Database dispute goes on

DAVID CANTON – For the London Free Press – November 13, 2004

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The Ontario Court of Appeal recently decided newspapers cannot put articles on their on-line versions that freelance writers wrote for them without the writer’s permission.

The decision involved the Globe and Mail newspaper and Heather Robertson, a freelance writer. Most current contracts between freelances and newspapers address the right of the newspaper to post articles in on-line versions, but older agreements didn’t.

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Proposed Copyright Reforms Lack Balance

A Globe and Mail article says “Ottawa is about to blunder in cyberspace, lawyers and academics warn.”

Canada is considering reform of its copyright laws. The standing committee on Canadian Heritage has just submitted a report that copyright experts are denouncing as being balanced far too much in favour of creators of material. The proposed reforms, if passed, would affect anyone who has a photo taken of their children, or anyone who surfs the net.

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WTO releases report finding the United States restrictions on online gambling in violation of GATS

The World Trade Organization released its report in which it concluded that U.S. restrictions on on-line offshore Internet gambing violated international trade agreements. The complaint was launched by the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, which claims to have suffered losses to its economy because of the restrictions. The United States will of course appeal. news report

WTO decision

Can Canadian cultural, broadcast, and telecommunications policies survive in the age of the Internet?

In an article in the Toronto Star, Professor Michael Geist finds a common thread among several recent Canadian matters – including satellite radio hearings, VOIP hearings, a recent Quebec court ruling that some regulations against gray market satellite TV are unconstitutional, the music downloading litigation, and copyright reform.

That common thread is that the cultural policies that Canada imposes on these matters are not working. The article questions whether Canadian cultural, broadcast, and telecommunications policies (at least in their current form) can survive in the age of the Internet.

To read the article

E-mail poses privacy problems

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By DAVID CANTON — London Free Press – November 6 2004

E-mail has revolutionized our workplaces, made workers more efficient and freed us from our desks. But this same communication technology also poses particular privacy risks that need to be carefully considered to minimize accidental disclosure of personal information.

A recent decision by the privacy commissioner of Canada is an example of that risk.

Letters sent by traditional mail can be addressed incorrectly, but e-mail takes the risk of privacy infringement to a whole new level. It’s easy enough to do, as anyone who has accidentally clicked on the “reply to all” button can attest.

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Canada and e-voting published an article yesterday saying that Canada is unlikey to imitate U.S. e-voting efforts. It has an interesting discussion about some Canadian municipalties that have experimented with electronic voting. The article suggests e-voting through various means – not just voting machines – may be adopted more quickly for municipal elections because the ballots are more complex.

Read the article.

B.C Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis releases report: “Privacy and the USA Patriot Act”

The privacy community has been anticipating the release of this report. The US Patriot Act (among others) allows US authorities to see personal information of Canadian individuals if that information is in the possession of US companies, or Canadian subsidiaries of US companies. Given the trend to outsource IT resources, this is not just theoretical. Any Canadian business that engages others to provide data processing or storage should consider this issue.

Link to summary

Link to full report

Electronic voting debated

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DAVID CANTON, For the London Free Press – October 30 2004

As the United States presidential election nears, the issue of technology and voting has been under debate.

Electronic voting alleviates the need for the traditional paper ballot to be marked and counted during election day — but is not universally trusted.

In Canada, we continue to rely on the paper-based voting system, while Americans are embracing technology to reform their voting system.

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OSS users must read fine print

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DAVID CANTON, For the London Free Press – October 23 2004

Open source software is becoming a popular option. Open source software (OSS) is software where the source code — or human readable code — is readily available, such as Linux.

Many are under the misconception that one must make public any new source code one creates that is in related to open source software.

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