News

  • – 2014-02-28 –

    CIPPIC is representing OpenMedia.ca in Bell v. Amtelecom, File No. A-337-13, whereby the Federal Court of Appeal will decide how long customers of wireless services will need to wait before benefitting from the CRTC's recently adopted Wireless Consumer Protection Code. The Code, which includes a comprehensive set of consumer protections designed to address a number of long-standing problems endemic in the wireless market. The Code, which was issued June 3, 2013, was to apply to all service contracts within two years. However, the Appellants in Bell v. Amtelecom argue that the CRTC does not have the authority to impose these obligations to pre-existing contracts due to long-standing common law presumptions against retroactivity. CIPPIC, representing OpenMedia.ca in the matter, argued that the Code does not retrospectively interfere with any vested rights and, as such, does not attract the common law presumptions in question. Moreover, the CRTC is entrusted with a comprehensive regulatory regime and can therefore regulate retroactively. Finally, the CRTC properly decided to ensure that all customers can benefit from the Code's protections within 2 years. As noted in the CRTC's Wireless Code decision, three years is a long time in the dynamic and rapidly evolving wireless market.

  • – 2014-02-20 –

    In late 2012, Voltage Pictures sued over 2000 filesharers for sharing copies of Voltage's films over Bittorrent. To identify the alleged infringers, Voltage had to file a motion asking the court to order an Internet Service Provider (ISP), Teksavvy, to hand over the subscriber identities linked to the sharing activity.

    In early 2013, CIPPIC was granted leave to intervene in that motion. CIPPIC's interest in the case stemmed from its desire to (1) ensure that the test for disclosing identities associated with anonymous internet activity remains sufficiently robust to protect high-value speech, such as whistle-blowing and online criticism, and (2) ensure that copyright trolls did not set up shop in Canada, employing taxpayer-funded Canadian courts as tools in a shakedown scheme that has emerged in the United States and England.

    The Federal Court's decision, released February 20, 2014, offers aggrieved copyright owners a carefully calibrated tool for seeking redress for good faith claims of copyright infringement while at the same time trying to slam the door on copyright trolls. The Court has asserted that these sorts of proceedings will go forward as a "specially managed proceeding", subject to robust judicial oversight designed to ferret out abuses, protect privacy, and deter profiteering in the name of copyright infringement.

  • – 2014-02-14 –

    The National Post, followed by Richard Warman today withdrew their respective appeals of the important Federal Court decision in Warman v. Fournier, 2012 FC 803. The withdrawals occurred just five days before the appeal was set down to be heard before the Federal Court of Appeal. The decision has enormous implications for journalists, bloggers, and online free speech generally.

    The surprise move means that Justice Rennie's initial findings stand. The Appellants challenged these, arguing that:

    • hyperlinks do not count as 'attribution' (a pre-requisite to the exercise of some fair dealing rights);
    • copyright law's limitation period applies to works published on the internet is effectively renewed daily, as the content posted to the Internet is reproduced 'every day' it remains available, leading to never ending potential liability;
    • platform hosts are liable for content posted to their sites even before they receive notice from a litigang that the content in question may be infringing; and
    • reproducing general excerpts from an original work amounts to taking a "substantial part" of the work when assessing a non-economic claim of infringement.

    CIPPIC had intervened in the case and filed a Memorandum of Fact and Law supportive of the holdings of Justice Rennie at the trial level. For more information, see our resource page: https://cippic.ca/copyright/national_post_v_fournier

  • – 2014-02-11 –

    CIPPIC has joined over 6,000 organization and individual websites in an international day of action protesting against mass surveillance. The Day We Fight Back, which began as a U.S. based initiative spearheaded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Access, Center for Democracy & Technology, Mozilla, Reddit, and others, has taken on international dimensions as groups and individuals throughout the world are speaking out against the increasingly disproportionate overreaching of their respective national spying agencies.

    The grassroots campaign includes a Canadian component, an international component and a U.S.-based component. The Canadian-based component provides a mechanism, hosted at http://thedaywefightback.ca by OpenMedia.ca, which lets individuals send their local MPs a message calling for an end to the government's excessive surveillance practices. The international component lets individuals sign on to the International Principles for the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, a set of legal principles developed by CIPPIC and a number of other civil society groups designed to secure privacy and other human rights in an environment where it is rapidly becoming technologically feasible to collect 'everything'. The U.S. component allows individuals to either phone or email their congressional representatives in support of legislation that seeks to roll back the expansive powers of U.S. investigative agencies. So far, as of 2 pm, over 170,000 individuals have signed the International & Canadian calls to action since this morning. In the United states, 45,000+ and 100,000+, respectively, have phoned and emailed their U.S. congressional representatives.

  • – 2014-01-20 –

    In preperation for a series of hearings that will reexamine television policy from the ground up, the CRTC has encouraged Canadians to host a series of 'Flash! Conferences', with the intention of gaining views from the general public on television preferences. The Conferences were intended to canvass a range of issues. Foremost amongst these is are challenges posed to Canada's broadcasting policy objectives by the transition to new media platforms such as the Internet and other digital networks. Additional concerns related to the need to secure a level playing field by ensuring fundamental principles such as net neutrality are preserved in the new ecosystem. Finally, the discussions seeked to reconcile complex conflicts relating to maximizing viewer choice in television packaging, reducing out of control cable pricing and securing the ongoing creation of quality Canadian content. CIPPIC co-hosted a Flash! Conference in Ottawa, and helped review a report summarizing results from another series of Flash! conferences facilitated by our friends at OpenMedia.ca.

