Mar 202017

[Originally posted on, (CC-BY) Link] Last month, I traveled to Australia and New Zealand as part of a group of experts to discuss copyright fair use and fair dealing. The trip included several public talks, meetings with government officials, a book launch on Reimagining Copyright, and the chance to discuss copyright policy directly with publishers, educators, and librarians. Videos of some of the panels are available online, including a New Zealand forum on copyright and innovation and a panel on comparative copyright limitations and exceptions at the Australian Digital Alliance annual conference. Continue reading »

Mar 192017

NAFTA dispute panel arbitrators are reported to have issued a decision in the dispute brought by Eli Lilly against the government of Canada, though the decision has not been made public yet. Lilly had alleged that Canada’s patentability requirements had an overly high standard of what was considered ‘useful’, causing it to lose patent cases, and that this had violated NAFTA’s requirement that each country grant patents on inventions  that “are new, result from an inventive step and are capable of industrial application.”  Continue reading »

Oct 112016

michael-geist[, Link (CC-BY)] Last week, I appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as part of its study on the future of media. The committee has heard from dozens of witnesses and one of the surprising themes has been the emphasis on copyright reform as a potential solution to the newspaper industry’s woes. My opening remarks, which are posted below, warn against the reforms, including the prospect of new taxes on Internet services or linking as a source of revenue for the industry. Instead, I point to several potential policies including an ad-free online CBC, sales taxes for digital services, and non-profit funding models for investigative journalism. Continue reading »

Jun 242016

michael-geist[Reposted from, Link (CC-BY)] In recent weeks, there has been some media coverage claiming that Canadian educational materials are disappearing in the face of copyright fair dealing rules. For example, several weeks ago, Globe and Mail writer Kate Taylor wrote a column on copyright featuring the incendiary headline that “Kids Will Suffer if Canada’s Copyright Legislation Doesn’t Change.” This week, the CBC provided coverage of a writer’s conference panel with a piece titled “Copyright-free material edging out Canadian texts” that speaks of sales falling off a cliff. Continue reading »

Mar 162016

michael-geist[Reposted from, Link (CC-BY)] The role of copyright within the Canadian education system has emerged as a contentious issue in recent years as the Internet and digital technologies have transformed how schools provide students with access to materials. At the centre of the fight are a series of Supreme Court of Canada rulings that establish the boundaries of “fair dealing”,  which permits copying of reasonable portions of materials without the need for permission or further compensation.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that last month, the Copyright Board of Canada issued a landmark decision on copying practices in primary and secondary schools, largely affirming the approach adopted by educational institutions. As a result, Access Copyright, the copyright collective that represents publishers and authors, will collect far less for in-school copying than it originally demanded. Continue reading »

Feb 222016

canada[Posted on, Link (CC-BY)] In the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2012 copyright pentalogy that strongly affirmed the importance of user’s rights and the need for a broad, liberal interpretation for fair dealing, Access Copyright insisted that the decisions did not mean what they said. While educational groups developed reasonable fair dealing guidelines based on the decisions (along with earlier decisions such as the CCH case and the inclusion of education within the fair dealing purposes in 2012 reforms), Access Copyright argued that the copying required its licence and that fair dealing guidelines based on general percentages could not be used. Continue reading »

Nov 132015

canadaLetter sent to Canadian officials by Richard Elliot on behalf of ten civil society organizations.

…We write to you as Canadian civil society organizations concerned about access to medicines, in Canada and globally. A number of us are members of the Global Treatment Access Group (GTAG), a working group bringing together various Canadian organizations advocating for greater access to medicines, and other aspects of the human right to the highest attainable standard of health, in developing countries…. We write to you to express our deep concerns with numerous provisions included in the intellectual property, pharmaceutical pricing and investment chapters of the Trans‐Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP).

Click here for the full letter.

Nov 142014
Photo by Ito (CC-BY-2.0)

Photo by Ito (CC-BY-2.0)

I recently served on an expert panel convened by the Royal Society of Canada to do a report on the future of libraries and archives in the country.  That report has now been published – The Future Now: Canada’s Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory.  It’s gotten press coverage so far from the Ottawa Citizen and Quill and Quire.

The report explores how libraries and archives can best adopt to changing digital technologies and cultural practices. An excerpt from the executive summary, discussing the outcomes of the expert panel’s consultations, and offering specific recommendations, follows: Continue reading »

Sep 022014

michael-geist[Reposted from, Link (CC-BY)]  Last year, the federal government trumpeted anti-counterfeiting legislation as a key priority. The bill raced through the legislative process in the winter and following some minor modifications after committee hearings, seemed set to pass through the House of Commons. Yet after committee approval, the bill suddenly stalled with little movement throughout the spring.

Why did a legislative priority with all-party approval seemingly grind to a halt? Continue reading »

Jun 132014

michael-geist[Post on, Link, (CC-BY)]  Canada and South Korea announced agreement on a comprehensive trade agreement earlier today. The focus is understandably on tariff issues, but the agreement also contains a full chapter on intellectual property (note that the governments have only released summaries of the agreement, not the full text, which is still being drafted). The IP chapter is significant for what it does not include. Unlike many other trade deals – particularly those involving the U.S., European Union, and Australia – the Canada-South Korea deal is content to leave domestic intellectual property rules largely untouched. The approach is to reaffirm the importance of intellectual property and ensure that both countries meet their international obligations, but not to use trade agreements as a backdoor mechanism to increase IP protections. Continue reading »

May 022014

Palmedo300x300On April 30, the United States Trade Representative released the 2014 Special 301 Report, which fulfills its mandate under the Trade Act (19 U.S.C. § 2242) to identify countries that “deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, or deny fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property protection.”  The report is based partially on input including the public comments and hearing statements that are available on, and partially on other inputs such as meetings with other government agencies.  Below are six observations: Continue reading »

Apr 302014

Peter Maybarduk with his guitarThe Office of the US Trade Representative’s 2014 Special 301 Report is expected out shortly.  The 301 Report places countries on a watch list for practices the US Government believes reflect “inadequate” intellectual property protection, even when these policies protect important public interests including health.

Public Citizen submitted comments in February to inform this year’s 301 Report. We address the TRIPS compliance and public interest value of specific rules and practices in India, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Peru, Philippines and Turkey. We also criticize 301 – the process should be discontinued entirely – and articulate several principles which could be applied to make meaningful the US Government’s relevant public health commitments, by not listing countries for public interest practices that comply with international rules. Continue reading »