• – 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.
  • – 2015-11-20 –

    CIPPIC, OpenMedia, and over 40 other civil society groups and privacy experts wrote to the government today calling for a public consultation on the legacy of Bill C-51, the highly controversial and one-sided overhaul of Canada's security and investigative framework adopted by the previous government late last year. The letter notes with enthusiasm the government's commitment to address some of the pressing problems raised by Bill C-51, but urges that these fixes come only after public engagement on the issue has occurred. Bill C-51 was developed in an atmosphere and process that was often openly hostile to civil society input, and this is reflected in almost every facet of its multi-pronged expansion of security powers. It detrimentally impacted on several elements of Canadian society while exacerbating long-standing problems relating to Canada's flight-restriction mechanisms, information-sharing, intelligence oversight and due process. It is no surprise that over 300,000 Canadians have spoken out against Bill C-51, and in just the past week more than 10,000 have called on the government to publicly consult on how to address its legacy.

    In spite of this controversy, the letter points out, neither this government nor the previous has ever made the case for any of Bill C-51's elements, and that doing so must be the first step to a reasoned debate around its various elements. Once this case has been made, in the form of a discussion paper, the letter calls for an online public consultation as well as an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the measures and justifications underlying the changes to Canada's security framework that the government wishes to adopt or retain. In particular, there is concern that the adoption of parliamentary oversight for intelligence agencies - a mechanism that has proven useful, but not independently sufficient in many foreign jurisdictions including the United States and the United Kingdom - will be presented as a panacea to the excesses of Canada's security apparatus. The letter, as well as a joint media release that accompanied its delivery, can be read after the bump, and our Bill C-51 primer (with OpenMedia and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression) can be read here (PDF).

  • – 2015-11-18 –

    CIPPIC testified today before a special committee established by the BC Legislative Assembly in order to review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), the data protection statute regulating the British Columbia government's use of personal information. CIPPIC was specifically asked to provide expert testimony on recent trade commitments undertaken by the federal government in its adherence to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and, specifically, on potential implications of these commitments for cross-border privacy protections in FIPPA. Recent trade commitments adopted in the TPP could be used to challenge protections in BC FIPPA and specifically section 30.1, which was enacted to safeguard some BC citizen data against cross-border data export that would expose this data to expansive foreign state surveillance powers. While TPP measures could be used to challenge restrictions on foreign data storage implemented further to section 30.1, these restrictions could be justified if shown to be necessary to achieve a clearly articulated legitimate objective such as privacy protection.

    CIPPIC's testimony highlighted the problems that arise where Canadian data crosses borders and is directly exposed to the limitless powers of foreign intelligence signals agencies. While Canada's own Communications Security Establishment (CSE) enjoys comparably unchecked powers that are insufficiently restrained in their impact on Canadian's privacy, Canadians enjoy some minimal protections when their own protections are caught in the web of its inherently foreign facing surveillance activities. Canadians enjoy no such protections when their data is exposed to other nations' foreign intelligence agencies, such as the US National Security Agency, which reportedly collects 100 million independent data points from US-based computer service providers in an average day. Data retained by the NSA includes highly sensitive information on individuals known not to be targets of any investigation. The ability to restrict some Canadian data from flowing abroad, while these agencies have expansive capabilities that could be used to harvest data from Canadian-based servers as well, preventing some types of Canadian data from flowing to the United States can render its acquisition by foreign agencies more difficult.

  • – 2015-07-16 –

    Canada's federal, provincial and territorial Information and Privacy Commissioners are calling for nominations for the Grace-Pépin Access to Information Award, which will honour and recognize the efforts of individuals or groups who have demonstrated an exceptional contribution to Access to Information rights in Canada. Nominees are judged based on the significance, implementation and impact of their work on the Canadian Access to Information right. The award could not be more timely, as Canada's aging Access to Information regime (which has not been substantially reformed since its introduction over 30 years ago) is in dire need of reform to bring it into the digital age. 

