James Cameron Wins Yet Another ‘Avatar’ Theft Lawsuit

Tuesday, 21 January, 2014

Copyright law is actually not that boring if you put the right context and mindset when you try to understand it. Have a read of this THR article, “James Cameron Wins Yet Another ‘Avatar’ Theft Lawsuit” and the summary judgement ruling.

Battles and War in the fight for Fair Digital Copyright for Canada – Government to Reintroduce Bill C-32 “In Exactly the Same Form”

Friday, 9 September, 2011

My heart sank reading Michael Geist, Sept 9, 2011, “Government to Reintroduce Bill C-32 “In Exactly the Same Form”” So my concerns and worries expressed in my Sept 5th, 2011 article, “Fair Digital Copyright for Canada – Insights from a new Phd thesis by Blayne Haggart” may have come true. But I am not giving up easily and Canadians shouldn’t go down without a fight.

Here is an excerpt from Winnipeg Free Press, Sept 8, 2011, “Long-awaited copyright bill returns, but top court to wade in too” (emphasis added)

“One of the hotly debated issues around the bill, around how educators are able to use copyrighted materials, has now popped up before the Supreme Court.

The justices will be hearing a case about whether grade school teachers who make copies of textbooks for their students should be shielded from paying tariffs.

The same issue came up before the Commons committee last March. Groups who represent educators and provincial ministers of education would like to see more explicit protection for classroom copying included in the “fair dealing” section of the Act, while those who represent publishers say they deserve to be compensated for the textbooks they create.

NDP heritage critic Charlie Angus said the government should be listening to criticism of the bill and making changes before it is forced to by the courts.

“There are problems that need to be fixed and we can do this in a collaborative way or a confrontational way, but I would prefer to get this bill done,” Angus said.

“I want to know that they’re actually listening to the witnesses, because witnesses have identified some serious shortfalls with the bill that can be fixed.” […]

Internal U.S. embassy cables posted by Wikileaks this year suggested former industry minister Maxime Bernier offered to show American officials a previous copyright bill before it was tabled in Parliament.

The cables also detailed how the office of another former industry minister, Tony Clement, suggested Washington include Canada on an international piracy watchlist in order to push legislative efforts along.

Fair Digital Copyright for Canada – Insights from a new Phd thesis by Blayne Haggart

Monday, 5 September, 2011

A while ago, I was interviewed by Blayne Haggart, a Carleton University Phd student, for his doctoral dissertation on digital-copyright reform in North America (Canada, Mexico, and United States). We talked about my my work with the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group plus organizing an impromptu citizens’ meeting with the then Minister of Industry Hon. Jim Prentice in December 2007 (see report here and here).

I want to publicly congratulate Blayne for defending his Phd thesis successfully in May 2011. Congrats Dr. Haggart!

In my congratulation email to Blayne, I wonder out loud the dilemma we face. I wonder if we, the Canadians who have cared so much about Digital Copyright that we spent hours to protest and sent in our written submissions for government’s various consultations over the years, have won these battles in defeating bad Digital Copyright bills but may ultimately lose the war to the lobby groups because of a Harper majority government?

I hope the Harper majority government will have learned to respect Canadians’ views expressed in the previous failed Digital copyright reform. Even though I am not optimistic as the lobby groups are strong, I am willing to be hopeful, in fact, I have no choice but be hopeful. Because at this point, a new bad copyright bill will lead to new protests and I would rather be doing something else!

Dr. Blayne Haggart’s Phd Thesis

Here is a link to Blayne’s full Phd thesis “North American Digital Copyright, Regional Governance and the Potential for Variation” (provided to me by Blayne and reposted with permission).

Canadians may find “CHAPTER 4: CANADA AND THE INTERNET TREATIES: ABORTED IMPLEMENTATIONS” (page 248 of the Phd thesis PDF file, and page 237 of hard copy) very interesting to read. Here is “Facebook activism comes to Canada” an excerpt from Chapter 4 subsection “ii. Facebook activism comes to Canada” under section “III. 2007-08: Bill C-61 and the triumph of the U.S. lobby” (page 297 of the Phd thesis PDF file, and page 286 of hard copy),

ii. Facebook activism comes to Canada

Following his arrival at Industry Canada, Prentice attempted to introduce a DMCA- style copyright bill and ended up fomenting widespread public protests that panicked the government, confounded Cabinet colleagues and led to a six-month delay in the bill’s introduction that rendered it collateral damage when the September 2008 election was called. This uprising vindicated Austin and Bernier’s intuition about the political dangers of copyright reform. In the end, the Conservative’s Bill C-61, like the Liberals’ Bill C-60, never got beyond first reading.

