Five years ago, Canada enacted legal protection for technological protection measures (TPMs) as part of the Copyright Modernization Act. The Federal Court has now rendered the first decision interpreting these important rights. In short, the court made it clear that legal protection for TPMs were meant to foster innovation in the creative industries and that businesses blatantly engaging in industrial scale TPM circumvention activities will be dealt with harshly by the courts.
One of the central features of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or DMCA)for online service providers is the combination of the Notice and Takedown regime and the corresponding Safe Harbour provision. Provided that online service providers properly carry out their obligations under these provisions, including by promptly removing infringing content when they receive compliant notices, they are shielded from liability for copyright violations by their users.
This system has critics among service providers, right holders, and users. But it has underpinned the explosion of user content-based services ranging from Facebook and YouTube to small community bulletin boards.
A critical … Continue Reading
On June 14, I gave my annual presentation to the Toronto computer Lawyers’ Group on “The year in review in Computer, Internet and E-Commerce Law”. It covered the period from June 2015 to June 2016. The developments included cases from Canada, the U.S. the U.K., and other Commonwealth countries.
The developments were organized into the broad topics of: Technology Contracting, Online Agreements, Privacy, Online/Intermediary Liability/Responsibility, Copyright, and Trade-marks and Domain names.
The cases referred to are listed below. My slides can be viewed after the case listing. These and many other cases will be added to my 7 volume book … Continue Reading
In Sadhu Singh Hamdard Trust v. Navsun Holdings Ltd. (2016 FCA 69), the Court of Appeal set aside the Federal Court’s (2014 FC 1139) decision dismissing Hamdard Trust’s claim of copyright infringement and passing off against Navsun Holdings and remitted the matter to the Federal Court for redetermination, with some guidance.
This case involves a dispute over an unregistered trademark used by a Punjabi subscription daily newspaper, Ajit Daily, published in India, and by a free weekly newspaper, Ajit Weekly, published in Canada. Hamdard Trust, which operates Ajit Daily, sued Navsun Holdings, which operates Ajit Weekly, … Continue Reading
In June 2015, the previous Conservative government tabled legislation to implement the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. However the bill was introduced shortly before the summer break and, as it turned out, Parliament was dissolved before the legislature returned.
On March 24, 2016, the new Liberal government tabled a substantially identical bill, now known as C-11.
As was the case for its predecessor, the bill broadens the existing exception in section 32, including by removing the exclusion of large print books and by expressly … Continue Reading
Copyright law offers up a panoply of interesting questions, which often verge on the philosophical. One such question is: if one tries to make a copy of something, but the copy is defective and useless, has one made a copy at all? According to a recent decision of Master Hanebury, of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, the answer could be yes.… Continue Reading
On June 8, 2015, the Minister of Industry introduced Bill C-65, with the short title Support for Canadians with Print Disabilities Act. This Bill amends provisions of the Copyright Act dealing with exceptions intended to facilitate access to alternate format works by the visually impaired and other persons with so-called “print disabilities”. These changes are intended to implement (and enable Canada to accede to) the Marrakesh Treaty, as announced in the federal budget. (See pp. 21, 281, 286.)
The proposed amendments broaden the exception in section 32, including by removing the exclusion of large print books … Continue Reading
Copyright infringement is normally a factual question – it doesn’t matter whether one intended to copy a substantial part of someone else’s original expression if, in fact, one did so – but there are circumstances where the alleged infringer’s state of mind does matter. Knowledge is relevant to secondary infringement under s. 27 of the Canadian Copyright Act, or to the assessment of statutory damages under s. 38.1, for example. Willful infringement may also be relevant to the applicable limitation period, to the assessment of costs or punitive damages, or to piercing the corporate veil.… Continue Reading
On December 31, 2014, the Canada Gazette published an order proclaiming into force sections 2, 5 and 6, subsection 7(6) and sections 43, 44 and 60 of the Combating Counterfeit Products Act, c. 32, S.C. 2014, as of January 1, 2015. The Act itself received Royal Assent on December 9, 2014.
The principal effect of this order is to bring into force new border enforcement measures intended to combat the importation or exportation of trade-mark or copyright-infringing goods. These measures involve three main features:
- Prohibitions on importation and exportation of infringing copies or goods under the Copyright
The Supreme Court granted leave to appeal on September 4, 2014 in another copyright case, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation / Société Radio-Canada v. SODRAC 2003 Inc. The appeal is from the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal which ruled that broadcasters must pay royalties for ephemeral recordings in accordance with the 1990 decision of the Supreme Court in Bishop v. Stevens.
In the Court of Appeal, CBC argued that Bishop v Stevens was no longer good law, having been overruled by a series of decisions of the Court which had, in various circumstances, made references to the … Continue Reading
On Friday, the Copyright Board released a decision and certified two SOCAN tariffs, Tariffs 22.D.1 (Internet – Online Audiovisual Services) and 22.D.2 (Internet – User-Generated Content). The years covered by the tariffs are 2007-2013.