    The award also honours and commemorates its eponymous Commissioners, John Grace, former Information Commissioner of Canada, and Marcel Pépin, president and founder of the Commission d'accèss à l'information du Québec. It is typically presented during Right to Know week, celebrated each year in September. Nominations are due August 31, 2015​. More details on the nomination process and requirements are available here (FR). To submit a nominee, fill out this form here (FR).

  • – 2015-06-05 –

    Monday, June 15, at 6pm CIPPIC, Amnesty International Canada & the Ottawa Public Library will host a free public screening of CitizenFour. The documentary explores how former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden approached reporters Laura Poitras (who also directed the Academy Award winning documentary), Glenn Greenwald and others with a treasure trove of classified documents exposing the shear unprecedented scope and magnitude of the NSA's monitoring of the world's digital activities. This, in turn, launched an international debate about the protection of privacy in the digital age and the appropriate role of our foreign intelligence agencies.

    Today marks the two year anniversary of the day the Guardian first reported on an NSA program that mandated Verizon and other US-based telecommunications companies to hand over metadata on all phone calls (domestic and foreign) on a regular basis in order to populate a metadata base that it could data-mine at will as part of its foreign intelligence program. The story sent ripples around the globe, and last week the US congress greatly restricted it by limiting the NSA's surveillance powers for the first time in decades. But the expansive metadata program, it turned out, was just the tip of the iceberg as a string of revelations from Snowden's files followed, each more staggering than its predecessor and confirming privacy advocate's worst predictions (CJFE hosts a searchable archive of these). We have also learned much about Canada's complicity (by its participation in the Five Eyes intelligence partnership with the US, UK, Australia & New Zealand) in creating this global web of surveillance. The film is a must-see for any privacy advocate, as well as for anyone who wants to learn about Snowden's experience or how our communications networks are monitored. Join us June 15! More details after the jump or download the event flyer

  • – 2015-05-20 –

    The Federal Court of Appeal issued its ruling in Bell Canada v. Amtelecom, 2015 FCA 126, which challenged the implementation of the CRTC's wireless consumer protection code. The Code was put in place by the CRTC out of recognition that Canadian customers of mobile services were not adequately protected by the existing regime. It sought to improve the state of affairs by granting customers comprehensive rights, overseen by the CCTS, including an important provision that limited service providers from locking Canadians out of the wireless market for three years at a time and thereby hindering competition. The protections in the Code were to apply to all customers two years from the day the Code was issued, including to those customers who were still locked in to pre-existing three year contracts. However, a number of providers appealed the decision, arguing that the CRTC lacked the power to protect customers until their existing contractual terms expired. Specifically, these Appellants argued that by restricting the length of wireless contracts to two years and limiting the penalties a wireless provider could impose onto customers for switching providers early, the CRTC impermissibly interfered with vested rights retrospectively by preventing them from recovering the cost of subsidized mobile devices.

    In its arguments to the Federal Court of Appeal CIPPIC, representing OpenMedia, argued that the Code was actually future-facing (not retrospective) and that, regardless, the CRTC had the regulatory authority to interfere with past vested rights. The switching costs imposed on customers for moving to another provider early -- out of frustration with the service or because better deals emerged in the market -- were in reality penalties imposed on customers for future actions. This is borne out by the record of the proceeding, where a number of service providers testified that these penalties were a means of minimizing churn (preventing customers from moving to a competitor) not a means of recouping mobile device costs. Many of these penalties exceeded the value of any device, which is the reason the CRTC regulated the amount of early termination fees, forcing providers to tie these to device subsidies. More importantly, the CRTC is entrusted with overseeing a comprehensive regulatory regime that requires the balancing of complex policy objectives in a highly specialized environment. It would be impossible if not impractical for the CRTC to carry out its task without the ability to interfere with vested rights. In a carefully thought out decision, the Federal Court of Appeal found that the Wireless Code did in fact interfere with vested rights retrospectively, but that the CRTC was empowered to do so as long as it acted reasonably which, in this instance, it did. As a result, all Canadians, including those who are currently stuck in three year contracts, will be able to benefit from the Code's protections as of June 3, 2015. This includes the ability to leave a service contract without penalty 24 months from the day the contract began. For more information, see our resource pages on the Wireless Code and on our intervention in Bell v. Amtelecom.