A year ago, when I wrote about Dalian Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin’s boast that he would “devour” Disney’s theme parks in China (“Mickey’s Adventures in China: Theme Park Wars and Copyright”), Wanda was riding high. From humble beginnings as a property developer in the Chinese city of Dalian, Wang had become China’s wealthiest man through building mega shopping centres, many of them anchored by large cinema complexes, and had gone on to expand abroad, buying AMC Cinemas for $2.6 billion in 2012 and Legendary Pictures for $3.5 billion in 2016. Wang’s hunger for entertainment assets (he was eyeing Paramount) created such a political backlash in the US that 18 members of Congress signed a letter to the US General Accounting Office urging that the mechanism used in the US to review foreign investments from a national security angle (the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS) consider investment from China in the entertainment sector as a possible “strategic threat”. Why? Because, according to these members of Congress, such investment could result in exerting foreign propaganda control over US media. As I wrote at the time, this was a xenophobic over-reaction, but it illustrates the reach of Wanda. Continue reading “Wanda’s Wannabe Theme Parks in China: Lacking the “Secret Sauce” of Familiar Copyrighted Content”
The Challenges facing Print Media: Is Copyright Reform part of the Answer?
This year Canada is required to review and potentially update its copyright legislation. The passage of the Copyright Modernization Bill in 2012 included a statutory five year review. That formal review has not yet begun—it is scheduled to start in late fall—but in the meantime other work that could impact the review of copyright law is taking place. Among these are the cultural policy review that Heritage Minister Melanie Joly has committed to undertake, and a review on media industries, conducted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Continue reading “The Challenges facing Print Media: Is Copyright Reform part of the Answer?”
York University’s Appeal of the Access Copyright Case: A Further Waste of Public Funds
On July 31 York University announced that it would appeal the Federal Court decision that had handed the university a legal rebuff and stern reprimand over its appropriation, without payment, of content from the repertoire of copyright collective Access Copyright. As I noted in an earlier blog, the Federal Court’s decision was a welcome restoration of some balance to copyright in Canada. Now York has appealed. This is unfortunate and a further waste of public funds. The university should have accepted the judgment, revised its procedures, and focussed on the business of educating students with material that respects authors through payment of fair compensation. Continue reading “York University’s Appeal of the Access Copyright Case: A Further Waste of Public Funds”
Google Seeks to Invalidate Canadian Supreme Court Decision through US Courts: Could Google be Surprised?
“Ha, told you so”, seems to be the reaction from anti-copyright circles to Google’s decision to seek a US court ruling to block enforcement (in the US) of a British Columbia court order, upheld on appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), that requires Google to de-index from its search engines world-wide listings for a Canadian company that has been found guilty of intellectual property infringement by stealing trade secrets from a Canadian competitor and then passing off the copycat products as originals. Google is seeking relief from the Canadian order in its home bailiwick via the US District Court for Northern California on the basis that the order violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution, the Communications Decency Act and is against the principles of international comity. Continue reading “Google Seeks to Invalidate Canadian Supreme Court Decision through US Courts: Could Google be Surprised?”
The Access Copyright v York University Federal Court Decision: Restoring Some Balance to Copyright in Canada
The decision issued by the Federal Court of Canada on July 12 regarding the dispute between the copyright collective Access Copyright and one of Canada’s largest universities, York University (Toronto), marks an important step in swinging the pendulum of copyright back into greater balance. While the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) called the ruling “a setback for balanced copyright”, the decision is in fact just the opposite. It is a common sense judgment based on concrete evidence that restores the definition of “fairness” with respect to unlicenced copying by post-secondary educational institutions in Canada. Continue reading “The Access Copyright v York University Federal Court Decision: Restoring Some Balance to Copyright in Canada”
Jonathan Taplin’s “Move Fast and Break Things”: A Sombre Warning—And a Call for Action
Jonathan Taplin’s new book Move Fast and Break Things, published in April of this year, (the title is based on Facebook’s internal motto, since modified to make the company appear more responsible) has been attracting considerable attention as he embarks on the usual book launch media tour, in this case Down Under in Australia and New Zealand, and in the UK. Taplin’s core message is enshrined in the subtitle to the book, “How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy”. Those are pretty bold statements but Taplin, currently Director Emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC, builds a compelling case. He has a long and varied history in the entertainment business and can speak from experience, having been variously a manager of prominent bands in the 1960s (he was for a while full time tour manager for The Band), a film producer (his best known film is perhaps The Last Waltz), an investment banker working for Merrill Lynch, an entrepreneur who started an early video on demand service, Intertainer, that was arguably ahead of its time, and a writer and thinker on media and digital issues. Continue reading “Jonathan Taplin’s “Move Fast and Break Things”: A Sombre Warning—And a Call for Action”
The Supreme Court of Canada’s De-Indexing Decision: Does it Widen or Constrain Google’s Power?
