Canadian Law

Ontario Scalping Law on Hold

The current Ontario provincial government has placed the Ticket Sales Act on hold, pending review.

This new law would have been active on Canada Day and would have regulated the resale of tickets in the province of Ontario, as described by this October 6th, 2017 blog entry.

Update – Response on Netflix/Internet Tax

From my local Member of Parliament, Karen McCrimmon (Dated June 13th, 2018) :

“Hello Rob,

Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas with me.

Our government understands the importance of supporting our artists and creators. We also know that the way Canadians access content is changing. That’s why we have made historic investments of $3.2 billion, to support our artists and creators. It’s also why we will be modernizing our laws and programs to better support our artists in the digital era.

Netflix’s investment is a part of the transition. It secures 5 years of investments for our creators, as we modernize our laws and programs.

We, as a government have decided not to introduce a Netflix tax because we don’t want to raises taxes on the middle class, we want to lower them. We will always look at ways to strike the balance between a fair tax system and the investments we need in our culture, but in doing so, we’re not going to be raising taxes on the middle class through an internet broadband tax.

I will share your ideas with my fellow colleagues, including the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau.

Thank your again for your engagement as a constituent.

Kind regards,

Karen”

I had suggested that if taxes on streaming services are absolutely necessary that they consider forwarding a portion of the federal taxes collected from these services to Canadian Content initiatives, instead of introducing an independent levy for that purpose.

As i’ve mentioned in a previous entry, these services will be taxed on New Years Day in Quebec and the Canadian Radio & Telecommunication Commission had made a proposal of their on in regards to levy to fund Canadian Content.

The publics views have been made clear by a February 2017 poll conducted by Innovative Research Group earlier in 2017. But I had thought to send my opinion and suggestions to my local MP and Heritage Minister Melanie Joly in response to the CRTC’s recent proposal.

If you wish to contact your local Member of Parliament on this issue, you can do so via the MP database by clicking here.

I will of course update this blog if the situation changes.

Thank you.

Censorship Proposed

As you may or may not know, several companies have formed a lobby group called FairPlay Canada in order to block certain sites deemed to contain pirated material.

This group proposes the creation of a non-profit entity called the Independent Piracy Review Agency to administer this blocking “under the supervision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to help prevent international piracy sites and organizations from reaching and harming Canada’s creative economy”, as stipulated in a January 29th, 2018 application to the CRTC (PDF). But numerous issues in regards to this were brought up by Openmedia, including issues related to censorship and Net Neutrality. And one has to wonder who will be paying for this initiative.

Personally I have concerns about any entity being tasked with blocking sites because of what happened in July 2005, when Telus decided to block a pro-union website and blocked over 760 sites that just happened to share this pro-union website’s server “by accident”.

A preliminary injunction was required to force Telus to stop blocking these sites and although the proposal attempts to ease these concerns by saying the “system would have extensive checks and balances”, one has to wonder why members of this “trustworthy” group would refuse to air advertisements on this issue from Openmedia and use other tactics like that discovered by blogger Michael Geist.

Do we really want these people to block legal content that happens to be on servers where pirated recordings can be found? Can we be guarantied prompt responses to sites that were unduly blocked? And how exactly would they address the use of Virtual Private Networks, that can used to bypass blocking? Will they claim those services facilitate piracy, blocking them with no real consideration to their legitimate use?

In 2016 legal music streaming profits in Canada went up a whopping 144.9% and legal music downloads remain one of the primary sources of music for Canadians according to Music Canada. And the Nielsen Music 360 survey and BuzzAngle Music confirmed more Canadians are using these legal services in 2017 so people are clearly being lured away from the illegal services this proposal attempts to address.

The use of smartphones to stream music grew in this country according to a September 2017 report issued by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (PDF) ; From 40% in 2016 to 52% in 2017. And Netflix and other streaming services have successfully convinced many would be pirates to use their services instead so why would we need to open this pandora’s box?

Blocking sites will in no way cause recording artists to gain more royalties from the legal streaming services and address what Music Canada calls “The Value Gap“. And the premise of forcing people to attend hearings to keep their sites available to the public is absurd.

