Friday, June 5, 2015

Mother Of Infringements

The Canadian Telecom Summit describes itself as "deliver[ing] thought provoking presentations from the prime movers of the industry...[in a] a structured atmosphere of frank discussion and high octane idea exchange".  Apparently, such frank discussion can include calling j'accuse on alleged copyright infringement by one's own children.  In a keynote address she delivered at the Summit on June 3, 2015, Bell Media President Mary Ann Turcke is reported to have called out her 15-year old daughter for using a virtual private network ("VPN") to watch Netflix' U.S. programming rather than settling for what Netflix Canada offers.  This, Turcke declared, was "stealing".

Not so fast, says Professor Michael Geist, a copyright law expert at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.  In an article in the Toronto Star newspaper, Geist questions whether using a VPN to access Netflix' U.S. version of its streaming video content is, in fact, theft.  He notes that such actions might constitute breach of contract or possibly violate Canadian anticircumvention law, but considers "arguments that the subscribers [who access Netflix U.S. via VPN] violate copyright law are very weak". 

One thing is almost a certainty:  any teenager whose parent tattles on her in a public speech will feel very strongly (to euphemize) that her rights to privacy have been egregiously infringed.