Canada: @ Gowlings – May 2006

Last Updated: May 31 2006

Edited by Louis R. Benoit


  • California To Test Delivery Of Broadband Internet Over Power Lines
  • Beatles Lose Trade-Mark Battle With Apple Computer
  • Artists Seeking More Digital Music Royalties
  • CRTC Told To Rethink Voice Over IP Ruling
  • EU Draft Law Calls For Jail Time For Counterfeiting
  • BPI Calls For Legalization Of Personal Music Copying
  • U.S. Courts Cracking Down On Spyware Operators
  • E-Mail Spammer Could Face 5 Years In Prison
  • French President Hopes To Create Google Rival

California To Test Delivery Of Broadband Internet Over Power Lines

The California Public Utilities Commission approved a plan allowing Internet service providers to test the delivery of Internet services over power lines throughout the state. According to the Commission, broadband over power lines, or BPL, could become a new competitor to Internet services delivered via telephone, cable or satellites and help reduce prices for consumers. BPL technology could also facilitate the development of smart grid applications to monitor and manage the distribution of electricity for utility companies. Trials of the service are already underway in Texas and Ohio with the privately-owned BPL provider, Current Communications Group.

More information available at:

Beatles Lose Trade-Mark Battle With Apple Computer

The Beatles' music label, Apple Corps, sued its rival, Apple Computer, claiming that Apple Computer broke a deal between the two companies designed to ensure that there would not be two Apples in the music industry. The deal was first struck in 1981 and amended in 1991 to prohibit the computer company from distributing music on physical media such as tapes or CDs. The dispute arose in light of Apple Computer's use of the Apple name and logo in conjunction with iPod digital music players and iTunes online digital music distribution store.

The Beatles' label wanted the High Court in London to award damages and stop its rival from using the Apple logo with its music operations. Apple computer argued that it wasn't violating the 1991 agreement because it was not the original source of the content available on iTunes. Justice Mann agreed, ruling that the computer company used the Apple logo in association with its store, and not the music, and thus was not in breach. Justice Mann stated that the agreement permits Apple Computer to use its mark on a service delivering music content and that the mark does not suggest a relevant connection with the creative work. The ruling means that Apple Computer can continue to operate its iTunes music store in the UK using its name and logo. Apple Corps plans on appealing the decision.

More information available at:

Artists Seeking More Digital Music Royalties

The Allman Brothers Band and Cheap Trick filed suit against Sony BMG in a U.S. District Court in New York, claiming that a higher percentage of royalties from digital music downloads should go to the artists themselves and that the terms of their royalty payments should reflect the new reality of digital music. Currently, the two bands receive less than 5%, or 4.5 cents, of the download price of a song. The bands say digital music should be treated as licensing rather than sales and they are seeking half of the net licensing revenues from each song, or about 30 cents for each download.

The bands are seeking to have the suit deemed a class action, which would extend it to cover all artists signed by Sony between 1962 and 2002. If the class is certified, the case could become a flashpoint for how digital revenues are defined and divided, with iTunes, Napster and other digital download distributors caught in the cross fire between artists and their record labels. The potential monetary fallout from the decision, both in terms of past payouts and changes in the economics of the business going forward, could be significant.

More information available at:

CRTC Told To Rethink Voice Over IP Ruling

After a careful study of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ("CRTC") decision and appeals, the Industry Minister Maxime Bernier has told the CRTC to review their decision barring major phone companies from setting their own prices for Internet phone services. This signals the government's desire to cut the amount of regulation governing Canada's telecommunications sector and may lead to more price competition.

The CRTC decision, released a year ago, held that Internet phone services should be subject to the same regulations as traditional phone services. Many phone companies appealed to the government to change the decision and they were ultimately successful. The Minister has given the CRTC 120 days to reconsider its decision stating that there has been both an increased demand for Voice over Internet Protocol ("VoIP") phone services and changes to the overall regulatory environment in the sector since the CRTC's ruling.

