The Art in the Ravine—Can I Legally Post this Photo?

Photo: Author

This story starts with an abandoned rail line in the ravine behind my townhouse in Toronto, which I enjoy walking along with my six year old grand-daughter who thinks of it as her “secret railway”. It is very overgrown and hasn’t been used for years, but has an interesting history. Originally incorporated as the Ontario and Quebec Railway in 1881, until recently it still existed as a legal entity even though the company was absorbed by the CPR many years ago. Continue reading “The Art in the Ravine—Can I Legally Post this Photo?”

Google‘s “Stoush” with New Zealand: Who Will Prevail?

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Why is it that every time I write about Google, they have done something else to antagonize national governments? Once again they are in hot water in New Zealand, owing to Google’s proclivity to thumb its nose at small nations (and sometimes quite big nations) because, well, they’re Google and they’re big, and they’re everywhere. This time, as reported in the New Zealand media, Google violated a publication ban imposed in a high-profile murder case by circulating a British news story that identified the accused, showing his picture, and highlighting it all in a “what’s trending New Zealand” email to subscribers (a number of whom were in New Zealand). The NZ publication ban was imposed so as not to impair the accused’s right to a fair trial because of media reports that might influence a jury. Continue reading “Google‘s “Stoush” with New Zealand: Who Will Prevail?”

Canadian Copyright Review: The Case of Indigenous Culture

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As it prepares to take on the task of bringing forth amendments to Canada’s copyright legislation, the Canadian government will be digesting and assessing two recent Parliamentary reports dealing with copyright issues, Shifting Paradigms, the report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the INDU Committee Report, the report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. The two reports came out within a couple of weeks of each other, and both put forward a number of recommendations, some of which were mutually inconsistent. The copyright community generally applauded Shifting Paradigms and while there were elements it supported in the INDU Committee Report, it is fair to say that it was less than enthusiastic about some of the latter’s recommendations, as I discussed in an earlier blog. However one area where both Committees shared the same wavelength was with respect to indigenous culture and the impact that copyright can have on native artists and traditional indigenous expression. Continue reading “Canadian Copyright Review: The Case of Indigenous Culture”

“Mural, Mural on the Wall: Who’s the Owner of Them All?”

(c) Michelle Loughery, 2007. By permission of the artist.

For a small town in British Columbia, it’s a tale of high drama and threatened lawsuits. Merritt, BC, population about 7000, is a small ranching, sawmill and tourist town situated in the Nicola Valley in the interior of the province, a 3 hour drive from Vancouver. I passed a university summer of my misspent youth there, working in the big open-pit copper mine (Craigmont) that used to be one of the mainstays of the economy. The mine is long closed and now the good citizens of Merritt use various techniques to attract visitors, such as holding an annual country music festival, (which in some years increases the population of the town some twentyfold), hosting the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and displaying a number of creative murals that grace various buildings around town, all tied to the country music theme. It’s a rollicking little town that has become caught up in the crossfire of a copyright controversy. Continue reading ““Mural, Mural on the Wall: Who’s the Owner of Them All?””

Copyright Review in Canada: INDU Committee Issues Clumsy and Tone-Deaf “We’re in Charge” Press Release

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In an extraordinary display of gamesmanship, (one might say one-upmanship) the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU Committee) felt compelled to issue a clumsy and tone-deaf press release, titled “On Shifting Paradigms” on June 18 reminding the world that it has “sole responsibility” for the statutory review of the Copyright Act. It is most unusual for one Parliamentary Committee to comment publicly on the work of another, in this case the report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Shifting Paradigms, issued last month. In effect, the press release confirms that in delivering its report, the INDU Committee did not take into account the Heritage Committee’s report even though Shifting Paradigms addressed a number of issues relevant to the current review of the Act, and even though it was commissioned by INDU when it invited the Heritage Committee to conduct a companion study on remuneration models for artists and creative industries, and to provide INDU with a summary of its findings. The Heritage Committee did just that although in the form of a report to Parliament, as is its right, rather than through a direct submission to the INDU Committee. Continue reading “Copyright Review in Canada: INDU Committee Issues Clumsy and Tone-Deaf “We’re in Charge” Press Release”

The USMCA/CUSMA and Intellectual Property: Canada Wins

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The government of Justin Trudeau is now moving quickly with legislation to ratify the new trilateral North American trade agreement in the wake of the announcement last month that the Trump Administration would lift the steel and aluminum tariffs that were imposed on Canada (and Mexico) in June 2018 on ostensible “national security” grounds. Yes, aluminum and steel from Canada (and other US allies) apparently threaten US national security according to the justification for the tariffs put forward by the US Administration and imposed during the NAFTA 2.0 negotiations. Continue reading “The USMCA/CUSMA and Intellectual Property: Canada Wins”

Copyright Review in Canada: The Second Shoe Drops

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In the ongoing process of Canada’s copyright review, the “second shoe” has dropped and, as expected, the thud as it landed on the floor of the House of Commons was different from that of its companion report, Shifting Paradigms, the report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage tabled on May 15 of this year. This most recent report delivered by the INDU Committee (officially known as the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology) on June 3 contains thirty-six recommendations. As I noted in an earlier blog posting on Shifting Paradigms, it is not surprising that a number of the INDU Committee’s recommendations are not fully consistent with those of the Heritage Committee; indeed some of them are directly inconsistent. In some cases, the two committees come to similar conclusions but propose different remedies. In a couple of cases, the recommendations are identical. Now the government will have to take both reports into consideration as it decides how to move forward with any changes to legislation. It has 120 days to respond in writing to the report. All of this will be subsumed by a general election on October 21, which will decide whether the current Liberal government will be dealing with the recommendations or someone else. Continue reading “Copyright Review in Canada: The Second Shoe Drops”