A vital guide to the Canadian encryption debate

Canada's two leading digital rights groups, CIPPIC (previously) and Citizen Lab (previously) have issued a joint report called Shining a Light on the Encryption Debate: A Canadian Field Guide , and every Canadian should read it. Read the rest

When Justin Trudeau was in opposition, he voted for Canada's PATRIOT Act but promised to fix it; instead he's making it much, much worse

Back in 2015, Canada's failing, doomed Conservative government introduced Bill C-51, a far-reaching mass surveillance bill that read like PATRIOT Act fanfic; Justin Trudeau, leader of what was then a minority opposition party, whipped his MPs to vote for it, allowing it to pass, and cynically admitting that he was only turning this into law because he didn't want to give the Conservatives a rhetorical stick to beat him with in the next election -- he promised that once he was Prime Minister, he'd fix it. Read the rest

CIPPIC: Standing Guard for Canadians' Digital Rights

NAFTA 2.0, the return of the TPP, mobile phone surveillance, copyright term extension, class actions targeting movie downloads: Canadians' digital liberties have never been under more pressure than they are today. Digital liberties matter to Canadians. CIPPIC, Canada's public interest tech law clinic, stands on guard for Canadians' digital liberties.

Canadian government has turned "consultation" on warrantless mass surveillance into a sales-job

The old Canadian Conservative government of Stephen Harper had many controversial policies (cough climate denial cough), with mass surveillance powers very near the top of the charts. Read the rest

Canada Post drops legal claim over crowdsourced postal code database

Canada Post claimed a "crown copyright" over the postal codes assigned to Canadian homes, meaning that Canadian organisations and businesses could only use this vital information if they paid -- that is, they'd have to pay to access something their taxes already paid for, and the richer you were, the more access you could afford. Read the rest

Canadian court rules on copyright trolls: letters can go ahead, under strict supervision

Michael Geist writes, "The Canadian federal court has released its much anticipated decision in Voltage Pictures v. Does, a case involving demands that TekSavvy, a leading independent ISP, disclose the identities of roughly 2,000 subscribers alleged to have downloaded movies without authorization. The case attracted significant attention for several reasons: it is the first major "copyright troll" case in Canada involving Internet downloading (the recording industry previously tried unsuccessfully to sue 29 alleged file sharers), the government sought to discourage these file sharing lawsuits against individuals by creating a $5,000 liability cap for non-commercial infringement, TekSavvy ensured that affected subscribers were made aware of the case and CIPPIC intervened to ensure the privacy issues were considered by the court. Copies of all the case documents can be found here." Read the rest

Canada Post sues crowdsourced postal-code database, claims copyright in Canadian postal-codes

Michael Geist sez,

Canada Post has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Geolytica, which operates, a website that provides several geocoding services including free access to a crowdsourced compiled database of Canadian postal codes. Canada Post argues that it is the exclusive copyright holder of all Canadian postal codes and claims that GeoCoder appropriated the database and made unauthorized reproductions.

GeoCoder, which is being represented by CIPPIC, filed its statement of defence yesterday. The defence explains how GeoCoder managed to compile a postal code database by using crowdsource techniques without any reliance on Canada Post's database. The site created street address look-up service in 2004 with users often including a postal code within their query. The site retained the postal code information and gradually developed its own database with the postal codes (a system not unlike many marketers that similarly develop databases by compiling this information). The company notes that it has provided access to the information for free for the last eight years and that it is used by many NGOs for advocacy purposes.

While GeoCoder makes for a fascinating case study on generating crowdsourced information, the legal issues raised by the case should attract widespread attention. Key issues include whether there is any copyright in postal codes, questions on whether Canada Post owns copyright in the database if there is copyright, and a denial that the crowdsourced version of the database - independently created by GeoCoder - infringes the copyright of the Canada Post database.

