Archive: August 1997 — Caught in the Copyright Act

Perhaps the government was putting off the inevitable, or maybe it just didn’t realize what it was leaving out when it updated the Canadian copyright law six years ago.

In August 1997, the industry

was discussing the possible ramifications of Bill 32, which was intended to “”modernize”” the Act and include technical, electronic or Web material and content.

According to experts were talked to at the time, however, the proposed changes weren’t well-directed.

“”I can say the bill is not directed towards the Inter-net,”” said Bradley Goodman, editor of the Ladner Downs IP Law Letter. Ladner Downs is a Vancouver-based law firm. “”It’s making all of these changes around the periphery, some of which may not have an impact on Web sites and what people do.””

The process underscored how difficult it is for government to keep up with the changes technology brings.

“”These amendments really came out of revisions that have been going on for eight or 10 years now – much before most of us even heard of the Internet,”” said Lesley Ellen Harris, a North York, Ont.-based lawyer specializing in copyright and new media issues.

Copyright issues continue to bring the industry and government into conflcit. Most recently, changes in a media levy that affected blank CDs caused controversy that has yet to die down.

The same month, Lucent was preparing to digest a US$1.8 billion acquisition of Octel Communications Corp.

Lucent said it bought Octel to gain a better foothold in the booming voice, fax and electronic messaging market, which analysts at the time estimated to reach US$10 billion by 2000.

“”Messaging is a strategic thrust for our business,”” Mark Yaphe, Toronto-based manager of multimedia solutions for Lucent Technologies Canada, told Computing Canada. “”We see ourselves as being in a better position to deploy a broader set of solutions to an installed base and through a very strong sales and distribution channel worldwide.””

Lucent was not so lucky two years ago, when it failed to executive plans for a merger with Alcatel. Analysts frowned upon the deal, which might have helped Lucent deal with its massive debt. In the end, it was forced to grapple with the same market woes afflicting Nortel and other rivals.

Long before Enron, WorldCom and others brought closer scrutiny from the securities commissions, Informix made a spectacle of itself in 1997 when it said it would have to restate its net income from the previous year. This topped a horrible string of financial setbacks that included a US$120.5 million net quarterly loss.

The fallout included a wave of layoffs that took out Informix’s Canadian general manager, among others.

In 2001, Informix’s database assets were acquired by IBM, where presumably they have better accountants.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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