Ottawa Citizen

Let­ters of the Law: The year in tech law and pol­icy

- MICHAEL GEIST

From the re­mark­able bat­tle over the Stop On­line Piracy Act to the mas­sive pub­lic back­lash against In­ter­net sur­veil­lance in Canada, law and tech­nol­ogy is­sues gar­nered head­lines all year long. A look back at 2012 from A to Z:

A is for As­tral, the Cana­dian broad­cast­ing gi­ant that was to be sold to Bell Me­dia for more than $3 bil­lion. The CRTC blocked the sale on the grounds that the com­pa­nies failed to demon­strate the trans­ac­tion was in the pub­lic in­ter­est.

B is for Jean-Pierre Blais, the newly ap­pointed chair of the Cana­dian Ra­dio-tele­vi­sion and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion. Blais sur­prised the in­dus­try by adopt­ing a strong pro-con­sumer ap­proach dur­ing his first months on the job.

C is for the Copy­right Mod­ern­iza­tion Act, the copy­right re­form bill that re­ceived royal as­sent in June 2012. D is for Dean Del Mas­tro, the Peter­bor­ough mem­ber of Par­lia­ment who raised the spec­tre of reg­u­lat­ing on­line anonymity.

E is for the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, which voted over­whelm­ingly to re­ject the Anti-Coun­ter­feit­ing Trade Agree­ment af­ter hun­dreds of thou­sands of Euro­peans protested against it. F is for FreeDo­min­ion.com, an on­line chat site that de­feated a claim of copy­right in­fringe­ment in­volv­ing the post­ing of por­tions of news­pa­per ar­ti­cles.

G is for GeoCoder, a small Ot­tawa com­pany that cre­ated a crowd-sourced data­base of Cana­dian postal codes. Canada Post ob­jected to the data­base, fil­ing a copy­right in­fringe­ment law­suit.

H is for the U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, which seized bodog.com, a do­main name owned by Cana­dian on­line gam­bling ty­coon Calvin Ayre.

I is for In­dus­try Min­is­ter Chris­tian Par­adis, who failed to un­veil a dig­i­tal econ­omy strat­egy, de­spite a com­mit­ment to do so by year-end.

J is for Jones v. Tsige, a land­mark On­tario Court of Ap­peal de­ci­sion that rec­og­nized a new tort for in­va­sion of pri­vacy.

K is for Keat­ley Sur­vey­ing v. Ter­anet, a pro­posed class-ac­tion suit in­volv­ing copy­right claims over land sur­veys. L is for levies on mi­croSD cards. Af­ter a copy­right col­lec­tive asked the Copy­right Board of Canada to im­pose new fees, the government is­sued a reg­u­la­tion ef­fec­tively block­ing the re­quest.

M is for McMaster Univer­sity, one of sev­eral Cana­dian univer­si­ties hit by se­cu­rity breaches.

N is for Nex­opia, a Cana­dian so­cial me­dia ser­vice found to have vi­o­lated pri­vacy laws fol­low­ing a lengthy in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Pri­vacy Com­mis­sioner of Canada.

O is for an open text­book ini­tia­tive launched by the Bri­tish Columbia government that will sup­port the cre­ation of dozens of new freely avail­able on­line text­books.

P is for the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of pri­vacy leg­is­la­tion, thrown into doubt in United Food and Com­mer­cial Work­ers, Lo­cal 401 v. Al­berta (At­tor­ney Gen­eral), an Al­berta Court of Ap­peal de­ci­sion.

Q is for the Queen v. Cole, in which the Supreme Court con­firmed that pri­vacy rights sur­vive in the work­place.

R is for Rogers v. SOCAN, one of five copy­right cases re­leased by the Supreme Court in July that shook up the copy­right land­scape.

S is for the Stop On­line Piracy Act, the con­tro­ver­sial U.S. leg­is­la­tion that sparked global protests in­clud­ing a Wikipedia black­out.

T is for Tell Vic Ev­ery­thing, the Twit­ter cam­paign protest­ing against Cana­dian In­ter­net sur­veil­lance leg­is­la­tion.

U is for Un­tied.com, a gripe site about United Air­lines run by Jeremy Coop­er­stock, a McGill pro­fes­sor. United de­manded Coop­er­stock take the site down due to trade­mark and copy­right claims.

V is for Volt­age Pic­tures, which launched pro­ceed­ings to ob­tain per­sonal in­for­ma­tion on thou­sands of Cana­dian In­ter­net users al­leged to have down­loaded its films.

W is for a wire­less code of con­duct, which the ma­jor wire­less car­ri­ers asked the CRTC to es­tab­lish af­ter sev­eral prov­inces moved to cre­ate pro­vin­cial codes.

X is for dot-xbox, one of thou­sands of pro­posed new do­main name ex­ten­sions.

Y is for Yelp, the re­view site that hosted crit­i­cisms of an Ot­tawa restau­rant that ul­ti­mately led to a crim­i­nal li­bel con­vic­tion af­ter the restau­rant owner sought re­venge for the neg­a­tive re­view.

Z is for Judge Rus­sell Zinn, a fed­eral court judge who con­firmed that the patent for Vi­a­gra was in­valid days af­ter the Supreme Court voided the patent for fail­ing to pro­vide suf­fi­cient dis­clo­sure.

Michael Geist holds the Canada Re­search Chair in In­ter­net and e-com­merce Law at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa, Fac­ulty of Law. Con­tact him at mgeist@uot­tawa.ca or via www.michael­geist.ca.

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