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Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault recently suggested that the government’s support for news media should be replaced by copyright rules that would open the door to payments from internet companies such as Google and Facebook. Guilbeault indicated that a legislative package was being prepared for the fall that would include a press publishers’ right is that is commonly referred to as an internet link tax. Julia Reda is a former Member of the European Parliament who for several years was the most active and visible politician in Europe when it came to copyright reform. That multi-year debate ultimately led to…
Last week, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault called into question his own government’s policies on supporting news media, suggesting that those programs should be replaced by copyright rules that would open the door to payments from internet companies such as Google and Facebook. Mr. Guilbeault indicated that a legislative package was being prepared for the fall that would include new powers for Canada’s communications regulator and what are commonly referred to as Netflix taxes and internet linking taxes. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes the government’s support for new internet taxes should not come as a surprise. There were strong…
The state of Canadian privacy law has been ongoing source of concern with many experts concluding that the law is outdated and no longer fit for purpose. This is particularly true when contrasted with rules in the European Union that feature tough penalties and new privacy rights. It would appear that the province of Quebec has concluded that the waiting has gone on long enough. The provincial government recently introduced Bill 64, which if adopted would overhaul provincial privacy laws and provide a potential model for both the federal government and the other provinces. Eloïse Gratton is a partner…
The world has been focused for the past several weeks on racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement, with millions around the world taking to the streets to speak out against inequality and racism. Technology and concerns about racism and bias have been part of the discussion, with some of the world’s leading technology companies changing longstanding policies and practices. IBM has put an end all research, development and production of facial recognition technologies, while both Amazon and Microsoft said they would no longer sell the technology to local police departments. Mutale Nkonde is an artificial intelligence policy analyst…
The Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling on Canada’s anti-spam law puts to rest persistent claims that the law is unconstitutional. As discussed at length in my earlier post, the court firmly rejected the constitutional arguments in finding that the law addresses a real problem and has proven beneficial. The impact of the decision extends beyond just affirming that CASL is (subject to a potential appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada) here to stay. It also provides important guidance on how to interpret the law with analysis of the business-to-business exception, implied consent, and what constitutes a valid unsubscribe…
Canada’s anti-spam law has been the target of intense criticism since its introduction in 2009 as the Electronic Commerce Protection Act. Even after the law passed in 2010, there was no shortage of effort to delay the regulations needed to put it into effect. Once it finally took effect in 2014, the criticism continued with a steady stream of fanciful suggestions that it would render promotions of neighbourhood lemonade stands illegal and warnings that the law would invariably be challenged in the courts and ruled unconstitutional. In 2017, just as critics were arguing for reforms to the law at the…
The U.S. approach to Internet platform liability has been characterized as the single most important legal protection for free speech on the Internet. Over the past two decades, every major Internet service has turned to the rules to ensure that liability for third party content posted on their sites rests with the poster, not the site or service. Those rules have proven increasingly controversial, however, with mounting calls for the companies to take on greater responsibility for content posted on their sites. The issue captured international attention last month when U.S. President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order that heightens…
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has ruled that a news broadcast that jokingly criticized Canadian content violates the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and the Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada’s (RTDNA) Code of Journalistic Ethics. The complaint arose from a December 2019 broadcast on Toronto radio station CFRB. David McKee used his lead-in to a report on a possible Netflix tax to state “the libraries of streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ could soon have more of a Canadian flavour that nobody watches or wants if the federal government gets its way.” That comment was too much for one…
Last month, Facebook revealed the names of the first 20 members of the Facebook Oversight Board, a body charged with conducting independent reviews of content removals. The group includes many well-known experts in the fields of human rights, journalism, law, and social media. The announcement received at best a mixed greeting – some welcomed the experiment in content moderation, while others argued that the board “will have no influence over anything that really matters in the world.” Professor Nicolas Suzor of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia was named as one of the first 20 members. The author
U.S. President Donald Trump yesterday signed an executive order targeting Internet platforms after Twitter fact-checked one of his tweets on mail-in voting (the company followed up with a warning on another tweet earlier today involving glorifying violence). The order cannot simply reverse current U.S. law, but it encourages U.S. regulators to rethink how the Internet safe harbour provisions that limit liability for Internet platforms for third party content are implemented. While the U.S. is obviously free to assess its statutory approach, one issue that received little attention is that the U.S. has effectively locked itself into the safe harbour…
Last week, I had the enormous honour to deliver the first IAPP Ian Kerr Memorial Lecture. The IAPP and the broader privacy community has been incredibly supportive in the months since Ian’s passing, recognizing his exceptional contributions to the field and stepping up to help support the Ian R. Kerr Memorial Fund at the University of Ottawa. The Ian Kerr Memorial Lecture, which will be an annual lecture held by the IAPP, provided an opportunity to rediscover Ian’s scholarship and think about how he would been an essential voice during the current global pandemic. The lecture – along…
Dubbed by some as the worst film ever made, The Room has become a cult-like film classic. Written, directed, produced and starring Tommy Wiseau, the movie was the subject of the 2017 film The Disaster Artist and a documentary titled Room Full of Spoons by Canadian documentary filmmakers who wanted to tell the story of the film and its popularity. The documentary has been the subject of years of litigation with Wiseau at one point obtaining an injunction to stop its release. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently released an important decision in the case with significant implications for…
The state of Internet access in Canada has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years as consumers and businesses alike assess whether Canada has kept pace with the need for universal access to fast, affordable broadband. What is now beyond debate is that there are still hundreds of thousands of Canadians without access to broadband services from local providers and that for those that have access, actual speeds may be lower than advertised and below the targets set by the CRTC, Canada’s broadcast and telecommunications regulator. CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, manages the dot-ca domain and…
Canadian media organizations face difficult challenges in an age of virtually unlimited Internet competition, a dramatic shift toward digital advertising, and an unprecedented global economic and health crisis. That has led media groups to urge the federal government to “take on” Google and Facebook by requiring them to fund local media. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has thus far declined to do so. That may spark criticism in some quarters but claims that government-mandated payments from Internet companies will solve the sector’s ills are unconvincing. My Financial Post op-ed notes that everyone agrees the media sector is more competitive than ever.…
The Federal Court of Appeal delivered its long-awaited copyright ruling in the York University v. Access Copyright case last month. This latest decision effectively confirms that educational institutions can opt-out of the Access Copyright licence since it is not mandatory and that any claims of infringement will be left to copyright owners to address, not Access Copyright. The decision is a big win for York University and the education community though they were not left completely happy with the outcome given the court’s fair dealing analysis. The decision also represents a major validation for University of Toronto law professor Ariel Katz, whose…
In the months before the coronavirus outbreak, numerous governments around the world enthusiastically jumped on the “regulate tech” train. Digital tax proposals, content regulation requirements, national digital spending mandates, as well as new privacy and data governance rules were viewed by many as essential to respond to the increasing power and influence of digital giants such as Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes the pandemic has not only sparked a massive shift in economic and health policy priorities, but it is also likely to reorient our views of the tech sector. Companies that only months…