Topic - Internet law basics

Tour the interwebz with a lawyer as your guide

It may take a while

As the summer winds down, we’ve been feeling kind of philosophical. What does it all mean, and all that. As a practicing lawyer, I tend to focus on the little picture. We’ve got a problem, it relates to one thing, we try to solve it. FOCUS, dammit. That translates to the way I’ve written here at AM.com. A new piece of legislation passes, an interesting court case comes out, some government body releases a report, and we write about the minute details of a very small slice of law and the internet. We’ve never really looked at the big picture and the big issues. Until now.

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Posted in: Commentary, Internet law basics
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Some thoughts on online defamation because apparently I am an expert now

pssstt....If you have read the news in the last couple of weeks, or turned on CBC radio, or listened to talk radio, you may have read some quotes from me or heard the dulcet tones of my voice. I have been media whoring like, well, a media whore. Last week it was the Brian Burke lawsuit. This week it was the sad story of the British Columbia teacher who was totally screwed by his ex-girlfriend online and is still suffering for it. These cases have brought to light the messy ugly side of the internet. Or as some people have argued, a terrible overreaction in the Brian Burke case. Let’s use these cases to talk about online defamation, what you should know about it, and the effects on you as both a potential plaintiff and defendant, you cocksucking whore (see what i did there?).

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Posted in: Defamation, Internet law basics
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P0rn! Star Trek!

Now that I have your attention…

These are the slides for a presentation I gave last Thursday to the cool kids at the Intellectual Property, Information Technology and Policy Club of McGill’s Faculty of Law, which I thought you might enjoy. It really has porn and Star Trek in it! Unfortunately you don’t get the awesome banter I am famous for, but it’s still a fun presentation nonetheless. Did I mention Star Trek? And porn?

As Scribd converts documents to PDFs when you upload, the YouTube videos in the presentation are unplayable from the slides. Here they are, in order:

Rhymin’ and Stealin’ Slide 6

Mister Worf, Fire the Mashups Slide 18

Oh, Pretty Woman Slide 24

Pretty Woman Slide 24

Just one more vid Slide 31

For the tl;dr crowd, here’s the conclusion of the presentation: you can be creative online, but you better not be a pirate and make any $$$ doing it.

Posted in: Internet law basics
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Farewell Bill C-30, we hardly knew ye

better luck next time Vic

Greetings, internet denizens! Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I think the internet took the month of January off, so there was really no news to report. But yesterday, there was good news! The Conservative government has decided to kill Bill C-30, the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, or as we liked to call it around here, the Vic Toews is an Idiot Act.

We wrote quite a bit about C-30 and its various nefarious schemes. Suffice it to say, when a Federal Minister says things like “you are either for this bill or you are a child molester” (I’m paraphrasing, but not by much) there is going to be some media attention. The internet exploded with rage (as it is wont to do) at the bill last February, and the government seemed shamed somewhat. Yesterday’s announcement was too long in coming yet welcome, and was an obvious reminder that people who actually know about the internet (i.e. me) must be listened to.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, in describing what changes the future might hold, said yesterday that amendments or modernization of Canadian law:

“will not contain …warrantless mandatory disclosure of basic subscriber information or the requirement for telecommunications service providers to build intercept capability within their systems.”

Let’s just leave that here for posterity to remind the government of its position on this, if when they bring up “lawful access legislation” again.

Posted in: Internet law basics, Privacy
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“Lawful” Access Shenanigans!

Vic vic vic [sigh]It’s been my dream to use the word “shenanigans” in a blog post for a long time. I really love the word; it’s got such a nice old-timey feel to it. So what would you call a bunch of ISPs, telecom companies, and industry groups getting together with the government in secret before the introduction of Vic Toews’ old friend, Bill C-30, The Catching Sexual Predators / Internet Spying / “Lawful” Access Bill? You are correct, sir. SHENANIGANS.

So Michael Geist (or more likely his army of students) did some yeoman’s work in filing an Access to Information request. They hit the motherload. Let Mr. Geist explain what they found:

in the months leading up to the introduction Bill C-30, Canada’s telecom companies worked actively with government officials to identify key issues and to develop a secret Industry – Government Collaborative Forum on Lawful Access.

Lovely! So in January 2012, a bunch of industry types and government reps sat down for a meeting. All the big boys were there – Rogers, Bell, Vidéotron. After some coffee and delicious muffins (or so I assume, maybe they were danishes), they sat around and figured out how to fuck over their subscribers at the government’s request. Fun! Just so you know they were serious:

representatives have been granted Government of Canada Secret level security clearance and signed non-disclosure agreements

So we’ve got the country’s oligopolisitic media / telecom companies and the government colluding in secret to try to pass legislation no one in the public wants. Just another day at the office.

Posted in: Internet law basics, Privacy, Regulatory regime in Canada
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“Happy” 4/20: Weed, the internet, and the law

Gotta love Willie!Whoa, duuuuude. It’s, like, 4/20 today. While you’re out there joining Willie and Woody and all our weed heroes celebrating, I’m here to like, totally bum you out man. Better turn on some Bob Marley or something while you read about all the ways you can get into trouble at the crossroads where weed and the internet meet.

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Posted in: Internet law basics
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Everything about Bill C-30 Vic Toews doesn’t want you to know

Check @Vikileaks30So, Bill C-30. Man that shit really blew up last week, didn’t it? It was such a disaster, respectable news organizations like CTV Montreal have turned to your barely respectable blogger for an interview today on the noon news (update – check the video player on the right at montreal.ctv.ca and click on Newsmaker: Allen Mendelsohn for the vid). Want a preview of what I am going to say? Join me for a tour through the Bill after the jump.

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Posted in: Internet law basics
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Hot Parliamentary action this week

It looks so civilisedHoo boy, big week for internet law in Canada, in the House of Commons. Two important things are happening / have happened:

1. Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act that I’ve written so much about, passed second reading and was sent off to Committee. As there was never a Canadian Schoolhouse Rock, you probably don’t know how a bill becomes law in this country. Here’s the process. The point is that C-11 is one step closer to law, and the Conservatives are making good on their promise / threat to get this done with as little further discussion and debate as possible.

2. Today, the government introduced Bill C-30 to the House, with the official title of the  Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts. You may hear it referred to as “lawful access legislation.” You may also hear it referred to as “internet surveillance” or “online spying” legislation. Ominous! And it is. Basically it will allow the police to get customer info from ISPs and telephone companies without a warrant. Oh, and also force the ISPs to install technology that will let the cops monitor online activities in real time. The government says if you are against that kind of thing, you are pro child-porn. Well that’s a little harsh.

I’m going to actually read C-30 and will prepare a more detailed post about it in the coming days. In the meantime, Geist has a good primer, and here’s the Parliament page about it. Let’s all not jump to conclusions. I am sure internet surveillance in real time can’t be that bad, can it?

EDIT: This post has been edited to reflect the correct name and number of the second piece of legislation, Bill C-30. In fact, I was looking at an older version of the bill that did roughly the same thing. It was misreported in the first story I had linked to, but that link has now been updated as well. I sincerely regret the error and apologize to my 3 readers.

Posted in: Copyright, Internet law basics
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