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Technology law column by Michael Geist

Canada's Lack of Innovation an Emerging Crisis

The political world may have been focused last week on crises at the Senate and the Toronto mayor's office, but a new report from the government's Science, Technology and Innovation Council quietly pointed to a serious, emerging economic crisis. The STIC reported that Canada's research and development performance is lagging behind the world's leading economies, continuing a disturbing decade-long decline.

Time to Clean Up the Mess at the Copyright Board

With the latest phase of Canadian copyright reform now complete, the government may soon turn to the question of what comes next. Given last year's major legislative overhaul and the landmark series of copyright decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada, significant substantive changes are unlikely to be on the agenda for the foreseeable future.

Why Creators and Consumers Should Welcome the "Netflix Threat"

The examination of the proposed Bell acquisition of Astral Communications took place last week in Montreal with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearing from a wide range of supporters and opponents of a deal that only last year was rejected as contrary to the public interest.  

As Bell and Astral sought to defend their plan, a familiar enemy emerged - Netflix. What does a U.S.-based Internet video service with roughly two million Canadian subscribers have to do with a mega-merger of Bell and Astral?  

Canadian Government Establishes Two-Tier Approach for Trade Talks: Insiders and Everyone Else

As the future of the proposed Canada - European Union Trade Agreement becomes increasingly uncertain - the EU has been unwilling to compromise on the remaining contentious issues leaving the Canadian government with a deal that offers limited benefits and significant costs - the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is likely to emerge as the government's new top trade priority.

Your Information is Not Secure: Thousands of Government Privacy Breaches Point to Need for Reform

As Canadians focused last week on the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and the RCMP arrests of two men accused of plotting to attack Via Rail, the largest sustained series of privacy breaches in Canadian history was uncovered but attracted only limited attention.

CRTC Should Force Broadcasters To "Compete Just Like Any Other Sector"

Last month, Jean-Pierre Blais, the chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, delivered a much-discussed speech at the Canadian Media Production Association's annual conference. The CMPA is Canada's leading organization for the production of Canadian film and television programming and Blais' message was intended to both congratulate and challenge the industry.

Canada's Digital Divide Likely To Widen Due to Access and Adoption Failures

The state of Internet access in Canada has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years as consumers and businesses alike assess whether Canadians have universal access to fast, affordable broadband that compares favourably with other countries. A new House of Commons study currently being conducted by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology offers the chance to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of Canadian high-speed networks and what role the government might play in addressing any shortcomings.

Quebec Court Says No to eBay's Online Contract

Few things are more common on the Internet than the lengthy, largely incomprehensible, online contracts that are often buried at the bottom of web pages with a simple link to "terms". These agreements sometimes run dozens of pages if printed out and invariably transfer all responsibility and liability to the user, while selecting a jurisdiction clause that is advantageous to the website and inconvenient to most users.

What's Really Behind Canada's Anti-Counterfeiting Bill

With only limited fanfare, earlier this month Industry Minister Christian Paradis introduced Bill C-56, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. Since no one supports counterfeit products - there are legitimate concerns associated with health and safety - measures designed to address the issue would presumably enjoy public and all-party support. Yet within days of its introduction, the bill was the target of attacks from both opposition parties and the public.

Lights, Camera, Kickstarter: How Internet Crowdfunding Is Changing the Way Movies are Funded

The movie Argo may have picked up the biggest prize in last week's Academy Awards ceremony, but it was the Best Documentary Short winner that had many on the Internet buzzing. Inocente, a film about a 15-year old homeless girl who dreams of becoming an artist, took home the Oscar and in the process became the first Internet crowdsource funded film to win Hollywood's biggest award. Last year, the film raised $52,527 on Kickstarter, a crowdsource funding website that has raised over US$100 million to support the creation of independent films.


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