Access Copyright vs York University: High Stakes for Canadian Culture

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Last week saw the beginning of a long-awaited trial pitting the authors and publishers collective, Access Copyright, against one of Canada’s largest universities, York University of Toronto. Continue reading “Access Copyright vs York University: High Stakes for Canadian Culture”

A Copyright Controversy: The Giant Rubber Ducky is Back

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There is no ducking it. Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s giant rubber ducky creation is back in the news, and once again is the centre of a controversy over copyright. Continue reading “A Copyright Controversy: The Giant Rubber Ducky is Back”

The Australian Productivity Commission’s Copyright Recommendations: Using a Sledgehammer to Kill a Fly (or Killing the Golden Goose)


When that pesky fly lands on your morning toast or afternoon scone, you can ignore it, or you can take reasonable responsive measures, such as closing the window, putting up a screen, or shooing it away. But if you don’t care about the consequences, you can take really draconian action like grabbing a sledgehammer to exterminate it once and for all. Of course, there might be some collateral damage, like broken chinaware, smashed fingers and a destroyed table, but for sure the fly will no longer be part of your life. That, it seems to me, is exactly what the Australian Productivity Commission has done in its Draft Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements, released on April 29 of this year. Continue reading “The Australian Productivity Commission’s Copyright Recommendations: Using a Sledgehammer to Kill a Fly (or Killing the Golden Goose)”

Whales, Copyright…..and Censorship?

Slide1A couple of months ago a story about the Vancouver Aquarium and copyright infringement caught my attention. It is not every day that whales and copyright get discussed in the same sentence. In this case the Aquarium had brought a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement against film-maker Gary Charbonneau, accusing him of lifting segments of his film (which was highly critical of the Aquarium’s whale, porpoise and dolphin program) from the Aquarium’s website without authorization. It was an interesting subject for a blog, I thought, illustrating the importance of copyright principles in daily life. A month or so later, the British Columbia Supreme Court issued an injunction at the request of the Aquarium requiring Charbonneau to remove from his film 15 contested segments, amounting to about 4 ½ minutes out of an hour long film. I updated my original blog to keep those interested informed of developments, and thought that would be that. But I was wrong. The “Whale of a (Copyright) Tale” story is the gift that keeps on giving, at least in terms of generating discussion of copyright issues. Continue reading “Whales, Copyright…..and Censorship?”

Blackbeard and the Modern Day Pirates Commons)
Blackbeard (Creative Commons)

Edward Teach was a notorious pirate, Blackbeard by nickname. Despite the “swashbuckling” image of pirates­ and the glorification of their exploits that has come down to us through years of story-telling, Blackbeard’s stock in trade was stealing what belonged to others—just like today’s modern copyright pirates. That is what makes the story of Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, (QAR) and the film-maker who filmed the wreck and its recovery efforts, so topical—and ironic. It’s a fitting reminder having just marked World Intellectual Property Day, 2016 that vigilance to protect copyright is as important today as vigilance against Blackbeard’s raids was almost 300 years ago. Continue reading “Blackbeard and the Modern Day Pirates”

Knitting, Crocheting and Copyright: Unravelling the Truth



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Recently a Manitoba based writer, Joanne Seiff, posted an op-ed on CBC (Time to Assess the True Cost of Digital Piracy) commenting on how digital piracy is undermining the delicate economic equation that allows both aspiring and established writers to continue to create new content for the benefit of the consuming public. Joanne has published two books, Fiber Gathering and Knit Green, available on Amazon, on the subject of knitting and textiles. Continue reading “Knitting, Crocheting and Copyright: Unravelling the Truth”

The TPP and Intellectual Property: Tilting at the Wrong Windmill

Don-Quixote-Windmill-e1424097291880( Balsillie, former co-CEO and founder of RIM, now Blackberry, has saddled up, mounted his horse and pointed his lance squarely at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Charge! One of his recent opinion pieces, in Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, is headlined, “For Canadian innovators, will TPP mean protection – or colonialism?” Not content with this coverage, he has taken his message beyond the print media to national radio, reiterating earlier criticisms in which he said that that Canada’s decision to sign the TPP would be the “worst thing in policy that Canada’s ever done” because of provisions hidden in the Intellectual Property (IP) chapter. Balsillie’s criticism was quickly picked up by arch-TPP critic Michael Geist who has made a cottage industry of criticizing the TPP. His creativity knows no bounds; so far he is on his 49th blog as to why the TPP is a bad idea from an intellectual property, privacy, cultural, internet, etc., etc. perspective. When will he make it a nice round 50? One could be forgiven for believing that Prof. Geist subscribes to the “every sparrow that falls” syndrome, used to describe critics of the original Canada-US Free Trade Agreement back in the 1980s. Continue reading “The TPP and Intellectual Property: Tilting at the Wrong Windmill”

A Whale of a (Copyright) Tale: An Update

whaleA few weeks ago I posted a blog about a lawsuit filed by the Vancouver Aquarium against film-maker Gary Charbonneau for copyright infringement. Charbonneau had made a film critical of the Aquarium’s cetacean (whale, porpoise and dolphin) rehabilitation program, in which he had used, without permission, copyrighted material from the Aquarium’s website in his film. The Aquarium sued for damages and sought an injunction compelling Charbonneau to remove the film from his website, and restraining its publication elsewhere, such as on Youtube.  Continue reading “A Whale of a (Copyright) Tale: An Update”

The Costs and Benefits of Copyright: Getting the Facts Straight


Last week I wrote about ‎the exaggerated and wildly inaccurate claims made by opponents of copyright term extension in Canada regarding the supposed economic losses to the Canadian economy of extending the term of protection from 50 to 70 years. Continue reading “The Costs and Benefits of Copyright: Getting the Facts Straight”

The TPP and Copyright Term Extension: What is the true cost to Canada?


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The Trans-Pacific Partnership seeks to provide greater uniformity and harmonization of regulations among its members as a means of reducing regulatory barriers and facilitating trade. Continue reading “The TPP and Copyright Term Extension: What is the true cost to Canada?”

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