In the October 16, 2007, Speech from the Throne, the Conservative government pledged to “improve the protection of cultural and intellectual property rights in Canada, including copyright reform” (Canada 2007). When the government placed An Act to Amend the Copyright Act on the Order Paper on December 10, 2007, observers of Canadian copyright expected that this new bill would be much closer to the DMCA than the Liberals’ C-60 had been.216

What happened next caught everyone off guard. The first weekend in December, Geist set up a Facebook page, Fair Copyright for Canada (FCFC).217 The site’s initial objectives were relatively modest: to inform people and to get people involved in opposing the bill. Its main demand was that the government listen to the public. Eventually, this demand became more specific: that the government hold public consultations on any new bill. Geist and others critiqued the upcoming bill by referring to it as the “Canadian DMCA.” This approach not only focused on a bad policy (i.e., DMCA-like law would be bad for Canada) but linked the issue to the always-latent sentiment of Canadian anti-Americanism. This symbolic bricolage, which played to a long-standing Canadian prejudice, was made more potent given the fact that the United States, and U.S.-based industries were the main groups lobbying for this bill. It was such a powerful linkage that it necessitated a direct rebuttal from the government, which insisted that the bill was indeed “Made in Canada” and his opponents were practicing base anti-Americanism.

With Geist’s Facebook page, the public interest in copyright that had been building for almost a decade exploded into view. After only a month (in January 2008), the page had almost 40,000 members; as of June 2010 it had just under 88,000 members. FCFC proponents argued these numbers represented frustration with the “resistance on the part of our policymakers to grapple with what’s really going on and to produce solutions that are right for us,” in the words of Toronto-based technology lawyer and FCFC member Rob Hyndman (Interview by author, April 22, 2008). In contrast, the government saw the protests as representing only a passionate minority causing “a lot of miscommunication, a lot of misinformation,” according to Jean-Sébastien Rioux, Chief of Staff to then-Industry Minister Jim Prentice (Rioux, interview by author, February 26, 2009).

Individuals also used the FCFC page to organize quasi-independent lobbying efforts, local FCFC groups and grassroots-action campaigns (Geist, interview by author, May 14, 2008). One member, Kempton Lam, a Calgary blogger, software engineer, consultant and documentary maker, used FCFC to organize an impromptu meeting (covered by the mainstream media) with Prentice during a Christmas Open House in his riding office on December 8. Between 40 and 60 people showed up and were eventually able to talk with the minister.218 This Facebook-based activism and the mainstream media press it attracted worried Conservative MPs, who had to deal with irate constituents on an unfamiliar issue, while cabinet ministers who understood the technology were also reluctant to move forward on this copyright bill (Austin, interview by author, April 30, 2008).”


“This dissertation proposes an historical-institutionalist framework for understanding regional governance issues in general and North American governance in particular. Using digital- copyright reform as a test issue, it demonstrates that regional institutionalization can preserve differences and does not necessarily lead to regional policy convergence. This conclusion emerges from historical institutionalism’s focus on understanding the interaction of the policy-relevant ideas, institutions and interests shaping a region, no matter on what “level” they may be located. Regional governance processes must be understood within their own particular historical contexts. This approach allows the researcher to account for relevant influences that are either downplayed or ignored in other approaches to regionalism.

With respect to copyright, this dissertation finds that U.S. digital-copyright policy is shaped decisively by its own domestic ideas, institutions and interests, with international and regional factors playing a minimal role. For Canada and Mexico, while the United States has attempted to influence copyright reform in its neighbours, both countries’ copyright policies continue to be influenced significantly by domestic factors, and both countries continue to display significant copyright-policy autonomy. U.S. ability to influence its neighbours is constrained by the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) guarantee of market access, which limits the U.S. ability to link copyright reform to improved access to its market, suggesting that NAFTA’s rules play a role in maintaining policy autonomy and reducing the potential for policy convergence.”

P.S. Blayne must be doing his job right since he received, in June 2010, some alarming and unseemly comments from Minister James Moore. [HT Blayne]

Unfortunately, I think many people who don’t totally agree with Moore have sadly seen the dark sides of James Moore. In my case, I have shared my James Moore experiences in “Democratic right Twitter-blocked by @MPJamesMoore” (March 2011).

