Cyberattack targets Montreal health agency, forcing it to go offline Canadian Underwriter

MONTREAL – A Montreal health agency has been forced off-line as authorities deal with a cyberattack.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said Thursday that specific attacks hit systems at the regional health agency covering west-central Montreal, which oversees the Jewish General Hospital among other facilities.

“Our teams quickly realized that there had been these attacks, and to protect the population’s data, particularly hospital data, the decision was taken to shut down the systems,” Dube told a news conference in Quebec City.

A statement from the agency said that as a preventive measure, “internet connectivity as well as external and remote access to our networks have been suspended.”

Access to patients’ records and data has been limited as a result, the statement said. “Frontline services have been slowed down – but not interrupted – while the situation is under investigation.”

Dube said the attack was possibly part of a broader campaign, but he didn’t make a direct link with a series of attacks that have hit American hospitals this week.

A joint alert was issued in the U.S. Wednesday by the FBI and two other agencies, warning of a cybercrime threat aimed at hospitals and health-care providers in that country.

The warning said cybercriminals were hitting the U.S. health-care system with ransomware attacks designed to scramble hospital information systems that can only be unlocked with software keys once a ransom is paid.

Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, head of the health agency, told a press briefing Thursday that an “anomaly” was detected during a daily verification of the system which they determined was a “cybersecurity intrusion.”

Officials said it was caught quickly but they were still investigating the source and weren’t in a position to confirm or deny the attack was linked to the U.S. incidents.

There hasn’t been a ransom request, Rosenberg added.

“We are going through a fairly rigorous process of trying to get to the bottom of what we’ve found, eliminate it and get back online,” Rosenberg said, adding the work could take up to four days.

Steve Waterhouse, an internet security expert, said he…


Canadian Brewery Changes Name Of Brew Due To Peanut Butter Company Bully That Doesn’t Ship In Canada

We’ve been talking about the trademark crisis facing the craft brewing industry for some time. To recap, an industry explosion coupled with the habit of that industry to come up with creative and referential names for its products has collided with trademark attacks coming both from within and outside of the industry. The industry, which once had a quite permissive and fraternal approach to intellectual property, has since become corporatized. New entrants to the market, therefore, face challenges with how to name their craft beers without facing legal threats.

This is where it’s worth repeating that trademark law is chiefly designed to keep the public from being confused as to the source of affiliations of a good or service. In other words, the brand name of a product shouldn’t fool the public into thinking it came from somewhere it did not. That reality makes it quite frustrating to see Off Track Brewing agree to change the name of one of its signature brews due to threats issued by a peanut butter brand.

When the guys behind Off Track Brewing came up with a stout beer, using real peanut butter as the key ingredient, they needed a name.

“We were brainstorming one day, and Jon just said, ‘You know what, Damn Skippy, it’s just jumping out to me, it’d be a really good name,'” said Allan MacKay of Off Track Brewing in Bedford, N.S.

You already know what happened. Damn Skippy jumped in popularity, leading some to comment on the brew on social media. There, whatever legal team the Skippy peanut butter people had contracted with took notice and fired off a cease and desist notice to Off Track. It never got to the litigation level, as Off Track agreed to change the name of the brew. Normally, this is where our post would point out that the beer-buying public is certainly not going to confuse a creatively named peanut butter stout beer as having anything to do with Skippy brands, not to mention that the two products are in wildly different market arenas. All of which ought to have been sufficient to push back on the C&D and even for Off Track to have its day in court, if it wished.

But even if you don’t agree with my assessment above, exactly how much potential confusion in the buying public could there be when that same Canadian public can’t even buy Skippy peanut butter?

Even though Skippy peanut butter was discontinued in Canada two years ago — months before the brewery opened — the owners decided to give in after consulting their lawyer.

“We’re gonna switch it up, so it’s not a big loss,” said MacKay. “The beer stays the same, which is good.”

Part of the requirement to hold a valid trademark is that it be in use in the marketplace for commercial purposes. The Skippy people appear to very much be not using it in Canadian commerce. How, therefore, could there be any potential for customer confusion? And why, for the love of all that is peanut-buttery, did Skippy undertake this bullying to begin with?

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Canadian Committee Publishes Ludicrous Fantasy Pretending To Be Copyright Reform Analysis

Oh Canada. Not satisfied with a ridiculous plan to fine social media companies for ill-defined “fake news,” a Canadian Parliamentary Committee has come out with one of the most laughable copyright reform papers I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen some crazy ones. I’d post the whole report here, but the report itself warns that doing so might violate its copyright, and really, how could the Parliament be incentivized to create fantasy stories masquerading as copyright reform proposals without copyright?

