Voluntary Piracy Site Blocking in British Schools: An Idea Worth Considering for Broader Application

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Disabling user access to offshore copyright-infringing websites (aka “site blocking”) is becoming an established practice in the UK (and in a number of other jurisdictions including Europe, Australia and elsewhere) where rights-holders can go to court, or use administrative means, to obtain an order requiring major ISPs to block access to specified offshore websites whose main purpose is to host and promote access to pirated content. After initial resistance, in countries where site blocking has become routinized ISPs generally do not oppose the orders and have accepted their responsibility to comply with them. Now, in the UK, this is being taken a step further. An article in TorrentFreak reports that a not-for-profit ISP, run by a charitable trust which supplies broadband to thousands of schools in London, will voluntarily block access to large numbers of pirate sites. The domains to be blocked will be drawn from the “Infringing Website List” maintained by London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit. Continue reading “Voluntary Piracy Site Blocking in British Schools: An Idea Worth Considering for Broader Application”

Feminism and Copyright Revisited

A few weeks ago I put my foot tenderly into the minefield of feminism, arguing in a blogWhat Does Feminism have to with Copyright in Canada”, that statements made by Carys Craig, a law professor at York University to the effect that robust copyright protections were anti-feminist were off base. My argument was that copyright laws, unlike law in some other areas, is gender-blind and in fact copyright has been an important factor in strengthening protection and welfare for all creators, both male and female. To ensure my message got out, I tweeted it as well as posting it on my blog. Continue reading “Feminism and Copyright Revisited”

Taiwan: A Centre of Reading, Publishing…and Democracy

Credit: Taipei Book Fair Foundation.

A recent article in Publishing Perspectives on the 2019 Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) caught my attention because it highlighted both the progress that Taiwan has made over the years in becoming an important centre for publishing (despite some ongoing problems with content piracy) and the important connection between reading, publishing, good governance and democratic values. The book fair, the 26th edition, took place in mid-February, featuring Germany as the “Guest of Honour” this year. The Director-General of the German Institute in Taipei (in effect Germany’s “unofficial embassy” to Taiwan), commented that; Continue reading “Taiwan: A Centre of Reading, Publishing…and Democracy”

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”