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  • – 2022-10-30 –

    CIPPIC has filed its Responding Memorandum of Fact and Law with the Federal Court of Appeal in Voltage v Doe. The appeal involves CIPPIC’s successful intervention in Voltage Pictures’ motion for default judgement in one of its numerous mass copyright infringement proceedings in the Federal Court of Canada. Voltage had sought judgement against 30 anonymous internet subscribers whom Voltage had alleged it had caught sharing one of its movies through BitTorrent and who had failed to file a Statement of Defense.

     

    CIPPIC’s argument comes down to three core positions:

     

  • – 2022-10-24 –

    CIPPIC is looking for a bold and dynamic technology lawyer to join our team as a Staff Counsel! Working closely with CIPPIC's staff and students, our new Staff Counsel will advance CIPPIC's mission of promoting the public interest in technology law and policy debates in Canada and beyond. This is a unique opportunity for an early career lawyer with an interest in law and technology or in law teaching to join the CIPPIC team and make a real difference on the development of law and policy in areas from copyright to privacy to telecommunications law.

    The Staff Counsel's work includes: 
    - representing CIPPIC and external clients before courts and administrative tribunals; 
    - participating in legislative, administrative, and multi-stakeholder processes relevant to CIPPIC's mandate; 
    - engaging with the public on these issues by speaking to the media and developing educational materials; and
    - working closely with CIPPIC's law student interns on all of the above and provide them with an outstanding clinical legal educational experience.

  • – 2022-10-24 –

    CIPPIC Director Vivek Krishnamurthy highlighted the risks that Bill C-11 poses to the right to free expression in Canada and beyond in his testimony before the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications on October 18, 2022. By extending Canada’s incredibly broad definition of “broadcasting” and “programs” to practically all audiovisual content online, subject only to the weak and confusing exceptions for “social media”  provided by s. 4, Bill C-11 provides an ideal template for authoritarian governments to emulate in regulating social media content for their own ends. Bill C-11’s provisions in this regard are especially problematic since they are tied to measures that seek to promote what the government defines as “Canadian content” on social media services. The danger of such a regime in the online sphere is clear to see as increasingly authoritarian countries like India seek to strip members of minority communities of their citizenship rights. Krishnamurthy’s Senate testimony is available to view on the Parliamentary website.

  • – 2022-10-12 –

    Professor Jane Bailey offered submissions on behalf of CIPPIC at the hearing of R v Downes, an important voyeurism case. This issue before the Court involved the interpretation of the "place" provisions of the Criminal Code's prohibitions against voyeurism. These provisions protect Canadians against surreptitious observation and recording when we have a reasonable expectation of privacy and are in “a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude...”.

     

  • – 2022-07-15 –

    The Supreme Court of Canada today released its long-awaited decision in Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada v. Entertainment Software Association, 2022 SCC 30.

    Canada amended its legislation in 2012 to, in part, implement Canada’s obligations under the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty. The Treaty included an obligation to ensure that authors’ rights include the right to benefit from “pull” technologies - business models that make content available to consumers at a time and place of their choosing (in contrast to “push” technologies like radio, where the broadcaster determines the time and place).  At issue was the impact of the "making available" provisions of the Copyright Act: do these entitle copyright owners to payment for making a work available to stream, and a second payment when the stream actually occurs? 

  • – 2022-06-06 –

    Voltage Holdings, LLC V Doe#1 et al, 2022 FC 827, saw the first time a plaintiff in a Canadian copyright filesharing action sought a motion for default judgment against dozens of defendants. Voltage is no stranger to copyright litigation. The American film production company has been the plaintiff in numerous copyright infringement lawsuits around the world. These cases concern unauthorized online sharing of Voltage’s films by unidentified defendants. Voltage often opts to sue internet subscribers who were suspected to have unauthorized copies of Voltage’s films shared through their home networks, even if the subscriber and the person who shared the unauthorized copies were not necessarily one and the same.