In my previous blog on the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) decision requiring Google to de-index from its global search the website of a company (Datalinks Gateways) that had been found by the BC Supreme Court to be infringing the intellectual property of another BC company, Equustek Solutions, I commented that the decision was a victory for both the rule of law and for common sense. The Court dismissed Google’s appeal of the earlier BC decision on a number of grounds, including rejection of the argument put forward by a number of intervenors supporting Google who claimed that a world-wide de-indexing order would interfere with freedom of expression on the internet. The Court explicitly rejected that argument, reasoning that reasonable enforcement of intellectual property laws and freedom of expression on the internet are two different issues. Continue reading “The Supreme Court of Canada’s De-Indexing Decision: Does it Widen or Constrain Google’s Power?”
The Supreme Court of Canada and Google: A Victory for Common Sense
It wasn’t a great week for Google. First on June 27 the EU antitrust regulators fined Google a whopping 2.42 billion Euros ($2.7 billion USD) for engaging in anti-competitive and unfair behaviour by favouring its own shopping sites over third parties through its search platform, and gave it 90 days to alter its practices or face further penalties. Then a day later the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) upheld a provincial Court of Appeal decision requiring Google to de-index the website of a company (Datalink Gateways) that had been accused of infringing the intellectual property and trade secrets of a competing company (Equustek Solutions), based in British Columbia. That in itself would not be unusual. What was ground-breaking was that the SCC upheld the BC Appeal Court’s decision to require that the de-indexing have world-wide application, on all of Google’s search engines, not just within Canada on Google.ca. Continue reading “The Supreme Court of Canada and Google: A Victory for Common Sense”
Copyright, Folklore and Traditional Native Culture
I recently came back from a wonderful vacation with my wife in New Mexico. This is a spectacular part of the US for art lovers, as well as for those interested in nature and history. Santa Fe seems to have more art museums than gas stations, ranging from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum to the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Institute of American Indian Arts and many others. There are private galleries galore, and many native vendors selling art. The art scene, which first achieved prominence in the 1920’s, extends to other centres as well, such as Taos, Abiqiui, and a number of native “pueblos”. (If this sounds like an unsolicited plug for New Mexico as a place to visit, it is). Continue reading “Copyright, Folklore and Traditional Native Culture”
Girl Guides of Canada Oppose Copyright Term Extension! What Next?
Who among us has not purchased the ubiquitous Girl Guide cookies (aka Girl Scout cookies in the USA), available outside a supermarket or in a mall of your choice every spring. Even if you are not a fan of this particular version of the oreo cookie, one takes satisfaction from knowing that the money is going to a good cause. The Girl Guides (or Girl Scouts) is a great organization, dedicated–according to the website of the Girl Guides of Canada (GGC)–to making a “positive difference in the life of every girl and woman who experiences Guiding so she can contribute responsibly to her communities.” Its mission is to enable girls “to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world”. These are laudable goals, and one would expect that money provided to the Guides through cookie sales or direct donation would go directly to support programs for girls. Thus it was with some degree of surprise that I learned that at least some of the money raised goes for political causes that are not exactly central to Guiding, such as lobbying the Parliament of Canada to oppose any extension to the term of copyright protection. Continue reading “Girl Guides of Canada Oppose Copyright Term Extension! What Next?”