News - All

  • – 2016-07-28 –

    Voltage Pictures and its litigation partners - the applicants in a file-sharing "reverse class action" - have been granted a Norwich Order in respect of a single John Doe. The Court limited its Order to the name and address of the Rogers subscriber (the Applicants had sought additional information such as email address) and required payment to Rogers at its hourly fee for providing the subscriber data (the Applicants had argued that the new notice and notice provisions of the Copyright Act meant that Rogers had to provide this information for free). CIPPIC intervened in the motion on the narrow issue of the privacy protections and limits that might be required of any such order.

    It is possible that Voltage and its partners might appeal the decision on the issue of paying ISP costs. However, with the Order in hand, Voltage and its litigation partners are in place to begin discovery against the Doe with the goal of having the Doe appointed as the representative defedant and moving towards certification of its controversial reverse class proceeding.

    UPDATE: On Friday, August 5, 2016, Voltage filed a Notice of Appeal, FCA File No A-278-16, with the Federal Court of Appeal, challenging the Federal Court's conclusion that it cannot pass the cost of enforcing its rights on to Rogers' customers. Voltage did not seek a stay of the Proposed Class Action Proceeding and, as a result, it appears as though the class proceeding and the appeal will proceed in parallel.

    • Decision: Granting Voltage's request for third party disclosure Voltage Pictures LLC v Doe, 2016 FC 881
    • Decision: Granting CIPPIC limited right to Intervene, 2016 FC 681
    • CIPPIC's Intervention Argument
    • CIPPIC's Letter to the Court prior to its Intervention, June 2, 2016
    • CIPPIC's Factum in its Motion for Leave to Intervene, June 7, 2016
    • CIPPIC's Reply in its Motion for Leave to Intervene, June 15, 2016
  • – 2016-07-11 –

    CIPPIC and Carleton University’s Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre have proposed the creation of a Traditional Knowledge open licensing scheme to help overcome some of the challenges associated with granting and obtaining permission for the use and sharing of traditional knowledge.  The scheme envisions a series of open licenses - similar to Creative Commons licenses -  responsive to the needs of granting communities that help overcome some of the obstacles parties routinely encounter in granting and obtaining permission for the use and sharing of traditional knowledge.

  • – 2016-06-03 –

    Canada Post has agreed to discontinue it's copyright infringement lawsuit against Geolytica.  The case involved a claim that Geloytica's use of a crowd-sourced database of postal codes mapped to geographic addresses infringed intellectual property rights Canada Post alleged that it enjoyed in those postal codes.

    While the terms of settlement are confidential, the parties have prepared an agreed statement:

    Canada Post commenced court proceedings in 2012 against Geolytica Inc. for copyright infringement in relation to Geolytica Inc.'s Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Dataset and related services offered on its website at geocoder.ca. The parties have now settled their dispute and Canada Post will discontinue the court proceedings. The postal codes returned by various geocoder interface APIs and downloadable on geocoder.ca, are estimated via a crowdsourcing process. They are not licensed by geocoder.ca from Canada Post, the entity responsible for assigning postal codes to street addresses. Geolytica continues to offer its products and services, using the postal code data it has collected via a crowdsourcing process which it created.

    While undoubtedly a good outcome for Geolytica, the settlement leaves unaddressed the legal claims advanced by Canada Post.

  • – 2016-03-23 –

    Cell-site simulators, colloquially referred to as IMSI Catchers or by brand names such as "Stingrays" or "King Fisher" are surveillance tools used by state agencies to identify or track mobile devices (and, of course, the individuals associated with such devices). Compared to other surveillance devices, IMSI Catchers are inherently invasive. They are designed to impersonate cell towers, in both functionality and appearance. As a result, IMSI Catcher surveillance is broad and indiscriminate -each time an IMSI Catcher is deployed against a specific target, it interferes with all devices in range. Each time an IMSI Catcher is used against one specific target, it can interfere with the privacy of thousands, collecting the digital identifiers (IMSI, IMEI) of all mobile devices within range. With these identifiers, otherwise anonymous individuals can be geo-located or tracked. In addition to the privacy interference, IMSI Catchers interfere with the functionality of mobile devices in range, preventing them from sending or receiving phone calls, text messages or data, including emergency 911 calls.

    The secrecy surrounding the use of these devices has been significant, with law enforcement agencies in Canada generally refusing to acknowledge, or even deny, whether they have ever made use of such a device. The Vancouver Police (VPD), for example, have refused to respond to a freedom of information demand from the Pivot Legal Society for any records relating to its use of these devices. CIPPIC and Christopher Parsons represented an intervener in the appeal of that refusal, OpenMedia. VPD defends its decision on the basis that acknowledging any IMSI Catcher would undermine their utility as surveillance tools. However, as we pointed out in the intervention, a lot of information is already in the public record regarding the capabilities of these devices and their use by state agencies. In the United States, such information has been public for some time, yet they continue to be a useful tool for law enforcement. Finally, there is a compelling public interest in publicizing use these devices, to facilitate public debate regarding the appropriate parameters of their use. UPDATE: On May 25, 2016, after reviewing the record of the appeal, VPD issued a response, indicating that they do not own an IMSI Catcher and have no records relating to the use of such devices. However, ongoing questions remain regarding whether VPD has used these devices in past investigations as such use could have occurred through the aegis of the RCMP, which is suspected to operate a number of these devices.