Michael Geist provides the bizarre background on the origination of this report:

The Canadian government announced its plans for a copyright review in December 2017, tasking the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology with the review. That report has been in the drafting stage for several months and is expected before the summer. In an effort to dampen concerns that Canadian Heritage would play a diminished role in the review, the responsible ministers asked the Industry committee to ask the Heritage committee to conduct a review on remuneration models for artists and creative industries. The formal request asked the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to “call upon the expertise of a broad range of stakeholders impacted by copyright to ensure a holistic understanding of the issues at play.”

Rather than providing the recommendations directly to the Industry committee as requested, the Heritage committee and chair Julie Dabrusin, a Liberal MP, chose instead to release its full report today. The report, which utterly failed to comply with the request to call on a broad range of stakeholders, is the most one-sided Canadian copyright report issued in the past 15 years, largely mirroring the approach of the discredited 2004 Bulte report that was subsequently rejected by the government.

The report is crazier than even I expected upon hearing the details. It doesn’t even pretend that there might be some downsides to over-extending copyright law, or that there should be any exploration of the trade offs of various proposals at all. Instead, it insists that we NEED MORE COPYRIGHT in basically every possible place. As if to prove how laughable the entire report is… it actually recommends extending copyright terms — something that even American copyright maximalists have mostly given up on (and whom, in quiet, will admit that perhaps copyright terms are already too long). But, that view is not even suggested in Dabrusin’s dubious analysis of copyright. Indeed, the report admits that it didn’t talk to a single person who didn’t think extending copyright was a grand idea:

No witnesses expressed outright opposition to extending of the copyright term from 50 to 70 years after death.

If that’s the case, you, uh, did not speak to very many witnesses at all — and you certainly did not abide by your mandate to talk with a “broad range of stakeholders.” Incredibly, the report quotes a musician — uncritically — who is flat out admitting that she just wants more money for work she did in the past:

Artist Miranda Mulholland said that extending the copyright term would be a “legacy move” that would give artists like herself “the ability to leverage their success.”

Existing copyright law in Canada allows Mulholland and her heirs to “leverage her success” for 50 years past her death. And she wants more? Come on. And, remember, copyright is supposed to be about an incentive to create. If life+50 was good enough for her to create when she did, why should she get extra benefits (by taking away from the public domain) afterwards? That makes no sense at all. But the report reflects none of that.

The report is also laughably credulous about the debunked concept of the “value gap”, which is a meaningless phrase invented by the legacy record labels to mean “internet companies figured out how to innovate, while we just sued our best customers, and why aren’t they handing us more money?!?” But, according to this report, it’s a real problem that absolutely must be dealt with:

Witnesses from the creative industries spoke about a disparity between the value of creative content enjoyed by consumers and the revenues that are received by artists and creative industries. According to many witnesses, this disparity, which is known as the “value gap,” is growing.

According to Graham Henderson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Music Canada, the origins of the value gap extend back more than two decades. As creative industries shifted with the advent of the internet, copyright policy and protections became outdated and ineffective. Miranda Mulholland, artist and entrepreneur, aptly described, “the biggest reason for [the value gap] is that the laws in place today reflect a time of home phones, of scrunchies, and of buying a CD at a music store instead of today’s world of streaming.”

That’s silly. Canada went through major copyright reform in 2012. The idea that the laws reflect the 1980s is just silly. And wrong. So is the idea of a value gap.

The report falsely claims that there has been a “decline in the artistic middle class.” This is absolutely laughable. As we showed in our recent Sky Is Rising report, the internet has enabled a massive new artistic middle class by allowing them to go direct to fans, and not rely on a single gatekeeper. Instead, there are lots of tools to create, to reach new fans, and to make money — and all of the data suggests that’s happening. What’s telling is that nowhere in the report do they cite any actual statistics around this, but merely anecdotes. It’s incredible.

The entire report is based solely on anecdotes and quotes from legacy industry insiders, who might have just a wee bit of bias in telling the Canadian government that it needs to force internet companies to pay more. Not surprisingly, this report endorses the approach the EU has taken with its new copyright laws: put all the liability on the platforms. Again, there isn’t even an attempt to show why this might create problems or trade-offs — just quotes in support:

Another approach to combatting piracy that witnesses raised is to involve the intermediaries in content distribution such as Internet service providers (ISPs). Witnesses described different methods to do so. For the Association nationale des editeurs de livres, ISPs ought to “inform their subscribers about copyright” and “[withdraw] access from non-compliers.” For representatives from the music and the film and television industries, the courts ought to be allowed to force ISPs to block access to the websites that allow piracy.

