The surprising and welcome news from Tokyo that Canada and the ten other members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) had agreed to conclude what is now called the “Comprehensive and Progressive TPP”, coming as it did on the opening day of the latest round of NAFTA negotiations in Montreal, was interesting in its timing. This may have been coincidental since TPP negotiators were meeting in Japan in an attempt to resolve outstanding differences in order to fast-track the conclusion of their Agreement, which is now to be officially sealed on March 8 in Chile, while resumed NAFTA negotiations were simultaneously getting underway half a world away. Coincidental or not, the conclusion of the TPP sends a signal to the US that both Canada and Mexico are committed to trade liberalisation at a time when the Trump Administration is beating the protectionist drum. The TPP is not an alternative to NAFTA, but is a move toward greater trade diversification on the part of two of the largest trading partners of the US. Continue reading “The Revised TPP, NAFTA Renegotiations–and the Risk of Blindly Expanding Internet Safe Harbours”
The following article appeared in the January 10, 2018 edition of Inside Policy, the Journal of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
A lot of ink has been spilled lately over reports that Canadian content owners and broadcasters, led by Bell Media but including other content players such as Cineplex and broadcaster/ISPs (Rogers, Shaw), are finally proposing a solution to the problem of rogue offshore websites streaming pirated content to Canadian audiences. Continue reading “Why the Time Has Come to Block Offshore Pirate Websites in Canada”
It’s a truism that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and this old adage applies in spades to the phenomenon of pirate websites that allow users to access “free” content. The only thing free about the content is that it is “free” to the content theft websites because they have obtained it illegally through various means and then made it available to users who download or stream content they have not paid for. But these pirate sites are not charity operations. They need a revenue stream and that revenue stream, in the absence of any payment for the content they have purloined, is from advertising. Continue reading “Tightening up Online Advertising will starve Pirate Websites of their Means of Support”
I hope this headline got your attention. It may be a bit of “copyright trivia” but it is nevertheless true! Read on.
It is axiomatic among many of my American friends in the content industry that copyright protection in the US, while not perfect, is better than the protection afforded to copyrighted works in Canada. That was certainly the thrust of much of the US comment at the time of the revision of Canada’s Copyright Act in 2011-12 and is a theme repeated regularly in inputs to the annual USTR Special 301 process by groups such as the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) and in the 301 Report itself. And they are not wrong. Canada’s copyright system is not terrible, but it could certainly be improved. Among the improvements needed are revisions to overly-wide fair dealing exceptions such as those for “education” and “user generated content” that were introduced in the revised 2012 Act. Continue reading ““Copyright Trivia”: Some Works Get Longer Protection in Canada than in the US”
If a transparent, government-regulated mechanism, with an appeal process, was put in place to require ISPs in Canada to block access to offshore pirate websites that “blatantly, overwhelmingly or structurally” engage in or facilitate copyright infringing activities, would that constitute a “dangerous, anti-speech and anti-consumer proposal”? Apparently so, according to anti-copyright commentator Michael Geist, echoed by US online magazine, TechDirt, which headlined its story “Canadian ISPs And Hollywood Agree On Plan To Make Themselves Judge, Jury and Website Executioner”. Clearly hyperbole knows no national boundaries. Continue reading “Disabling Access to Infringing Offshore Websites (Site Blocking) and Free Speech on the Internet: There is no Contradiction”
2017 was quite a year on the trade policy front. It saw Britain triggering the Brexit exit clause and then trying to work out with the EU the modalities for UK-EU relations after British withdrawal. It saw the start of NAFTA re-negotiations between Canada, Mexico and the US, a process which has seen accusations of intransigence by the negotiating partners and has led to active debate within the US as to the wisdom of some of the US negotiating objectives. 2017 was also the year when the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was re-invented as the TPP11 (i.e. the original TPP minus the US). While all of these agreements had implications going far beyond copyright issues, copyright was very much a part of the mix. Continue reading “That Was the Year That Was: Looking Back at Some International Copyright Issues in 2017”
As we get geared up for the Christmas (oops, I mean “seasonal”) shopping extravaganza, one’s thoughts turn to what to get for those hard-to-buy-for family members. Giving a good book is usually a winner, but there is always the question of “has she read it”, or “will he like it?” Or, “do they still read hard-copy books?” For a few years, buying a DVD series always seemed like a good idea but that seems to be somewhat out of fashion in this age of streaming content. Could I buy a gadget to make their viewing experience better? There are lots of offerings out there, generically known as Kodi boxes, but beware. Many are not what they seem, or put another way, many will lead consumers into a morass of grey market activity where they really shouldn’t go. And recent tests have shown that there are lots of unbranded “Kodi” boxes out there that are unsafe and don’t meet even basic electrical safety standards. (Kodi itself is a legal software installed in set top boxes). Continue reading “When “Ticking the Box” is Not Such a Good Idea”