News

  • - 2019-12-10 -

    CIPPIC and vLex deploy expert knowledge and artificial intelligence to improve the ability of Canadian citizens to make a difference.

    CIPPIC and international legal technology firm vLex are partnering in a Law Foundation of Ontario funded project to seek to reduce the barriers to effective public participation in communications policy-making by developing a free and fully public communications law and policy research platform.

    This initiative aims to increase access and contextual understanding of regulatory, policy and legal submissions and documentation, allowing Canadian citizens to become more informed and more influential in a policy-making process that is often dominated by multi-billion dollar telecom and broadcasting giants.

    Built on vLex’s AI-powered technology, Iceberg, CIPPIC and vLex will train and deliver the tools that analyze the thousands of documents, comprising millions of pages, generated across hundreds of regulatory, legislative, judicial and policy proceedings. All with the goal of arming the public with the capability to participate effectively and at a level previously available only to the largest commercial entities.

  • - 2019-12-06 -

    The appeal of Cooperstock v United Airlines, Inc., scheduled to be heard Tuesday, December 10, has been discontinued as the parties have reached a settlement.

    While undoubtedly a positive development for the parties - who bear the cost and stress of the litigation - the development leaves intact the troubling lower court decision in United Airlines, Inc. v. Cooperstock, 2017 FC 616 (CanLII).  Mr. Cooperstock operated Untied.com, a consumer criticism site targeting the plaintiff, United Airlines.  United, after years of tolerating Mr. Cooperstock's stings, in 2012 concluded that it could take no more and filed a statement of claim alleging copyright infringement and a number of violations of its rights under the Trademarks Act.  The lower court agreed sided with United in a controversial opinion. Mr. Cooperstock appealed.

  • - 2019-11-13 -

    Justice Boswell of the Federal Court of Canada has denied Voltage’s motion to certify a “reverse” class proceeding for copyright infringement against a class of unidentified internet subscribers and alleged BitTorrent users.

    CIPPIC intervened in the motion, arguing among other things that Voltage’s pleadings did not disclose a reasonable cause of action and that a class proceeding was not preferable given that it would amount to individual factual inquiries specific to each class member.  The Court agreed on both counts.  In rejecting the motion, Justice Boswell concluded:

    [77]  I agree with CIPPIC’s submissions that Voltage’s pleadings do not disclose a reasonable cause of action with respect to primary infringement.  While Voltage alleges that its forensic software identified a direct infringement in [sic] Voltage’s films, Voltage has failed to identify a Direct Infringer in its amended notice of application. ... 

    [...]

    [160]  A class proceeding is not a preferable procedure for the just and efficient resolution of any common issues which may exist.  The proposed proceeding would require multiple individual fact-findings for each class member on almost every issue. ...

  • - 2019-10-18 -

    CIPPIC has filed its intervener factum in the Supreme Court in Uber v. Heller, SCC No, 38534, an important case addressing when courts should refuse to enforce contractual restrictions on fair access to justice. CIPPIC’s argument focuses on the applicability of the equitable doctrine of unconscionability to standard form contracts that include contractual restrictions that deny access to justice. CIPPIC proposes a two-step test to aid courts in determining whether such contractual restrictions would result in the unconscionable denial of access to justice.

    Professor Marina Pavlović and Cynthia Khoo (LLM Candidate and CIPPIC researcher) are acting for CIPPIC in this intervention.  Newly minted lawyer and former CIPPIC Articling Student Johann Kwan also signed on CIPPIC's behalf.

    The case is scheduled to be heard November 6, 2019.

  • - 2019-08-06 -

    The Federal Court of Canada has set Rogers' "reasonable costs" of compliance with a Norwich Order in Voltage's reverse class proceeding.  The decision caps a long-running dispute over the proportion of ISP costs copyright claimants must pay ISPs to comply with Norwich orders obliging ISPs to hand over subscriber information to copyright claimants alleging infringement.  Following a 2018 Supreme Court of Canada decision clarifying the range of costs ISPs may ask claimants to pay for subscriber data, Rogers had asked for costs of $100 per subscriber.  Voltage had asked for costs to be set at close to a third of that figure.  The Court split the difference, undertaking a detailed calculation based upon the time and employee costs involved to arrive at the figure of $67.23, plus HST, for the IP address lookup of the single subscriber involved.

  • - 2019-03-28 -

    On Friday, March 29, CIPPIC will appear as an intervener before the Supreme Court of Canada in the hearing of Keatley Surveying Ltd. v. Teranet Inc., SCC Case No. 37863.  The case addresses the scope and reach of “Crown copyright” and will impact many mass digitization projects and open government initiatives.

    This case stems from a class action involving the management of the Province of Ontario’s electronic land registry system. The public is currently able to obtain copies of land surveys and other documents through this system for a fee, but no money is distributed to the surveyors who prepared the documents in the first place. The case is being brought forward by Keatley Surveying Ltd. on behalf of approximately 350 land surveyors whose plans were scanned and made available online.