To further curb illegal copying or streaming, it was suggested profiting from the theft and sharing of rights holders’ exclusive and copyrighted content on illegal streaming services be deemed a criminal offence.

Many witnesses also asked for modifications to the safe harbour provisions related to digital intermediaries and ISPs. The Committee heard that these provisions ought to be reviewed to ensure that these online services are held accountable for their role in diffusing content. The recommendation is linked to the theme of Canadian content previously discussed. Witnesses told the Committee that the Internet should not be seen as a set of “dumb pipes” and, rather, that ISPs “enjoy and greatly benefit from access to the music they give their clients.”

The whole report is an utter joke. It seems clear that it was written by someone who not only heard from one tiny set of views, but who is either woefully ignorant of the myriad views on copyright and its impact, or who purposefully tried to hide that. Either way, it makes this report not worthy of consideration by any legitimate legislative body.

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Canadian Billionaire Sues Twitter For Nasty Things Twitters Users Said About Him

A wealthy Canadian businessman dragged into the ridiculous “pizzagate” conspiracy theory — thanks to his ties to the Clinton Foundation — is suing Twitter for harming his reputation. The lawsuit filed by Frank Giustra doesn’t target the users posting these allegedly defamatory statements, but rather Twitter itself… as though Twitter were the publisher of the tweets, rather than just the platform carrying them.

Mr. Giustra’s civil claim argues that tweets that began around February, 2015, “vilified the plaintiff for political purposes in relation to the 2016 United States election,” attempting to discredit Mr. Giustra over his charitable work supporting the Clinton Foundation.

The five-page claim includes an appendix with the text of dozens of “false, defamatory, abusive and threatening tweets,” many of which, the claim reads, “Twitter has neglected or refused to remove.” Many tweets associate Mr. Giustra with the widely discredited “pizzagate” conspiracy theory that connected then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to a fictitious child-sex ring.

This sounds like the basis for some Canadian version of negligence, but a closer look at the claims shows Giustra is actually claiming Twitter itself is defaming and attacking him.

“The targeted attack on the plaintiff was part of an orchestrated campaign to discredit the plaintiff in part because of his charitable and philanthropic work in support of the Clinton Foundation,” the claim states. “Twitter began publishing a number of defamatory and malicious statements regarding the plaintiff.


Twitter also published threatening posts, the court documents state, including one that specified Giustra should be killed with “2 bullets to the back of his head.”

From this, it’s clear Giustra is trying to hold Twitter directly responsible for users’ tweets. This is being done despite Twitter taking action to remove some of the tweets Giustra reported to Twitter. This legal attack gets everything backwards, but presumably it won’t matter because it’s been filed in Canada, rather than in the United States.

Thanks to the Equustek decision — one that said Canadian court injunctions against American tech companies should be enforced worldwide — social media companies are much more inviting targets for aggrieved Canadians. Giustra can claim Twitter published these statements because Canadian courts are more than willing to erase the line between third parties and the platforms hosting user-generated content. If a Canadian ruling applies everywhere, Section 230 immunity is simply ignored.

Giustra and his legal representation have admitted Twitter isn’t the right target for this lawsuit — just the most convenient one.

Taking action against the dozens of individual users, Mr. [Frank] Kozak said, would require “endless litigation,” and not address future defamatory tweets. As such, he said, Mr. Giustra decided to take action against Twitter itself.

Will the court side with a plaintiff taking shortcuts to justice? Who the fuck knows? According to the recently-signed but not-yet-ratified NAFTA replacement, the USMCA, Canada is required to provide Section 230-like safe harbors to internet sites, but is permitted to do so via “application of existing legal doctrines as applied through judicial decisions” rather than the creation of new laws — but whether that will sway the court, or if a finding of liability here will simply signal that Canada does need new laws to comply with the agreement, remains to be seen.

And it will put Twitter in the impossible position of policing content when it doesn’t even know what exactly it’s looking for. Giustra also wants a permanent injunction blocking any tweets containing potential defamation of him or his work. How Twitter is supposed to accomplish this is anyone’s guess, but it won’t be Giustra or the court burdened with the logistical details.

Giustra’s lawyer claims this lawsuit isn’t intended to “censor thoughts, ideas, or expressions.” But it’s hard to see how targeting Twitter for things users posted will result in anything else.

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