Canada Post Files Copyright Lawsuit Over Crowdsourced Postal Code Database Read the rest

US record labels trying to sneak SOPA's provisions into Canada's pending copyright legislation

Michael Geist sez,

The Internet battle against SOPA and PIPA generated huge interest in Canada with many Canadians turning their sites dark (including Blogging Tories, Project Gutenberg Canada, and CIPPIC) in support of the protest. While SOPA may be dead (for now) in the U.S., lobby groups are likely to intensify their efforts to export SOPA-like rules to other countries. With Bill C-11 back on the legislative agenda at the end of the month, Canada will be a prime target for SOPA style rules.

In fact, a close review of the unpublished submissions to the Bill C-32 legislative committee reveals that several groups have laid the groundwork to add SOPA-like rules into Bill C-11, including blocking websites and expanding the "enabler provision"to target a wider range of websites. Given the reaction to SOPA in the U.S., where millions contacted their elected representatives to object to rules that threatened their Internet and digital rights, the political risks inherent in embracing SOPA-like rules are significant.

The music industry is unsurprisingly leading the way, demanding a series of changes that would make Bill C-11 look much more like SOPA.

For example, the industry wants language to similar to that found in SOPA on blocking access to websites, demanding new provisions that would "permit a court to make an order blocking a pirate site such as The Pirate Bay to protect the Canadian marketplace from foreign pirate sites."

The Behind-the-Scenes Campaign To Bring SOPA To Canada Read the rest

Hugo Award winners and statsporn!

Last night I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Hugo Awards ceremony at the World Science Fiction Convention and of losing two Hugos to two of the nicest, most deserving people in science fiction: my friend and teacher Nancy Kress (Best Novella for "The Erdmann Nexus") and my friend and copyfight comrade Neil Gaiman (Best Novel for "The Graveyard Book"). Indeed, this may have been the strongest Hugo ballot in a decade. The pre-award reception was practically awash in awesomesauce, and the winners were, to a one, absolute mensches and geniuses.

I've pasted in the winners below, and thrown in a link to the Hugo Awards administrators' traditional infoporn dump of stats on who nominated and voted for what. My undying thanks to all of you who put Little Brother and True Names on the ballot. I've also thrown in the text of my undelivered Little Brother acceptance speech, because I can, and because it thanks a lot of people who deserve it.

Congrats to Boing Boing reader Jeremy Kratz on wiinning the Hugo Awards logo design competition!

Once I've got a fatter network pipe (this post is going out over the VIA Rail on-train WiFi), I'll upload my Hugo photos, which includes a shot of Neal Stephenson's undelivered acceptance speech for Anathem, which was translated into Ur by Jeremy Bornstein!

Best Novel: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)

Best Novella: ''The Erdmann Nexus'' by Nancy Kress (Asimov's Oct/Nov 2008)

Best Novelette: ''Shoggoths in Bloom'' by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov's Mar 2008)

Best Short Story: ''Exhalation'' by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)

John W.

Read the rest

Video explains timeshifting and Canadian copyright

Law students at the University of Ottawa's Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) have created a great, 5-minute video explaining time-shifting and Canadian copyright law. In light of recent efforts to reform Canadian copyright law, this is perfect, informative material to show to your friends.


(Thanks, Mike!) Read the rest

Charitable giving guide, the 2007 edition

It's that time of year again -- time to make some charitable donations while the giving spirit is on you and while you have the chance to shelter some of your income from the revenooers. I'm rerunning last year's Charitable giving guide for the end-of-year, with a few updates. I've been lucky enough this year to have some money to put toward the causes I support -- hope you're lucky enough to do this, too. Here's my charitable list for the year.

US Charities

Electronic Frontier Foundation: EFF always gets my largest annual donation.

Last year: No organization works harder, spends smarter and gets more done for your personal long-term technological liberty than EFF. I spent years inside the org and I know for a fact that every dime donated makes a difference.

This year: Man, that goes TRIPLE this year. EFF's major work on clobbering the NSA and AT&T for their massive, illegal wiretapping program has convinced me to give EFF more money than I've ever given to a charity in my life. If one organization is going to keep the Internet free and open, it's EFF. Add to that a raft of incredibly smart hires this year, and you've got a powerhouse organization that deserves everything you can spare for them.

