Should Google Search be subject to the Rule of Law? Absolutely! (Google v Equustek)

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photo source: shutterstock.com

This sounds like a simple and straightforward question to which most people at first blush would instinctively say yes. However that question is the subject of an important case currently being heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. In Google Inc v Equustek Solutions, the Court is hearing an appeal by Google of a ruling by the Supreme Court in British Columbia (B.C.), upheld on appeal in the B.C. Court of Appeal, that issued an interim injunction requiring Google to de-index or delist (i.e. not return search results for) the website of a firm (Datalink Gateways) that was marketing goods online based on the theft of trade secrets from Equustek, a Vancouver, B.C., based hi-tech firm that makes sophisticated industrial equipment. Google wants to quash a decision by the lower courts on several grounds, primarily that the basis of the injunction is extra-territorial in nature and that if Google were to be subject to Canadian law in this case, this could open a Pandora’s box of rulings from other jurisdictions that would require global delisting of websites thus interfering with freedom of expression online, and in effect “break the Internet”. Google’s position is specious and contradictory, and I will explain why I think so below. Continue reading “Should Google Search be subject to the Rule of Law? Absolutely! (Google v Equustek)”

The “Focus on Creators” Campaign in Canada

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Used with permission of Music Canada

What do Alanis Morissette, Margaret Atwood, Bryan Adams, Marie Claire Blais, Michael Bublé, Sharon Pollock, Gordon Lightfoot and William Deverell have in common? Yes, they are all Canadian (eh?) But more important they are all signatories to a letter, now numbering over 1300 musicians, authors, songwriters, poets, composers, actors and other cultural creators, co-sponsored by Music Canada and the Writer’s Union of Canada and supported by The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), The League of Canadian Poets, The Canadian Music Publishers Association, The Playwrights Guild of Canada, The Canadian Country Music Association and Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC), to Canada’s Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly. That is a pretty impressive array of cultural firepower. Continue reading “The “Focus on Creators” Campaign in Canada”

The Demise of the TPP and its Impact on Copyright

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Source: shutterstock.com

 For all intents and purposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead—or at the very least it will be in a state of suspended animation for a considerable period to come— given that President-elect Trump has announced that he will initiate the process to have the US withdraw from the Agreement on Day 1 of his Presidency. And that will end the TPP as we know it because of the Agreement’s terms; it will come into effect two years after signature (which took place in February of 2016) provided that at least six of the twelve countries representing 85% of the total GDP of the partners ratify and bring it into force. Between them the US and Japan represent about 80% of the GDP total (US-62%) so in effect this gives both countries a veto, with the US alone being able to prevent the deal from coming into effect. It has been argued that if the Agreement isn’t implemented that it doesn’t die, but rather just sits on the shelf. Technically that is true, and under a future US Administration it could be dusted off and revived if all parties agreed, but by the time that happens it will be a different world and considerable renegotiation will be needed. Continue reading “The Demise of the TPP and its Impact on Copyright”

If Wanda buys a major Hollywood studio, will we all be brainwashed by Chinese propaganda?

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Photography by author

The Chairman of China’s Dalian Wanda Group, Wang Jianlin, has made no secret of his ambition to buy a major Hollywood studio. Horrors! What next? Will we have China controlling the green-lighting of Hollywood films? What will happen to the inscrutable karate-chopping Oriental bad guys? (Who will play the role of heavies?) No more films on Tibet? If all that sounds like a stretch, consider this. Eighteen members of the US Congress have raised concerns about investment in Hollywood by Dalian Wanda, a major Chinese conglomerate that has already acquired AMC Cinemas and Legendary Pictures. Continue reading “If Wanda buys a major Hollywood studio, will we all be brainwashed by Chinese propaganda?”

The EU Digital Single Market and Publisher’s Rights: Protecting the Public Interest

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Goodereader.com. Used with permission

“A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny.” (Sir Winston Churchill)

Freedom of the press is one of the pillars of our democracy; investigative journalism keeps the system honest. Yet today the continued existence of a thriving and independent Fourth Estate is threatened as never before. With the migration of advertising revenues online, the traditional newspaper and news magazine is hurting, and shrinking. In the US, major newspapers like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Cincinnati Post and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review have closed their print editions, likely to never reappear. In Britain the Independent has gone exclusively online. Others, including a number in continental Europe, have closed (FT Deutschland) or have become thin, pale shadows of their previous existence. There is no easy remedy as ad revenues, which in the past sustained print journalism, have moved online. Continue reading “The EU Digital Single Market and Publisher’s Rights: Protecting the Public Interest”

