Chief Justice asks: will accuracy and fairness be casualties of the social media era?

February 1st, 2012 by Barry Sookman 1 comment »

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada gave a speech yesterday at Carleton University. In it she questioned whether fairness and accuracy might be lost in the world of blogging, tweeting and the use of social networks. She said the media is essential to building public trust in the administration of justice.

For those of you who follow copyright law reform developments on certain blogs and social media sources you might find her speech will resonate with you.

Redefining copyright in the digital era

January 29th, 2012 by Barry Sookman and Dan Glover No comments »

Here is a copy of the article with the above title published in the January  20, 2012 edition of The Lawyers Weekly.

In early December, copyright lawyers from across the country descended on the Supreme Court to participate in a cluster of cases that may redefine the scope of copyright in the digital era.

EU Commission proposes comprehensive reform of data protection rules

January 26th, 2012 by Barry Sookman No comments »

Yesterday, the European Commission proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU’s 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy. Highlights of the reform plan are described by the Commission as follows:

  • A single set of rules on data protection, valid across the EU. Unnecessary administrative requirements, such as notification requirements for companies, will be removed. This will save businesses around €2.3 billion a year.
  • Instead of the current obligation of all companies to notify all data protection activities to data protection supervisors – a requirement that has led to unnecessary paperwork and costs businesses €130 million per year, the Regulation provides for increased responsibility and accountability for those processing personal data.

Ontario recognizes privacy tort of intrusion upon seclusion

January 18th, 2012 by Barry Sookman No comments »

The Ontario Court of Appeal formally recognized today the existence of a tort for an intrusion upon seclusion. In the widely watched case of Jones v Tsige 2012 ONCA 32, the Court reviewed the prior case law from around the country, the US and the Commonwealth. After doing so, it concluded that Ontario has already accepted the existence of a tort claim for appropriation of personality and that it was appropriate for the Court to confirm the existence of a right of action for intrusion upon seclusion. “Recognition of such a cause of action would amount to an incremental step that is consistent with the role of this court to develop the common law in a manner consistent with the changing needs of society.”

Do linking sites infringe copyright?

January 18th, 2012 by Barry Sookman 1 comment »

A UK judged ruled on Friday that the 23 year operator of the TVShack.net linking website could be extradited to the US to face a trial for alleged criminal copyright infringement. In rendering the decision the UK court made some important findings about the scope of UK copyright law. They included the ruling that organizing and providing hyperlinks to infringing content from a linking website can infringe the making available right.

Supreme Court to hear whether ISPs are broadcasting undertakings

January 16th, 2012 by Barry Sookman No comments »

Later  this morning the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television & Radio Artists, et al. v. Bell Aliant Regional Communications, LP, et al. case.  The central issue in the case is whether the Federal Court of Appeal erred in holding that retail ISPs are not broadcasting undertakings subject to regulation by the CRTC when they provide access through the Internet to broadcasting requested by end users.

The decision of the Federal Court of Appeal being appealed from is Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (Re), 2010 FCA 178. The factums of the parties can be found here. The case will be webcast by the court and will be available here.

Copyright law 2011 –the year in review in Canada and around the world

January 13th, 2012 by Barry Sookman No comments »

Yesterday, I gave a talk at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s 16th Annual Intellectual Property Law: The Year in Review program. My talk canvassed developments in copyright in 2011.  My slides are shown below. The associated paper prepared in collaboration with Glen Bloom, with the help of others, is available here.

My slides and/or the paper summarize the following copyright cases from Canada, the USA, UK and  Europe:

CANADA

Re: Sound v Motion Picture Theatre Association of Canada 2011 FCA 70

Reference re Broadcasting Act 2011 FCA 64

Crookes v. Newton 2011 SCC 47

Cyberlockers, social media sites and copyright liability

January 9th, 2012 by Barry Sookman No comments »

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.

Law Society gives lawyers social media guidance

January 9th, 2012 by Barry Sookman No comments »

The Law Society representing solicitors in England and Wales issued a practice note for the use of social media by lawyers. It covers considerable ground including ethical obligations and the application of Principles in the SRA Handbook to the use of social media. Some of the highlights include the following;

You must act with integrity

Personal integrity is central to your role as the client’s trusted advisor and should characterise all your professional dealings with clients, the court, other lawyers and the public.

You must not allow your independence to be compromised

Will it be illegal to recommend a dentist under Canada’s new anti-spam law (CASL)?

January 3rd, 2012 by Barry Sookman 2 comments »

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.