Archive for the ‘Intellectual Property’ Category

The Copyright Consultation organized by the Government of Canada has come and gone. Last year’s Bill C-61 caused a bit of an uproar, which prompted the government’s new Industry Minister to take a different approach. The result was a public consultation that included a submission process for regular citizens and a series of roundtable talks with a variety of experts.

This has been done before. Back in 2001, a few short years after the DMCA came into effect in the U.S., the Canadian government held a similar consultation and expected the regular handful of lobby groups to weigh in. They were flabbergasted (or so I was told) when they received over 700 responses from average people (including a pretty terrible one from myself which will probably live forever on the Internet). And contrary to the lobbyists’ view, many of those hundreds of public submissions took a very anti-DMCA stance, which complicated matters a little bit.

It’s being said now that this recent consultation process gathered over 8100 submissions, more than ten times the amount from the consultation in 2001. Again, the public is generally anti-DMCA/Bill C-61, but other issues have been brought forward, too, such as abolishing Crown copyright and notice-and-notice versus notice-and-takedown. Overall, the process appears to have been much more constructive.

There are some fantastic submissions, and I especially enjoyed reading Michael Geist’s and Laura J. Murray’s. My own just snuck in on the last day and, after a few weeks of delay, it’s now finally up on the website. Even if my contribution isn’t as detailed as some of the others I’m happy that I managed to participate once more.

(Thanks for to Laura J. Murray and Sam Trosow for writing Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide, which I used while drafting my submission, and which will remain on my Quick Reference Shelf above my desk until the Copyright Act changes significantly).

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III Linking Policy

I was recently going through Innovative’s web site and, out of curiosity, clicked on the small “Legal Notices” link at the bottom of their front page. It instructed me to “PLEASE READ THESE ‘TERMS OF USE’ CAREFULLY BEFORE USING THIS WEB SITE”. It occurred to me that, if they truly wanted all visitors to read the legal notices before using the site, they should probably either feature the link more prominently on the front page or force a redirect to make sure everyone has a chance to read it beforehand. Most of us aren’t accustomed to reading EULAs for websites.

What got my attention was their “Links Policy”. Apparently, you are not allowed to link to III’s site unless you follow specific rules, including:

  • “(i) any link to the Web site must be a link clearly marked “Innovative Interfaces” OR “iii.com”;
  • “(iii) the link must “point” to the URL (www.iii.com) and not to other pages within the Web site”;
  • “(vi) Innovative Interfaces, Inc. reserves the right to revoke its consent to the link at any time and in its sole discretion.”

That means that if you want to point someone to a specific III product, such as Millenium or Encore, you are, according to III, not allowed to provide them with direct links. Evidently, Google doesn’t respect their policy either (of course, it might help if III provided a robots.txt file to help support their links policy).

It’s got a bit of a “Fight Club” ring to it: “The first rule of the Millenium web page is you don’t link to the Millenium web page. The second rule of the Millenium web pages is you don’t link to the Millenium web page.

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I’ll be going to hear Richard Stallman at the Treasury Board library next Tuesday. He’ll be talking about collaborative initiatives and (undoubtedly) their associated licenses (GFL, Creative Commons, etc). The primary focus will likely be wikis, as the Treasury Board is behind the Government of Canada’s GCPedia project.

Afterward, he’ll be speaking on the steps of Parliament Hill, at the following event:

Richard Stallman on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, 16:30 Tuesday 2 June 2009

Topic: The State’s Freedom, and the People’s Freedom, as Users of Software.

Date:  2 June 2009
Time: 16:30 – 18:00 pm on Parliament Hill (main steps)

Followed by informal discussion at the “Parliament Pub” Family Restaurant across the street, beginning at approximately 18:00.

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Today’s Speech from the Throne didn’t contain a direct reference to “copyright reform”. However, it did state that “our government will also attend to the other important priorities that it set out in the speech from the throne to open the 40th Parliament.” That previous speech did, in fact, include DMCA-like “copyright reform” as a priority item.

Howard Knopf noticed a piece in the Hill Times today, in which Conservative lobbyist Jeff Norquay claims that:

the copyright lobby will be in full force when the House returns and he expects a draft legislation to be tabled within months. The government introduced copyright legislation in the last Parliament, but it died on the Order Paper when the election was called.

So the Canadian DMCA will be tabled before Parliament once more. Hopefully the new crop of MPs are savvy enough to drop it…yet again.

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Tomorrow, a new Parliamentary session will open for Canada’s 40th government. The Speech from the Throne that will kick things off will be mostly about the state of the economy and what the government plans to do about it.

Among the billions of dollars of promised spending, I’ll be looking to see if this Speech from the Throne will repeat the previous promise to introduce DMCA-like legislation in Canada.

Hopefully the Harper government has got the message and will drop its planned changes to the Copyright Act. For one thing, the changing of the guard in Washington last week will likely lessen the foreign pressure to adopt such legislation.

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Michael Geist has posted a comparison between the fine print on the new whitehouse.gov website, the content of which is either in the public domain or under a Creative Commons license, and the Canadian Prime Minister’s web site.

For the White House’s new copyright policy:

Pursuant to federal law, government-produced materials appearing on this site are not copyright protected. The United States Government may receive and hold copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.

Except where otherwise noted, third-party content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Whitehouse.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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Today’s Speech from the Throne (PDF) included one line about copyright:

Our Government will proceed with legislation to modernize Canada’s copyright laws and ensure stronger protection for intellectual property.

One year ago, the same government included a similar line in their Speech from the Throne and the result was Bill-61 (which thankfully died on the order paper when this fall’s election was called). Despite the blowback they received this past spring and summer about that bill, I doubt the next incarnation will be much better.

Hopefully the new Industry Minister is a bit more clueful than the last and takes feedback from Canadians more seriously.

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