Bank of Canada lawyers in a vulgar email said media deserve a “kick in the knackers” on copyright. MPs and senators this year undertake a statutory review of the Copyright Act for the first time since 2012.
A partner at the Bank’s law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP of Ottawa wrote the December 22, 2016 email to government attorneys following a cost award against Blacklock’s Reporter in a Federal Court copyright case. The Department of Justice recently released the email under Access To Information.
“WOW! Very well done…” said the redacted note; “A wonder kick in the knackers for Blacklock’s.” The name of the Bank lawyer who sent the message is censored.
Blacklock’s earlier filed a copyright claim against the Bank for sharing password-protected news stories without permission or licensing fee. Evidence submitted to Federal Court shows Bank employees bought a single $157 password, then copied stories to more than 100 staff in 2013 and 2014 as well as the Royal Canadian Mint.
The Bank at the time collected $1.24 million in licensing fees on its own copyrights in the period from 2011 to 2015, according to an Inquiry Of Ministry tabled in the Commons. The Mint’s copyright license revenues over the same period totaled $1.23 million.
Parliament last revised the Copyright Act five years ago with amendments to “update the rights and protections of copyright owners to better address the challenges and opportunities of the internet”, according to a preamble to the Copyright Modernization Act. Changes included provisions for “technological protection measures” like passwords.
“Respect for intellectual property is absolutely non-negotiable,” Senator Réne Cormier (Independent-N.B.) earlier told the Senate. “The same must be true for the integrity of creative works. That is why this chamber will need to pay close attention to the review of the Copyright Act coming this fall.”
“Although Canada has important legislation on copyright and the status of artists, Canadian creators face many challenges when it comes to respect for their work,” said Senator Cormier.
Blacklock’s has filed copyright suits against several federal departments and agencies for knowingly sharing passwords and copying works without permission or licensing fees. The Department of Justice in Court filings claimed federal employees have a right to copy thousands of password-protected works without permission in the name of media monitoring.
“There was no profit involved in the sharing of these articles,” federal attorneys wrote in a statement of defence on behalf of Health Canada. “Articles were shared for a non-commercial research and review purpose.”
Health Canada in the period from 2013 to 2016 copied Blacklock’s stories to more than 1,000 employees after buying online passwords for as little as $148. The department at the time spent $289,000 for media monitoring licenses.