Leading Thinker Cory Doctorow’s Keynote Address at SIGGRAPH 2011

Saturday, 13 August, 2011

The following is one of Cory Doctorow‘s best speech. Cory is an editor of Boing Boing and one of the leading thinkers about Copyright. [HT my friend +Jan Rubak]

Leading Thinker Cory Doctorow’s Keynote Address at SIGGRAPH 2011

P.S. I can’t stop smiling when he starts talking, at ~12:49, about Canadian Heritage Minister [Twitter @JamesMoore_org].

Personal observation: Minister Moore believes in political debate and listening to citizen’s views as long as he can block you. See Twitter @no_mpjamesmoore

Canadian Copyright Bill C-32 submission

Friday, 28 January, 2011

Feel great! Finally got around to send in my Bill C-32 submission to the parliamentary committee (Committee’s mailbox at CC32@parl.gc.ca) three days before the 31 Jan, 2011 deadline!

Check out Prof. Michael Geist’s “Canadians Speaking Out on Bill C-32” for his views and other experts’ takes. And I found Project Gutenberg Canada’s submission very insightful.


“In order for briefs on Bill C-32 to be considered by the Committee in a timely fashion, the document should be submitted to the Committee’s mailbox at CC32@parl.gc.ca by the end of January, 2011. A brief which is longer than 5 pages should be accompanied by a 1 page executive summary and in any event should not exceed 10 pages in length.

Birgitte Andersen, Chris Castle, Bob Tarantino – P2P filesharing research and Internet gossip

Tuesday, 5 October, 2010

The names Birgitte Andersen, Chris Castle, Bob Tarantino are unfamilar to me until this morning when I read “Falling off the edge of a flat world? – Internet gossip on P2P filesharing research – a response from Professor Birgitte Andersen“, I can say the article is more intriguing than some fictions. It is also painful to see when someone, her professional credibility, and her peer-reviewed research for Industry Canada (Andersen-Frenz report (2007): The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music: A Study for Industry Canada, PDF version) are attacked in the manner described.

Here is an excerpt from Professor Andersen’s “Falling off the edge of a flat world? ” (comments and emphasis added),

Campaign to discredit

You have got to ask yourself, – who will spend time going through years (across 2005,06,07) of internal and informal emails (obtained under the under the Access to Information Act) between myself and one of my consultancy contractors (Industry Canada), a past reviewer’s report of an early draft, selectively reading my publications since 2001, and producing about 20 printed pages (in two parts) of menacing rant appearing to try to undermine my (Andersen’s) research credibility and the Andersen-Frenz (2007) study for Industry Canada on “The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music”. [comment: Wow!]

Amazingly, this two-part diatribe (published in May and June 2010) attacking me and my research is published as an apparently ‘independent’ analysis representing facts and not taking sides in the ongoing international debate on how policy should respond to unauthorized filesharing on the Internet and the digital economy of the future.

The blogger is in fact Chris Castle from ‘Christian L Castle Attorneys’ based in Los Angeles and San Francisco USA, and the firm’s web site lists that they represent the record labels, film studios, among others. Thus, one could consider they have a clear financial interest in the debate on intellectual property (IP) policy in the digital economy.  Another blogger spreading this unsubstantiated gossip on the Internet is Bob Tatantino [sp? Tarantino] from Heenan Blaikie’s Entertainment Law Group in Toronto.

Is this type of work commissioned? Peer- reviewed? (not likely!), and what interests surround the making and publication of it? [comment: Good questions.]

Is it hypocritical, or even dishonest, that firms so closely linked to the interests on the one side of the copyright debate on digital economy policy present themselves as neutral carriers of ‘truth’ while accusing a neutral academic study of taking sides?  Do these firms have a conflict of interest? [comment: Interesting questions again.]

Interestingly, I was not informed of the publication of this work (but realized its existence as I received a number of unusual emails over the summer), which explains my late response.

[HT Geist]

Twitter debate btwn @doctorow & @mpjamesmoore (Minister of Canadian Heritage)

Monday, 26 July, 2010

This is one insightful twitter debate about Canadian copyright, Apple’s digital locks (TPM) and more, [via @doctorow captured by David Eaves]

Twitter debate btwn @doctorow & @mpjamesmoore Moore defended Apple’s digital locks. US now says ok to break http://bit.ly/9Pp3uw

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