Why the CRTC should endorse FairPlay’s website-blocking plan: a reply to Michael Geist

February 12th, 2018 by Barry Sookman No comments »

The Hill Times published my op-ed on the FairPlay Canada website blocking proposal,  Why the CRTC should endorse FairPlay’s piracy site-blocking plan. The full unedited version, complete with endnote references is below.

Last week Fairplay Canada filed an application with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), asking for a new tool to help Canadian creators to combat online theft of their content by illegal piracy websites. It proposed that the Canada’s telecom regulator create an independent agency to identify websites and services that are “blatantly, overwhelmingly, or structurally engaged in piracy”. Following a fair procedural process, the agency could recommend that a site be blocked by ISPs. Then, if the CRTC agreed, that quasi-judicial administrative agency could use its lawful authority to order ISPs to block the site.

OPC position on online reputation: search engines must de-index privacy violating personal information

January 27th, 2018 by Barry Sookman 1 comment »

Are search engines subject to PIPEDA? Should they be required to de-index web pages such as when information about an individual is inaccurate, incomplete or outdated, ;or when the linked to information is illegal? Should search engines be subject to a notice and de-indexing or demotion regime? And, should search engines be required to geo-fence to ensure that search results containing personal information about Canadians that violates PIPEDA  is not made accessible in Canada regardless of which domain a Canadian searches on? In a Draft OPC Position on Online Reputation released yesterday in response to a public consultation, the answer to each of those questions was YES.

Support for creators: pirate streaming and the value gap, my op-ed in the Globe

January 19th, 2018 by Barry Sookman No comments »

Here is my full unedited op-ed published in today’s Globe and Mail.

The cultural industries in Canada are facing major challenges. A significant contributing cause is our outdated legal frameworks. They did not contemplate, and have not been updated to address, the new means of stealing content or uses of content by Internet platforms and others without permission or paying just compensation. These issues and proposals to address them deserve our attention. Two examples are illustrative.

The first involves Internet streaming piracy. Canadians have a plethora of ways to watch television and movie programming, including over-the-air broadcasts, cable, satellite, authorized IPTV services, and over-the-top services such as Netflix.

Globe and Mail editorial attacks on Canadian creators and broadcasters: what’s up with the Globe?

January 4th, 2018 by Barry Sookman No comments »

There was a time you could count on The Globe and Mail to support the Canadian cultural industries and to favour legal frameworks designed to strengthen them. You could also count on the Globe not to be soft on content theft by commercial pirates that harm Canadian businesses and impede their ability to innovate. Recently, however, the Globe has taken one-sided positions opposite the creative community. Worse, it has taken these positions relying on inadequate research and supporting them with inaccurate factual assertions, in some cases by relying on writings of anti-copyright activist Michael Geist.

Website blocking effective without over blocking: EUFA v British Telecommunications

December 31st, 2017 by Barry Sookman No comments »

Site blocking is an important tool to reduce online copyright piracy. As I argued in a recent blog post, Website blocking proposal good policy, there are persuasive reasons why these orders should also be available in Canada.

Some opponents of effective protection for the creative industries, broadcasters and distributors oppose site blocking, questioning whether it is effective and suggesting it is a disproportionate remedy, despite the studies and decisions around the world that show otherwise.

Website blocking proposal good policy

December 8th, 2017 by Barry Sookman 1 comment »

CANADALAND recently reported (Inside Bell’s Push To End Net Neutrality In Canada) that a coalition of Canadian companies  is considering a proposal to have Canada’s telecommunications and broadcast regulator, the CRTC, establish a regime to block egregious copyright infringing websites.

The proposal is long overdue and, if adopted, would modernize Canada’s laws relating to Internet piracy and bring them into line with those of many of our trading partners. The proposal is not an attack on net neutrality; rather it is an efficient means of stopping content theft. If adopted, the proposal could stop the hemorrhaging that Canadian creators, producers, actors, broadcasters and distributors are suffering due to the scourge of illegal streaming services. The criticisms of the proposal are overblown and contain factually inaccurate statements.

US court thumbs its nose at Supreme Court of Canada: Google v Equustek

November 19th, 2017 by Barry Sookman 1 comment »

A court in the Northern District of California in Google LLC v. Equustek Solutions Inc. 2017 WL 5000834 (Nov 2, 2017) issued an order earlier this month enjoining Equustek from enforcing the global de-indexing order it obtained against Google in a British Columbia court. This was an order that was given great scrutiny and which was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., 2017 SCC 34 (summarized here).

ITCan and IIC conferences for IT and communications lawyers

October 15th, 2017 by Barry Sookman No comments »

The fall is usually accompanied by some great conferences for tech and communications lawyers. This year is no exception.

The IT.Can 21st Annual Conference will be held on October 23 and 24, 2017 at the St. Andrew’s Club and Conference Centre in Toronto. There are some terrific plenaries and break-out sessions, as usual. This is the best annual conference for Canadian tech lawyers and a great way to catch up on recent developments. The conference brochure and registration information can be found at IT.Can’s website.

Is Google a publisher according to Google? The Google v Equustek and Duffy cases

October 10th, 2017 by Barry Sookman 1 comment »

Is Google, the operator of the world’s most popular search engine, a publisher entitled to the constitutional protections accorded to publishers of free speech? Or is Google a passive/neutral intermediary which has no control over what its search engine algorithms disseminate and which doesn’t publish the information in, or hyperlinked to, it’s search results? Google argues it is and is not a publisher, depending on which position will best exonerate it from legal demands including court orders that it de-index URLs and websites from which illegal content is made available.

CASL: my appearance before the INDU Committee

October 6th, 2017 by Barry Sookman No comments »

I had the privilege of appearing before the INDU Committee studying CASL yesterday. Here are my speaking notes. You can listen to the proceedings via ParlVU.


I thank the Committee for inviting me here today. What you are doing is very important. CASL is flawed and needs re-examination.

I am a senior partner with the law firm McCarthy Tetrault. I am also an Adjunct professor of intellectual property law at Osgoode Hall Law School and am on the advisory boards of the think tanks Macdonald Laurier Institute (MLI) and CIGI. I am here today in my personal capacity.