  • – 2016-03-04 –

    CIPPIC is pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Google Policy Fellow this summer. The Google Policy Fellow will join our Summer Internship Program and work closely with CIPPIC staff on a range of dynamic, cutting edge law & technology issues as we seek to further our mandate. This mandate regularly takes us before various policy- and law-making forums, including parliamentary committees, regulatory bodies, all levels of court and various international for as we seek to advocate in the public interest on issues arising at the intersection of law and technology. It additionally includes a public education and engagement component, as we seek to ensure the public is aware of issues that may effect their daily digital lives. Substantively, CIPPIC advocacy covers a diverse range of digital rights/policy issues, including copyright, privacy/electronic surveillance, telecommunications regulation/net neutrality, online consumer protection, online speech, access to knowledge and more general Internet governance concerns.

    We involve our interns and policy fellows in all elements of our work. In addition, the policy fellow will enjoy our Summer Speaker Series, which brings leading experts in Canadian law & technology fields in to discuss various pressing issues with our students in a closed environment. See our past annual bulletin for a list of past speakers, as well as a description of some of our recent work. Applications are due Friday, March 25, 2016. To apply, visit Google's Policy Fellowship interface and fill out the application form. The fellowship will run for 10 weeks this summer, and is open to any law students or law graduate students.

  • – 2016-02-12 –

    CIPPIC and the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy at McGill University have together applied for amicus curae status in Eli Lilly v. Government of Canada UNCT/14/2, a NAFTA trade dispute before an arbitration tribunal.

    At issue is whether Canada's utility standard under patent law meets Canada's obligations under North American Free Trade Agreement.  The Complainant, the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, claims that it does not.  When a Federal Court judge invalidated one of its patent registration for failing Canada's legal test for "utility" - an essential requirement of any valid patent - Eli Lilly claimed that it was entitled to a remedy under NAFTA's investor protection provisions.

    Most trade agreements these days include these investor protection provisions.  This case marks the expansion of the use of these provisions from cases that look more like state expropriation to the general contours of substantive intellectual property law.  The Tribunal is being asked to challenge the court's supervisory role over patentability in the Canadian patent system and to take an expansive view of the content of NAFTA's patent provisions.

  • – 2016-01-19 –

    All law students, including graduate, are encouraged to apply to join us as part of our Summer Internship Program. The program offers students a unique opportunity to work with CIPPIC lawyers on cutting edge issues in law & technology. Remuneration is in the form of a C$6000 stipend.

    APPLICATION DEADLINE: February 22nd, 2016, 5pm EST

    See our poster for more information on applying

  • – 2015-12-10 –

    TekSavvy Solutions Inc., the ISP targeted by Voltage PIctures in its motion for the identities of roughly 2000 subscribers whom Voltage alleges have infringed copyright in Voltage films, has succeeded in its appeal of its cost award in that motion.  In an earlier motion, TekSavvy had been awarded $21,577.50 as its "reasonable legal costs, administrative costs, and disbursements".  On appeal, that figure was raised by an additional $11,822.50. 

    As a result of this decision, and assuming the parties seek no further appeal, after paying these costs to TekSavvy (assuming it chooses to do so), Voltage will be in a position to provide a draft of proposed communications to targeted Subscribers and request the Court to convene a case conference with the Federal Court Case Management Review judge to approve the contents of the letter. 

  • – 2015-11-27 –

    In the wake of the Paris attacks, there have been numerous calls by security agencies to once again expand the nature and scope of surveillance and other security framework under which they operate. Many of these calls were neatly summarized in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail published November 25, 2015. A number of civil society organizations wrote in response today, refuting the one-sided expansion of state powers as an enduring solution to the world's security problems, the full response and list of signatories is replicated below. Also today, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group penned a well-argued response to attempts by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, who has renewed calls for legislation granting police unsupervised and unrestrained access to online identifiers. The post recalls how Canadians have soundly rejected such calls in the past when it was presented as a solution to, in succession: cybercrime, child pornography and cyber-bullying. This latest iteration is equally as invasive and equally as unnecessary as its predecessors. Online identifiers are the essence to digital privacy and anonymity. Granting wholesale access to them is neither necessary to effective law enforcement or counter-terrorism, nor is it a proportional incursion on our digital privacy. If police need specific access to identifying information, it should only be obtained through the use of a dedicated production order similar to those already in the Criminal Code for other forms of metadata such as transmission and tracking information.

    Overall, as both civil society initiatives note, we are seeing a familiar list of demands for new powers from law enforcement following the Paris attacks. However, it is notable that none of these are responses to whatever shortcomings (if any) in surveillance powers may have contributed to the Paris attacks. The Globe and Mail letter is reproduced after the bump and can also be read here.

  • – 2015-11-26 –
    In a 7-2 decision, the Court upheld the Copyright Board's decision to characterize broadcast-incidental copies as "reproductions" for the purposes of the Copyright Act, but overturned the Board's method of calculating fees payable for such activities.  The majority found no reason to depart from long-standing caselaw on the character of ephemeral copies as reproductions for the purposes of the Act, and concluded that the separation of synchronization and broadcast‑incidental licences does not offend technological neutrality or impose new layers of protection or fees based solely on technological change.  However, the majority concluded that the Board failed to consider the principles of technological neutrality and balance in valuing the ephemeral licence.  The Court concluded that balance between user and right‑holder interests requires that the Board assess the respective contributions of the user and the copyright‑protected works to the value enjoyed by the user.