Most CRTC hearings are held in Gatineau, Quebec yet the proposal does not discuss where these other hearings might happen or if legal recourses would be made available to those who were forced to incur costs to defend themselves from false accusations. I guess we’re all supposed to subscribe to false dilemmas and presume everything will work out fine.

If you would like to file an intervention with the CRTC, you can do so by clicking here by 8pm Eastern, March 29th, 2018.

Radio-Canada to Destroy 151,000 CDs!

It appears that the Montreal offices of Radio-Canada will be destroying over 151,000 compact discs from their library to save space according to Radio-Canada International.

These recordings will be copied to a digital format by 2019, just before the french public broadcaster’s move to a new smaller building in 2020. And only around 56,000 compact discs from their extensive collection will be offered to cultural or educational organizations.

When asked why all of the recordings could not be sold or given away, a spokeswoman for Radio-Canada stated it would have been too expensive and time consuming to confirm what rights were involved, although one has to wonder about this excuse because of the early 2012 sale of Calgary’s CBC music archive to The Inner Sleeve, a Calgary Record store in March 2012.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sold 27,000 LPs and 35,000 CDs in that transaction and several other archives were closed since early 2012 because these were basically duplicates of the archive in Toronto.

Of the 650,000 compact discs contained at these archives in 2012, only 140,000 were “unique to one particular library” according to Exclaim. And some archivists and audiophiles are concerned about the potential loss of rare recordings in the process.

It’s a shame they couldn’t have simply forwarded Cancon recordings to Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. But according to the CBC and Radio-Canada these were cost cutting measures…

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Canada Post News

The Canadian Government is expected to release a statement today in regards to their community mailbox conversions and several media outlets suspect that these conversions will be suspended.

Officials have told The Canadian Press that a task force will be created to address issues related to seniors and individuals with mobility issues. And apparently, Canada Post may extend their money transfer services for individuals who want to send funds abroad.

Net Neutrality Still Under Attack

It appears that Americans will have no choice but to subscribe to services dictated to them by their internet providers. And that Canadians will be up for a fight to retain fast access with the states.

That’s right, not only are these Americans limited in regards to their choice of internet providers but these providers will be able to throttle sites that compete with sites they own or have business relationships with, which include Canadian sites.

Although this is being sold as an improvement to the internet by the Federal Communications Commission in their official November 21st, 2017 statement (PDF), most experts know that this is yet another call for deregulation, a process that eventually results in parties imposing themselves on the consumer, without a means for the consumer to defend himself/herself.

In this statement, the FCC claims “the FCC would simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate” yet nothing is mentioned about the lack of competition is some states or the possibility of fees being placed on accessing certain sites like Netflix, iTunes or even Amazon.com, who also stream content to Americans.

The bill itself calls for the US Government “to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from reclassifying broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service and from imposing certain regulations on providers of such service” with no information on how it proposes to regulate internet providers that currently hold a monopoly on high speed internet access in some areas or how it would prevent some internet providers from blocking certain competitors or redirecting traffic to their sites.

As Canadians we should also be conserved about these content providers because whatever happens in their primary market can determine how much we pay for their services here. And it appears that quite a few of the content providers are spending considerable amounts fighting the so called “Restoring Internet Freedom Act” because it hinders not only their freedom but the freedom of their customers.

In what way is the average consumer having his or her freedoms hindered by net neutrality ?

The claim that access is being withheld because internet providers are unable to fund their infrastructure is made dubious by the amount of profit these companies release every quarter. They can easily afford expanding but won’t because they want to re-direct their customers to more profitable in house services, whose cable television services have been suffering because of the new content providers.

In other words they’re asking the FCC to give them their cable television customers back by enabling them to throttle and block their competition, which could easily include streaming broadcasts from television networks they do not own. This is a rather vague, slippery slope situation that could be so litigious as to cause subscription fees to skyrocket beyond the inflation rate. And the North American Free Trade Agreement talks won’t help either.

If you have American friends, please encourage them to visit Open Media and to contact their local representatives in regards to this issue.

Thank you.