Creative Commons:

Last year: Just four years after launching CC has turned into a global movement. More than 160,000,000 works have been released under CC licenses. It's good news for creators and audiences -- but it's amazing news for the public interest. Read the rest

Charitable giving guide for the end-of-year

It's time to donate -- the time of year when you have to give your money to charity or turn it over to the gubmint. I've just done a marathon round of end-of-year charitable giving:

US Charities

Electronic Frontier Foundation: EFF always gets my largest annual donation. No organization works harder, spends smarter and gets more done for your personal long-term technological liberty than EFF. I spent years inside the org and I know for a fact that every dime donated makes a difference.

Creative Commons: Just four years after launching CC has turned into a global movement. More than 160,000,000 works have been released under CC licenses. It's good news for creators and audiences -- but it's amazing news for the public interest. The proof that there's more than one kind of rightsholder using technology today has stayed the hand of more than one regulator. CC keeps getting better, smarter and more global.

Free Software Foundation/Defective By Design: It's wonderful to see a campaigning group based on fighting DRM. Defective by Design has pulled off a number of audacious and clever actions that have raised public awareness of DRM. The fight starts here.

The Internet Archive: What would we do without it? I use it every day. Its mission: Universal access to all human knowledge. What could be more noble?

The Gutenberg Project: The world's leading access-to-public-domain project. They have truly created a library from nothing, and oh, what a library.

The MetaBrainz Foundation: I'm on the board of this charity, which oversees the MusicBrainz project. Read the rest

Hollywood's MP denounces "users," "EFF members" -- video

Last night at an all-candidates meeting, the Canadian Member of Parliament who takes large campaign contributions from the entertainment industry and delivers American-style copyright laws in return was confronted by her constituents, who demanded that she account for her actions.

Sam Bulte is the Liberal MP for Parkdale/High Park, and is running for her third term in office. Her second campaign was funded through extraordinary donations from large publishing, entertainment and pharmaceutical companies, and her second term was marked by US-style copyright extremism in the form of legislative proposals and reports that mirror the worst of America's copyright laws, which have sparked a war between artists and their fans, criminalizing tens of millions of Americans.

Copyright scholar Michael Geist and his CIPPIC clinic at the University of Ottawa have has formulated a "copyright pledge" in which they call on law-makers who make copyright law to turn away any funding from the entertainment industry, to make it clear that their campaign funding does not influence their work in government.

In this video, shot by AccordionGuy, a geek who lives in her riding (district), Bulte is asked whether she will take the pledge, and she responds with bile, vowing not to allow "Michael Geist and his pro-user zealots, and Electronic Frontier Foundation members" to "intimidate her." Her entire response is an embarassment to her and her party, and it's must-see video for anyone going to the polls in Parkdale/High Park.

Bulte's last seat was carried by fewer than 9,000 3,500 votes. Read the rest

Online Rights Canada launches campaign against Hollywood's MP

Ren sez,

I wanted to let you know that (or "ORC"), a new Canadian grassroots collaboration between EFF and CIPPIC, just launched an online petition drive on Sam Bulte's copyright-for-cash scandal. People can voice their support for Michael Geist's "Copyright Pledge," which asks all politicians to swear off money from copyright lobbyists if they're involved in setting copyright policy. We've also got a pretty comprehensive backgrounder on the issue, including links to your coverage. Finally, we have some ways for people to get involved offline. For example, Bulte is going to be at two all-candidates meetings this week, and we'd love people to show up and ask all the candidates about taking the pledge. Even if they're not in that riding, attending all-candidates meetings and asking politicians to sign the pledge would be super-helpful.

Read the rest

EFF, CIPPIC co-launch Canadian cyber-rights group

Online Rights Canada is a new Canadian grassroots digital rights group, co-founded by EFF and CIPPIC, the excellent cyber-rights researchers at the University of Ottawa:

Online Rights Canada (ORC) is a grassroots organization that promotes the public's interest in technology and information policy. We believe that Canadians should have a voice in copyright law, access to information, freedom from censorship, and other issues that we face in the digital world. Join us by using the form on your right to sign up for email updates.

Link Read the rest