The Centre for Law, Technology and Society is delighted to announce that CLTS Faculty member Jeremy De Beer released Consumer-related Copyright Issues on the Internet of Things: A study of connected objects available to Canadian consumers, a report for the Office of Consumer Affairs co-written with Jules Bélanger and Mohit Sethi which sheds light on the implications of copyright policy on Canadian consumers.
Released by the Office of Consumer Affairs at Innovation, Sciences and Economic Development Canada, the study gathers relevant findings from the analysis of legal documentation, such as end-user license agreements, from a sample of connected Internet of Things (IoT) products, and highlight issues that could impact Canadian consumers in the years to come. The report identifies a number of copyright-related restrictions and brings to light several issues beyond copyright that merit consideration, such as competition, data portability, and privacy. The report concludes with a number of public policy recommendations regarding those issues.
The report’s analysis identifies copyright-related restrictions and brings to light issues beyond copyright that merit consideration in the context of a review of copyright law and policy. First, the researchers find that even obtaining legal information on smart products, including software license restrictions and other copyright limitations, is a difficult and time-consuming exercise. Second, the analysis of business models shows interoperability of platforms within an ecosystem of third-party devices and applications, but restrictions that limit interoperability across ecosystems. Third, terms and conditions of consumer use of smart devices in the report’s sample are set up to allow for the collection and transfer of personal data, often sensitive data, in addition to all data collected by the companies from other sources such as social media. Fourth, the study shows that software licensing is now common practice among smart device manufacturers.
Based on these findings, the report proposes four primary recommendations to the government in order for it to address the issues of accessibility of legal information, data portability, interoperability of systems, and competition. These recommendations include:
Promoting labeling standards to help consumers locate and understand the terms on which they acquire and use IoT products and services;
Supporting open standards and protocols to facilitate interoperability across platforms;
Integrating data portability and related issues with ongoing discussions about not only copyright reform but also reforms to privacy laws and other digital rights; and
Taking seriously the relevant recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee for revision to the Copyright Act.
The report is also available in French.
Professor Jeremy De Beer is a Faculty member at the Centre for Law, Technology and Society and Full Professor at the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa. He co-leads the Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) Network.