    In this case as in others, Voltage had taken no steps to identify the alleged direct infringers. Instead, the defendants were internet subscribers that Voltage found using their IP addresses, through information provided to them by ISPs via a Norwich order. These defendants had not responded to Voltage’s previous communications regarding the alleged infringements and had filed no defense. Voltage sought to obtain statutory damages for infringement through a default judgment.

  • – 2022-06-02 –

    CIPPIC is supporting a petition (filed by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the National Pensioners Federation) urging the Governor in Council to reverse the CRTC's approval of a controversial merger between Shaw and Rogers. The merger would eliminate a major competitor while substantially increasing Rogers' market power in a communications ecosystem that is already deeply concentrated.

    CIPPIC's supporting submission particularly highlighted the need to consider the inter-connected nature of communications competition. A conglomerated Rogers will not only be able to wield significant national market power in cable distribution, but also in home Internet and wireless. The loss of Shaw as a mobile competitor will be especially difficult to replace and will remove a key impediment on Rogers' market power.

    The merger will harm customers in mobile, home Internet and cable and will undermine service innovation. The CRTC's decision to approve the broadcasting elements of the merger should be reversed.

    Image source: Mike Lawrence, "Monopoly Key", Flickr, November 19, 2017, CC-BY 2.0

  • – 2022-05-30 –

    As the last few remaining NHL teams battle their way towards the Stanley Cup finals, the Federal Court has ordered Canadian ISPs to begin blocking NHL game streams accused of violating copyright Friday. While Canadian courts have previously recognized the availability of static website blocking (despite CIPPIC's objection), this order is the first of its kind in Canada, as we argued in our intervention. It implements a sophisticated system that relies on a private company to identify allegedly unauthorized streams using automated assessment tools and report these to Canadian ISPs for real-time blocking, and represents the next step and the never-ending expansion of remedies demanded by copyright holders in Canada.

    The order adopts a number of safeguards. It will only operate during the remainder of the playoffs, where there are fewer games to monitor and less opportunities for over-blocking. The Court also ordered an independent expert to audit the website blocking initiative. The independent audit will provide critical evidence that will be critical when courts are later asked to extend this remedy. Specifically, if Rogers, Bell, and the other media companies who applied for this order wish to extend its application beyond the 2022 playoff season, the independent audit will need to establish that collateral blocking of legitimate content was minimal and that the blocking was effective in actually increasing legitimate subscriptions rather than simply driving customers to other forms of infringement or adoption of VPN services.

    Image source: Stanislav Lvovsky, "Censored", Flickr, September 28, 2015, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

  • – 2022-05-02 –

    CIPPIC, working with the eQuality Project, has filed a motion in the Supreme Court of Canada to intervene in the appeal of R. v. Downes, 2022 BCCA 8, a British Columbia Court of Appeal decision, where a coach was charged under the voyeurism provisions of the Criminal Code for surreptitiously taking photographs of pre-teens in their underwear in a sports facility's change room. The majority of the Court Appeal overturned the conviction, ruling that the photographs were not taken in "places in which a person could reasonably be expected to be nude".

    CIPPIC will be arguing that the voyeurism provisions ought to be interpreted by framing them within the broader context of the privacy and equality rights of voyeurism targets, including women, children, and members of other equality-seeking communities.

  • – 2021-09-28 –

    CIPPIC has submitted feedback to the Department of Canadian Heritage concerning the proposed legislation to address “harmful content” online. The public consultation was launched right before the federal election was called with a deadline to submit right after the end of the election, causing civil society and academic experts to request a delay  to the submission deadline. No deferral was ultimately granted.

    In its submission, CIPPIC calls on the Department of Canadian Heritage to reconsider its approach to addressing activity that occurs online, given that the current approach jeopardizes claims that Canada is a global leader of human rights. The submission focuses on problems relating to the law’s scope of application, its demand that platforms block unlawful content within 24 hours of being flagged, as well as alarming requirements for online service providers to proactively monitor and filter content as well as report information on users to law enforcement.