The tariffs were certified based on agreements reached between SOCAN and objectors. Between the objectors and other entities which filed submissions, the heavyweights affected by the tariffs participated including Apple, Yahoo!, YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Cineplex, the members of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and the Canadian ISPS Rogers, Bell, and Shaw.
The decision of the Board is important. Its significance extends to both the … Continue Reading
Careful observers of the United States Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision yesterday in American Broadcasting Cos., Inc. et al v. Aereo, Inc. may have detected a small Canadian flavour in the majority’s reasoning. As will be revealed, this was no coincidence, and McCarthy Tétrault played a small role by filing an amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of international rights holders and copyright scholars that drew the Court’s attention to the need to interpret the US Copyright Act in a technologically neutral way, as similar copyright laws have been construed by the Supreme Court of Canada and the European Court … Continue Reading
The Government announced today that the notice and notice regime established under C-11 is coming into force. The delay in bringing these provisions into force was a consultations on possible regulations that the regime permitted. The Government announced that the provisions are coming into force without regulations.
The regime permits copyright owners to send notices to internet service providers and other internet intermediaries claiming infringement of copyright. The notices must be passed on by these service providers to their users. Because there are no regulations, the notices must be processed and passed on by the internet intermediaries without any fees … Continue Reading
On March 3, McCarthy Tétrault partner Steven Mason filed an Amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in the high profile Aereo case in support of the broadcasters and studio appellants who are challenging Aereo’s business model of re-transmitting TV broadcasts over the Internet without paying retransmission royalties. The brief argues that the international, bi-lateral and multilateral treaties the United States agreed to requires US courts to provide a broad technologically neutral right of communication to the public that would fully cover Aereo’s service.
The brief is signed by a “who’s who” of international rights holders, including the International … Continue Reading
Whether we are talking about patents, trademarks, copyright or other forms of intellectual property, they need to be enforced and protected. One outcome of IP litigation can be a monetary award, for example, an award of damages. Organizations sometimes find themselves in a position where a final award in an IP case must be enforced against an individual or a company located in Canada. This happens, for example, where the Canadian defendant has no meaningful assets located in the foreign jurisdiction. It happens more often than one might think.
Essentially, a foreign judgment is viewed as a contractual obligation that … Continue Reading
The Supreme Court recently granted leave to appeal in four copyright cases arising from the decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal in the France Animation v. Robinson, 2011 QCCA 1361 case. Robinson alleged that Cinar’s cartoon Robinson Sucroë was a copy of his own work Robinson Curiosité. The trial judge found infringement and the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment, in part, but reduced the damages award.
The cases canvass many copyright issues including:
- the application of the standard of originality to partially completed work
- the test for infringement when there has been substantial alterations and improvements
If your organization is currently thinking about establishing or acquiring a technology business in Canada, the 2012 edition of Doing Business in Canada, written by McCarthy Tétrault, will prove to be a valuable resource. The guide provides a broad overview of the legal considerations that non-residents should take into account to help ensure their success as they enter into a business venture in Canada. Each section offers timely information, up-to-date legislative provisions and insightful commentary on different areas of law. After downloading the guide, we encourage you to consult one of our lawyers for a more comprehensive analysis … Continue Reading
As followers of the Canadian trade-marks scene will almost certainly have learned, last week Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer succeeded in a long-running battle with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office in getting a trade-mark registration for its longstanding “roaring lion” sound mark. As was widely reported, the Federal Court issued an order setting aside the decision of the Trade-marks Office refusing MGM’s application. The Office then quickly issued a new sound mark practice notice indicating that it would accept other sound mark applications.
The recent McCarthy Tétrault Technology Law Summit included a panel on “Key Developments in IP Law,” featuring James Skippen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, WiLAN Inc. and McCarthy Tétrault partners Beth MacDonald, David Gray and Barry Sookman. Paul Armitage, another McCarthy Tétrault partner, moderated the panel.
James Skippen commented on the growing awareness of the value of intellectual property, and patents, in particular. He observed that, instead of being a neglected asset class, patents are playing a more prominent role, and may even, in some circumstances, exceed the value of a company’s other assets.
After describing WiLAN Inc.’s history … Continue Reading
A company’s brand is a key asset and needs protection both offline and online – so if you haven’t yet embarked on an online brand protection strategy, where do you start?
Your trade-mark, or brand name, is what distinguishes you from your competitors. In effect, trade-marks provide a shortcut to get consumers to where they want to go (as described by Mr Justice Binnie in the Mattel, Inc. v. 3894207 Canada Inc.) And, hopefully that is leading consumers to you, and not to a cybersquatter, pay-per-click site, or to a site that is trying to defraud your customers.