The move is likely to anger cable providers as they have put a major push on Internet phone services and they feel that the only reason the telephone companies are upset over the decision is because they want to engage in monopoly pricing. The telephone companies are satisfied with the decision in hopes that it will signal the end of economic regulation of VoIP services.

More information available at:

EU Draft Law Calls For Jail Time For Counterfeiting

Between 1998 and 2004, the European Union ("EU") observed a 1000% increase in the number of seized counterfeited and pirated goods, many originating in China. In response to this increasing need to combat counterfeiting and piracy, along with the difficulties presented by non-harmonized criminal penalties among the twenty-five EU member states, the European Commission has decided to adopt uniform sanctions among all of its members. The proposed penalty is a minimum of four years in prison, and a $372,700 fine, for intellectual property infringements on a commercial scale. The sanctions will not apply to Internet piracy for private use. EU member states who do not adopt the harmonized sanctions into their domestic law could themselves face legal penalties.

More Information available at:

BPI Calls For Legalization Of Personal Music Copying

Consumers in Britain may soon be able to copy music without fear of prosecution. The BPI, the body that represents British record companies, will recommend to the government that copyrights on CD's and records be changed to allow copying for personal use. At present, it is illegal to copy a CD or transfer music to a personal computer for the purposes of downloading music to a personal player. The BPI currently pursues users of peer-to-peer file-sharing networks vigorously, but does not seek to relax enforcement against "pirates". The recommendation comes as Britain seeks to update its antiquated copyright protection laws.

More information available at:

U.S. Courts Cracking Down On Spyware Operators

Sanford Wallace was accused by the Federal Trade Commission of running an operation that infected computers with software that caused users to be bombarded with pop-up ads. The operation then tried to sell consumers software to stop the ads. A U.S. District Court in New Hampshire has ordered Wallace to give up $4 million in ill-gotten gains. Wallace claimed he was being unfairly targeted because of his past involvement in junk e-mail schemes. In the 1990s he headed a company that sent up to 30 million spam e-mails a day – earning him the title "Spam King". He left the company after it was sued by America Online and CompuServe. In a related case, the US government recently settled with Jared Lansky, who distributed ads containing Wallace's spyware. Lansky will give up $227,000 in ill-gotten gains.

More information available at:

E-Mail Spammer Could Face 5 Years In Prison

London's High Court has ruled that people who bombard victims with unsolicited "spam" e-mails are in the same league as people who spread computer viruses and can face up to five years in jail. The court ruled that an 18-year-old accused of sending five million e-mails to a firm which had fired him may be liable under the 1990 Computer Misuse Act. The judges agreed that computer users consent to being sent some e-mail, but that this consent clearly does not include e-mails sent to intentionally jam the receiving computer. They also ruled that the extent of this consent should be examined on a case-by-case basis.

More information available at:

French President Hopes To Create Google Rival

French President Jacques Chirac recently unveiled a plan to create a European search engine to rival Google and Yahoo!. This is one of a series of technological projects that President Chirac has undertaken in order to defend against a perceived global dominance by the United States, and he has announced that France will provide 2 billion euros in funding for this series of innovative projects. In his new year speech at the Elysée Palace, he spoke of the need to "take up the global challenge posed by Google and Yahoo!".

The new search engine will be named Quaero, which is Latin for "I search", and aims to be the first to efficiently sort through audio, video, and image files. It would be able to search the ever increasing number of video clips and podcasts available online, and deliver the information to computers and mobile phones. The budget for Quaero will be 450 million euros over 5 years, including 90 million euros in subsidies.

However, the plan has drawn some criticism from European commentators. A French satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, has mocked the project's funding, saying it is paltry in comparison with the funding that can be brought to bear by Microsoft or Google. Also, the chief executive of Autonomy, a Cambridge-based search software firm, wrote to the Financial Times calling the plan "a blatant case of misguided and unnecessary nationalism" and warning that by the time Quaero is developed the market will have moved on.

More information available at:,,1761482,00.html

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