  • – 2013-11-08 –

    CIPPIC's submission to the Notice and Notice consultations calls for a fair system that facilitates good faith allegations of infringement while dissuading misuse of the system.

    The Notice and Notice consultations pertain to the system established in the Copyright Modernization Act for copyright owners to provide internet service providers and search engines with notices alleging infringement with respect to the activities of customers of those services. The ISPs and search engines are obliged under the law to forward the notices. The consultations seek input on the implementation of the system.

    CIPPIC's submission calls for clear identification of the party making the allegation and the works involved, clarity that the notice is merely an allegation - not a determination - of infringement, and penalties for misuse of the notice system.

  • – 2013-10-29 –

    CIPPIC joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Privacy International in writing a submission to the Inter-America Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) as part of a thematic hearing examining the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) electronic surveillance activities and their consistency with human rights protections. The thematic hearing constitutes the first time that the IACHR (an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States and one of the key institutions that oversees human rights protections within the inter-American system) is to examine the NSA's mass surveillance programs.

    The submission, which was signed by 24 organizations from throughout the Americas, highlighted the scope and legal framework of the NSA's surveillance programs and argued that these violated the right to privacy and free expression, as guaranteed by the Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. In particular, the submission pointed to the indiscriminate nature of the NSA's surveillance programs as recently confirmed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden, as well as the explicit disregard for the human rights of non-US persons that is at the heart of its legal authorization framework.

  • – 2013-07-31 –

    CIPPIC has joined over 120 civil society groups from around the world in endorsing a set of principles (FR) geared towards re-asserting what it means to protect privacy and associated human rights in light of increasing state surveillance capacities. Over the past several years, several gaps and cracks have developed in constitutional privacy frameworks around the world, which have simply not kept up with technological advances. Slipping through these cracks, government monitoring has grown to exponential proportions, as highlighted most recently and dramatically by a string of revelations regarding the unchecked surveillance programs operated by several foreign intelligence agencies in Canada and around the world. Over the past year, CIPPIC has worked with a number of civil society groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy International and Access to develop these principles as a means of addressing several of these shortcomings. As detailed below, the Principles collectively call for:

    • Transparency in Surveillance. The basis and interpretation of surveillance powers must be on the public record, and rigorous reporting and individual notification obligations are required;
    • Technical Neutrality. It is no longer acceptable to rely on artificial technical distinctions such as 'content' or 'non-content' as a basis for harvesting mass amounts of personal information;
    • Proportionality & Due Process. It is time to re-assert what has historically been the primary vehicle for preventing electronic surveillance from getting out of hand: prior authorization by an independent judicial entity based on a determination that the surveillance is highly likely to provide evidence that will address a serious harm;
    • Formalized Trans-Border Access. All access to any data of any individual must occur in a manner that is consistent with these Principles. It is no longer acceptable to bypass domestic privacy protections by relying on secretive and informal information sharing arrangements with foreign states, on voluntary cooperation by private international companies, or by treating individuals as though they lack privacy rights simply because they live in another country.

    It is time to turn back the surveillance tide. If your organization is interested in endorsing these principles or in learning more, please email: rights@eff.org. The full set of principles can be found at https://en.necessaryandproportionate.org and https://fr.necessaryandproportionate.org/.

  • – 2013-06-27 –

    The CRTC issued Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2013-310 today, in which it approved the merger of Canada's largest and most heavily integrated communications company (Bell) and Canada's last significant independent (and non-integrated) broadcaster (Astral). In its submissions to this proceeding, CIPPIC called on the Commission to refuse the merger a second time, pointing to a number of flaws in the current regulatory framework that a merged Bell/Astral could exploit in order to harm competition and innovation in Canadian services. Specifically, CIPPIC was concerned post-merger Bell will drive up costs, limit online innovation by centralizing online distribution and restrict customer choice by constraining program packaging. Averting these harms and preserving the public interest in the face of a highly concentrated Bell/Astral will require a more invasive regulatory approach than provided by the Commission's current vertical integration toolset, which relies heavily on flawed dispute resolution mechanisms.

    While disappointingly approving the merger, the Commission acknowledges the need for some form of "additional oversight" in light of "BCE's increased ability to act in an anti-competitive manner." Further, it expressly states concerns over online innovation:

    that BCE’s market position relating to multiplatform rights could permit it to act as a “gatekeeper,” effectively preventing other distributors from offering services to their customers until BCE has decided to offer such services on its own platforms. The Commission is concerned that this could stifle innovation and limit the growth of digital media in Canada.

    However, the Commission appears to adopt a 'wait and see' approach to many of the challenges in question, noting, for example, that it will explore new dispute resolution mechanisms on a 'case by case' basis and in other instances expressing 'expectations' that Bell will not act in an anti-competitive manner, without specifying how it will monitor or enforce these expectations.

  • – 2013-06-12 –

    CIPPIC has been granted leave to intervene at the Federal Court of Appeal in two appeals that raise important copyright issues. National Post v. Fournier and Warman v. Fournier are being heard together. The cases raise important issues such as whether hyperlinks count as 'attribution' (a pre-requisite to the exercise of some fair dealing rights), the application of copyright law's limitation period to works published on the internet (specifically, whether something posted to the Internet is reproduced 'every day' it remains available online), whether reproducing excerpts from an original work amounts to "substantial" reproduction when assessing a non-economic claim of infringement and the nature of liability for Internet intermediaries such as online discussion platforms.

    The Court of Appeal also granted the Computer and Communications Industry Association intervener status in the appeal.