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Technology law column by Michael Geist

Copyright Delay Demonstrates the Power of Facebook

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If 2006 was the year of YouTube, 2007 has been Facebook's year.  The growth of social media, led by Facebook, has taken the world by storm.  Since January, Facebook has added 250,000 new users each day.  Canadians have led the way, accounting for about 8 million of the site's nearly 60 million global users.  

The hyper-growth does not tell the whole story, however.  Facebook has also garnered considerable attention regarding its user privacy policies, online marketing strategies, and the short-sighted decision of some companies and governments to block employee access to the site.

How the Next Billion Will Reshape the Internet

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Last month hundreds of people descended on Rio de Janiero, Brazil, for the second annual Internet Governance Forum.  Sponsored by the United Nations, the IGF attracted politicians, business leaders, technologists, civil society representatives, and others interested in the global issues facing the Internet.  

Ten Questions for Industry Minister Prentice

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In anticipation of the forthcoming copyright bill, the CBC Radio program Search Engine recently conducted an innovative experiment by asking its listeners to post questions about the bill for Industry Minister Jim Prentice.  What followed was remarkable - the program received hundreds of questions from Canadians from coast to coast.  Although Prentice refused to appear on the program, the public outcry demonstrates that there remain many doubts about government policy in this highly contentious issue.

Cellphone Spectrum Set-Aside Simply Step One

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Following months of intense telecom lobbying, Industry Minister Jim Prentice took to the podium last week at a Toronto hotel and unveiled the government's policy on the forthcoming spectrum auction.  Dismissing misleading claims of government subsidies, Prentice pointed to the one fact that is obvious to millions of Canadian cellphone owners – the Canadian market is sorely lacking in competition, leaving consumers paying too much for too little.

Private Email Not Always Hush Hush

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This past September, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency launched "Operation Raw Deal", an initiative that targeted people purchasing raw steroid materials through the Internet from China and repackaging the steroids as drugs for domestic sale.  Tyler Strumbo, a 23-year old California resident, was among the 124 people arrested.  

All I Want For Christmas is a Legal TiVo

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Michael Powell, the former Chair of the United States Federal Communications Commission, received his first TiVo, a popular personal video recorder (PVR), as a Christmas gift in 2002.  Within days, Powell gushed that the TiVo was "God's machine," predicting that it would have a transformative effect on how consumers watch television by allowing them to easily record programs, pause shows in real time, and quickly skip through unwanted commercials.

Canada's Digital Info Strategy Stuck in an Analog World

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In today's technological world, most content is "born digital," yet there remains a rich history of books, music, film, photos, and other works in analog form.  Since people increasingly have access solely to digital content, policy makers must confront the challenge of how to bring all of our culture and historical knowledge into the digital realm.

Politics Trumps Policy as Copyright Bill Approaches

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The annual Canadian Music Week celebration in Toronto is still several months away, but last week Ottawa staged its own version of the event.  Two federal departments - Statistics Canada and Industry Canada - released bombshell studies that could influence forthcoming copyright reforms since they contradict the conventional wisdom about the economic state of the recording industry and the impact of Internet file sharing.

How the Internet On Cable Became the Internet as Cable

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When Rogers Communications began promoting its Rogers@Home high-speed Internet service nearly a decade ago, the company branded it "the Internet on Cable."  Years later, their service, as well as those of their competitors, is gradually morphing into "the Internet as Cable" as broadcasters, Internet service providers, and cultural groups steadily move toward the delivery of content online that bears a striking resemblance to the conventional cable model.

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