA (Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association), which often led to confusion with the CMPA (Canadian Media Producers Association), an association of producers of Canadian media. A few years ago the CMPDA became MPA-Canada, a much clearer statement of who it was, with its own bilingual (English-French) logo featuring, naturally enough, a maple leaf. Now it will have a unified logo in common with other MPA affiliate organizations. Continue reading “MPA’s Logo Goes Global—Reflecting the Association’s Global Reach”

Copyright Governance Danish Style: Is This “Hygge” in Action?

Used with permission

My wife and I recently visited Denmark, a country we had only briefly stopped in years ago in order to take our (then) very young daughter to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. But of course there is so much more to Denmark than Tivoli, or Lego, or Danish pastries, or all of the other clichés that we become used to. While no country is without some problems, Denmark comes across to a visitor as a laid-back, clean, tolerant and efficient country. It consistently ranks as No. 1 or 2 on Transparency International’s anti-corruption index (New Zealand being its main competitor) and honesty is valued. Danes pay some of the highest rate of tax in the world, but seem to feel that they get their money’s worth. In fact, one of the main attributes of “Danishness” is its reputation for happiness. In surveys Denmark is repeatedly found to be one of the world’s happiest countries and the Danes among the world’s happiest people. Various theories have been advanced for this outcome, including relative income equality, a well- structured social safety net (thus a reduction in anxiety levels), a high degree of mutual trust and an innate sense of well-being incorporated in the Danish term “hygge” (pronounced hyügeh, as I learned after initially mangling the word to the incomprehension of my Danish friends). Continue reading “Copyright Governance Danish Style: Is This “Hygge” in Action?”

Canada’s General Election: The Copyright Angle

Modified from

“The writ has dropped”. I am not sure where that arcane term comes from but in Canada it means that the electoral campaign to decide which party and leader will form the next government has begun. This will not be news to my Canadian readers but may be to those outside Canada, given the paucity of coverage in the foreign media on things Canadian–except perhaps for Bianca Andreescu’s victory over Serena Williams at the US Open. Continue reading “Canada’s General Election: The Copyright Angle”

Mural, Mural on the Wall: Were They Commissioned, One and All?

(c) Michelle Loughery, 2007. By permission of the artist.

Maybe you remember the story of the Canadian muralist Michelle Loughery who painted many of the wall murals that adorn the walls of buildings in Merritt, BC, the self-proclaimed “country music capital of Canada”? If you missed it (ICYMI, as they say these days), here is the link to “Mural, Mural on the Wall—Who’s the Owner of Them All?” It is the story of Michelle Loughery, community activist and artist who, with the assistance of local youth, painted most of the murals about a decade ago in cooperation with a local NGO called the “Merritt Walk of Stars Society”. That Society has since been wound up but has been succeeded by another organization, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame (CCMHF). It’s a complicated story but it involves who owns the copyright to the murals, at least some of which are clearly marked with Loughery’s © notification. (see photo above). Continue reading “Mural, Mural on the Wall: Were They Commissioned, One and All?”

Section 230 is Dangerous–Keep it Out of Trade Negotiations


Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA), a US statute passed in the infancy of the internet, just can’t stay out of the news. Section 230 is the clause inserted into the CDA that, as interpreted by the US courts over the years, has allowed internet intermediaries to avoid liability for content posted by users that is made available on their platforms. (It also allows those platforms to remove content considered to be “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such content is constitutionally protected”, but the focus of the tech community has been on avoiding any liability for doing nothing to restrict offensive user content rather than on its ability to take action against such content). It is highly controversial from many aspects, and can truly be described as a multi-edged sword, a measure that has come under attack primarily in the US, but also elsewhere, for a number of disparate reasons. Continue reading “Section 230 is Dangerous–Keep it Out of Trade Negotiations”

Tightening the Screws on Pirate Websites through Dynamic Website Blocking Injunctions


A pirate site is blocked through a court order yet like a chameleon it changes its colour (and IP address or URL) and is back up again tomorrow under a different guise. This is the reality that rights-holders have to face repeatedly in dealing with slippery pirate operators. But relief is coming. Continue reading “Tightening the Screws on Pirate Websites through Dynamic Website Blocking Injunctions”