2011 was the year US copyright law was put to the test confronting whether cyberlockers and social media sites are liable for infringements contributed to by these sites. Some sites, like myVidster (see here also) Megaupload, Hotfile, and MP3tunes suffered set backs or losses in the US courts. Others, like Visible Technologies the operator of the myxer.com social radio website and most recentlyVeoh Networks were more successful, at least so far.
Over the holidays I got an email from one of my relatives visiting Toronto. She asked me to recommend a dental surgeon for an unexpected tooth extraction. She also asked me to refer her to other dentists to get additional recommendations. I sent her an email with a recommendation to get treatment from a dental surgeon who I encouraged her to see and also provided the name of a family dentist who could make other recommendations. My email included a link to a website of the clinic operated by the dental surgeon. My wife sent a similar email when I told her my relative was looking for a dentist. Later that day I started wondering whether responding to this type of inquiry would be legal or illegal under Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL), once it is proclaimed into force.
I just finished reading the fascinating reasons delivered by the Quebec Court of Appeal in the France Animation v Robinson, 2011 QCCA 1361 case. The main issue in the appeal was whether sketches and characters of the proposed TV series Robinson curiosity were infringed by the series Robinson sucro. The trial judge found infringement and the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment, in part.
Last month the Federal Court of Appeal issued its reasons in the Amazon.com “one-click” patent case. Since the Court of Appeal directed the Commissioner to revisit Amazon.com’s application, it was not clear whether or not the patent was eligible subject matter. The decision of the Court of Appeal left many questions unanswered.
It appears that the Patent Office has now determined that Amazon.com’s patent application, “Method and System For Placing A Purchase Order Via A Communication Network” (Canadian Patent Application No. 2,246,933), is eligible subject matter. Patent Office records show that following an amendment made on December 22, 2011 a Notice of Allowance was issued on December 23, 2011. The records also show that the Final Fee was paid on December 28, 2011.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) issued a Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. In the review, the USTR identified markets that typify the problem of marketplaces that deal in goods and services that infringe on intellectual property rights and help to sustain global piracy and counterfeiting. Canada was listed in several of these markets.
According to the USTR “The scale and popularity of these markets can cause economic harm to U.S. and other IP right holders. In addition, products sold at these markets may pose possible health and safety risks to consumers.”
Crowell & Moring LLP, a law firm with offices in the US, Brussels and the UK released a white paper that describes the legal mechanisms available to copyright holders in the EU to prevent ISP systems from being used for online file sharing. Published by the US based Copyright Alliance, the paper provides a summary of European laws which have been used to grant injunctive relief to prevent online file sharing including injunctions requiring ISPs to implement DNS blocking. The paper also summarizes the recent ECJ Scarlet case which dealt with the power of EU courts to grant orders requiring ISPs to filter peer to peer traffic over their networks.
The webcasts of the five Supreme Court of Canada copyright appeals are now available. The ESA/Bell v SOCAN “communicate to the public” and the SOCAN v Bell fair dealing cases can be viewed here. (They are streams and not downloads and so are communications.) The K-12 Access Copyright and Re:Sound appeals can be viewed here.
The UK will not adopt US fair use. This was revealed in statements made by Baroness Wilcox, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Business, Innovation and Skills and John Alty, Chief Executive and Comptroller General, Intellectual Property Office, in testimony before the UK Business, Innovation and Skills Committee on November 15, 2011.
Here is a extract from the testimony.
Q219 Chair : At the time, there were assertions that companies such as Google would not start up in this country because of the UK copyright law. Do you still hold that theory now and will Government policy reflect that or accommodate Google?
The copyright bar and the Supreme Court are gearing up for two big days of copyright appeals. The five appeals are being heard back to back on December 6 and 7, 2011.
Earlier today the Court circulated the draft schedule for the arguments. It lists all the parties, the interveners, the lawyers involved, and the order in which the cases are going to be heard. It is going to be a very interesting two days for copyright in Canada.