Archive for November, 2011

What is SOPA?


The Stop Online Piracy Act is a controversial U.S. bill now working its way through Congress. The proposed law is designed (in part) to knock-out foreign websites that are suspected of infringing intellectual property rights. By targetting foreign “rogue” websites and establishing new causes of action against website operators for copyright or trademark infringement, the legislation has raised concerns about ISP liability, and about  how it impacts the operation of the domain name system. SOPA permits the U.S. Attorney General to take action against a “foreign infringing site” such as a Canadian site, and obtain a court injunction against the site. Once an injunction is issued, the A.G. can serve a copy on a number of intermediaries, who must then take action within 5 days.

  • ISPs can be ordered to block access to the site by preventing DNS resolution.
  • Search engines can be ordered to block the site from search results. 
  • Payment networks such as PayPal can be ordered to suspend transactions between the site and U.S. customers.
  • Even ad networks can be ordered to stop serving ads on the site.

We will be monitoring the progress of this proposed IP law in the US.

Related Reading: Summary of SOPA, Concerns and Implications (PDF)

Calgary – 07:00 MST  

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Canada’s New Anti-Spam Legislation:


My recent article can be found here: Canada’s New Anti-Spam Legislation: How can it impact your business?

Related Reading: Canada’s “New” Anti-Spam Law


Calgary – 07:00 MST

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Coming to terms with online copyright


My article Coming to terms with online copyright is published in the November 25, 2011 issue of the Lawyers Weekly. It reviews a recent decision of the B.C. Supreme Court in Century 21 Canada Ltd. Partnership v. Rogers Communications Inc. , [2011] B.C.J. No. 1679. The decision reviews the current state of the law in Canada on the topics of online contracting and copyright, and even the question of whether unauthorized access to a website constitutes trespass.

Calgary – 07:00 MST



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Who Owns Social Media Contacts: Employers or Employees?


This post is the first in our 3-part employment law series.  Recent cases have again focused the spotlight on this vexing issue: when an employee leaves, do they take their social media contacts with them, or check them at the door?  Once upon a time, social media was something that employers asked you not to do while on the job. Now, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram feeds are not just idle time-burners, they might be part of your job description. In the UK case of Hays Specialist Recruitment (Holdings) Ltd. v. Ions, an employee was ordered to disclose his LinkedIn contacts when he left his employer, and a 2011 case in the US (PhoneDog v. Kravitz, 2011 WL 5415612 (N.D. Ca.; Nov. 8, 2011)) is grappling with this issue, where an employer claims $340,000 in damages from an ex-employee.  Lessons for business?

  • Check your own employment policies to see whether this is covered, and if not, consider introducing effective policies to manage social media issues;
  • Employees who are hired specifically for social media marketing are the obvious ones to look at, but salespeople, managers or executives should also be considered;
  • Theft of trade-secrets is often claimed, but commonly fails on the grounds that the social media contacts are often available for all to see.

Calgary – 07:00 MST

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Copying Without Permission


   copying without permission is stealing / thief

For more, see Calgary – 07:00 MST 

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SDKs and APIs: Do they have copyright protection?


A simmering IP infringement case between Oracle and Google raises some fascinating copyright issues for software: what scope of protection is given to functional elements in an SDK (software development kit) or an API (application programming interface)? The case of ORACLE AMERICA, INC. v. GOOGLE INC. (Case No. 3:10-cv-03561-WHA) is in pre-trial contortions, with the trial currently slated for 2012. None of this has been decided in court, it merely focusses attention on a very narrow issue of copyright protection for certain elements of software code (there is a patent infringement claim on the table as well).  Oracle alleges that Google infringed copyright in Java code when it built the Android software platform. Specifically, Oracle complains that Google copied design specifications of some 37 APIs for Java libraries, as well as Java source code, object code and comments in 12 software files. In its defence, Google claims that the APIs are purely functional elements and are not eligible for copyright protection. Will this threaten Android ? Likely not. Google has articulated a compelling argument that there is no copyright in the Java APIs (see here (PDF)), but if the court disagrees and finds either copyright or patent infringement, it will merely trigger a damages calculations, and millions of dollars in royalty payments, not a death-knell for Android.

In Canada, the law is clear (see Delrina Corporation v. Triolet Systems Inc., a 2002 Ontario Court of Appeal decision) computer programming that is dictated by the operating system or reflects common programming practices is not original expression and will not receive copyright protection.  In the meantime, we will watch the Oracle vs. Google case to see if it goes to trial before the parties can reach settlement.

Further Reading including Google and Oracle Trial Briefs.

Calgary – 07:00 MST

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StartUp Calgary


Their December 1st Launch Party is just a few weeks away: Get tickets here. It’s an annual event for enterprising Calgary technology companies to spend a moment in the spotlight and get support and recognition from the tech community.

Calgary – 07:00

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Canada’s “New” Anti-Spam Law

As we reported last January ( Intellectual Property Law in 2011) Canada passed an Anti-Spam Law in December 2010 with the unwieldly title of “An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act” (… guaranteed to trip up Twitter character limits).

The Anti-Spam Law, getting ready to celebrate its one-year birthday, is not yet in force.  It’s in a bureaucratic holding pattern as the regulations are drafted and redrafted. What this means in practice is that the government is navigating through the demands of various business and industry groups, all of whom want to avoid being saddled with high implementation costs. The law is not expected to take effect until 2012. Stay tuned.

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

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Cloud Computing in Calgary


I attended and spoke at the 3rd Cloud Computing conference today, and here are a few points to take-home:

  • Pay attention to governing law clauses (which law applies) and dispute resolution procedures (how do we resolve disputes), particularly for cloud service providers whose customers are worldwide;
  • Limitations of liability in the context of the “public cloud” are critical. These clauses can be upheld if drafted clearly and carefully, but they will be struck down if they are unclear, or if there are overriding public policy reasons. 
  • If you are a cloud-service user, and your use of cloud services involves the hosting of personal information (for example, information of your own end-customers), consider this: if one of those customers withdraws consent to the use of his or her personal information, do you have a protocol in place to track that withdrawal back through the cloud service provider, to the host who may be holding the data?


For a copy of my paper, please email me.

Calgary – 12:30 MDT

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