Tackling Piracy in Australia: Village Roadshow’s New and Innovative Strategy

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Source: http://www.shutterstock.com

In a blockbuster speech delivered on October 10 to the Australian International Movie Convention meeting in Gold Coast, Queensland, Graham Burke, Co-Executive Chairman and Co-CEO of Australia’s largest entertainment company, Village Roadshow, took aim at the high rate of film piracy among Australian consumers and declared war on illegal downloading and streaming. Burke outlined a five point strategy to combat what he called a “piracy plague” in Australia. Pointing out that surveys show that

over 30% of young Australians aged 12-17 pirate movies and TV series,

Continue reading “Tackling Piracy in Australia: Village Roadshow’s New and Innovative Strategy”

Content in the Sky and in the Cloud: It’s Not Free

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Source: shutterstock.com

The news that Chinese technology company GoTech was “disinvited” from the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) trade show in the Netherlands last month after conditional access technology provider Nagravision won a $100 million lawsuit against the Chinese company in Texas for manufacturing set top boxes designed to circumvent access controls for Pay-TV platforms brought back memories of the long saga fought by satellite providers in Canada to stop illegal accessing of DirecTV’s satellite signal by Canadians. Given that DirecTV is not licensed to distribute content in Canada, a variety of devious means were used to “trick” the system into believing that the Canadian subscriber resided in the US, usually aided by middle-men who exploited the grey market by setting up accounts in the US, and then selling them in Canada. Given the footprint of DirecTV’s satellite, the signal is easily received in many parts of Canada. It required some technical tweaking to ensure the receiver was properly tuned, but that was part of the “service” provided. Continue reading “Content in the Sky and in the Cloud: It’s Not Free”

The Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan: Songwriters Rejoice!

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Source: http://www.shutterstock.com

The news that Sweden’s Nobel Prize selection committee has awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to noted songwriter Bob Dylan is exciting news. The Nobel Prize has a long pedigree and the prize for literature has previously been awarded to such noted authors as William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, John Steinbeck, Thomas Mann, William Faulkner, Jean-Paul Sartre, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemmingway, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and many other familiar names, and in more recent years to Alice Munro, Patrick Modiano, and Svetlana Alexievich. The prize itself dates back to 1895 when industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, left most of the wealth in his will to establish the prizes the first of which were awarded in several categories, including Literature, in 1901. Continue reading “The Nobel Prize for Bob Dylan: Songwriters Rejoice!”

The Great Scoop: Feeding Google’s AI Machine

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Source: shutterstock.com

Oh Google! You’ve done it again! You have taken a good idea—one that could help creativity–and once again blotted your copybook by antagonizing the creative community you profess to serve. Yet again you have turned a blind eye to the rights of writers and creators to serve your own ends, all in the name of “progress”. First it was the digitizing of all those books in public libraries—without the approval of the authors of those works. Then, once the works were digitized you indexed them by putting up large excerpts on the web for free use without as much as a “by your leave” to the copyright holders. While this could be seen as somewhat akin to a digital version of flipping through a book in a library, looking at excerpts, there is a big difference because a) the library has purchased the book and b) the library’s users are all pre-qualified in some way, as residents or students for example. I know that this “transformative use” has been ruled to be within the four corners of fair use by the US courts, but it doesn’t mean that it is morally right. Continue reading “The Great Scoop: Feeding Google’s AI Machine”

Copyright Review in Canada: Myths and Facts

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Source: shutterstock.com

The Need for Regular Copyright Review

Five years after the introduction of the Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11) in 2012 under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, preparations are being made for the statutory five year review in late 2017 by the relatively new Liberal government of Justin Trudeau. The 2012 Act, which brought Canada’s copyright laws into the digital age and implemented legal changes required to give effect to Canada’s accession to the WIPO Internet treaties, satisfied some copyright stakeholders and dissatisfied others, as is often the case with legislative change. New fair dealing exceptions for education were introduced, a move that has severely damaged the Canadian educational publishing industry, and which many publishers and authors would like to see repealed or narrowed. Some of the new provisions were phased in and it is only relatively recently that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been legally required to forward infringement notices to those on their network. This system is still being “broken in”, and has suffered some teething pains. Given the lengthy delay that occurred prior to the passage of C-11 (Canada signed the WIPO Internet treaties in 1997 but it took fifteen years before implementing legislation was adopted), a legally mandated legislative review every five years is a good idea. In the fast moving digital age, there will always be a need to take stock of how well the regulatory framework responds to the real world of consumers, creators and industry. Continue reading “Copyright Review in Canada: Myths and Facts”

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