    CIPPIC's intervention argues that the government cannot take away authors’ rights by republishing other peoples’ work. CIPPIC says that Crown copyright “is not a way for the government to expropriate, in a formal or colloquial sense, other people’s copyrights,” and “invites a more common-sense approach” to interpreting Crown copyright.

    Professor Jeremy de Beer and CIPPIC Director David Fewer are acting for CIPPIC.

  • - 2019-02-14 -

    The Supreme Court of Canada today its decision in R v Jarvis, voyeurism case where a high school teacher used a pen cam to surreptitiously record multiple videos focused mainly of the chest and cleavage area of several female students and one female colleague.

    The majority of the Ontario Court of Appeal acquitted the defendant2017 ONCA 778, finding that while the photos were taken for a sexual purpose, the young women he targeted did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the school setting where the photos were taken, an essential element of the voyeurism offense.

  • - 2019-02-12 -

    The Supreme Court of Canada is set to release its decision on a much anticipated case addressing privacy, equality and sexual violence this Thursday, February 14, 2019.

    On the day of its release, the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law will host a discussion on the decision at 4:00 pm in Room 570, Fauteux Hall, 57 Louis-Pasteur Private. All are welcome to attend.

    On April 20, 2018 the Supreme Court heard R v Jarvis, SCC file number 37833 a voyeurism case where a high school teacher used a pen cam to surreptitiously record multiple videos focused mainly of the chest and cleavage area of several female students and one female colleague. Jarvis was acquitted at trial. The Court of Appeal upheld that acquittal in R v Jarvis, 2017 ONCA 778, finding that while the photos were taken for a sexual purpose, the young women he targeted did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the school setting where the photos were taken, an essential element of the voyeurism offence.

    The central question before the Supreme Court was when do people have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Is it only when they are shielded from public view? When they are dressed modestly? Or can privacy be understood in a more nuanced way?

  • - 2019-02-12 -

    CIPPIC has joined Mozilla, Access, Reporters Without Borders, and several other organizations in an open letter calling on Facebook to live up to its transparency promises. The letter calls out Facebook for blocking transparency tools employed by ProPublica, demanding that the platform provide API access to its promised political transparency tools.  As is now widely acknwoledged, Facebook and its various communications platforms have been leveraged by a wide range of political actors-both foreign and domestic-in their efforts to disrupt democratic processes in a number of jurisdictions around the world. Disinformation campaigns have become an instrumental force, evident in the UK's 'Vote Leave' referendum, the 2016 US Presidential elections, and the 2018 Brazilian elections which propelled far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency.

    Against this backdrop, Facebook has undertaken various efforts to address these challenges. This has included a third-party academic body empowered to provide select academic researchers with access to elements of its content under controlled conditions. Among these is a novel 'open advertisement' mechanism designed to let individuals see all advertisements sent by a single entity through its platform. This tool is designed in part to address so-called 'dark advertising', where political actors send highly individualized and micro-targeted messages to different people based on their data-intensive profiling. Currently, only intended recipients see any given advertisement, allowing political actors to send conflicting or even discriminatory messaging with relative impunity. The problem is that Facebook has refused to provide API access to its open advertising platform, making it functionally difficult if not impossible to conduct the type of meaningful analysis necessary to meet the challenges posed by its services to democratic processes. Not only has Facebook refused to provide API access, but it has actively blocked existing tools used by ProPublica to supplement the shortcomings of its own transparency mechanisms. Meanwhile, a recent CBC study, which leveraged Twitter's API-enabled political messaging transparency tool, analyzed over 9 million tweets to demonstrate significant foreign influence in Canadian discussions surrounding pipelines and immigration. With upcoming federal elections in 2019, Canada cannot afford to be complacent about this issue.

    UPDATE: Facebook has responded by committing to develop and roll out an open API for its political advertising archive. This positive step towards transparency has been met with cautious optimism.

    Image Source: Yomare, "Hand Puppet Snowman", May 22, 2015, Pixabay, Pixabay License

  • - 2019-01-30 -

    CIPPIC Summer Internship Program offers outstanding law students an unequaled opportunity to work on cutting-edge research and advocacy issues relating to law and technology.

    CIPPIC advocacy involves submission of briefs to government and other policy‐makers, intervention in precedent‐setting cases before judicial and quasi‐judicial tribunals, provision of public legal education resources, publication of reports, participation in multi‐stakeholder policy-making forums, provision of expert testimony before parliamentary committees, and advising under‐represented organizations and individuals on relevant public interest issues.

    Working closely with CIPPIC lawyers, interns learn how to be effective researchers, policy analysts, and advocates while contributing to public interest policy and law reform in such areas as copyright law, privacy, consumer protection, telecommunications regulation, net neutrality, free speech and civil liberties on the Internet. Interns may additionally have opportunities to attend conferences and workshops such as the CIPPIC summer speaker series and to participate in other aspects of the Centre for Law, Society, & Technology.

    UPDATE: The application deadline has been extended, the deadline for applications is now Monday, March 4, 2019