Michael Geist: When is it OK to share copyrighted material internally?

BACKGROUND: Finance Canada was recently taken to Federal Court by an Ottawa news agency after the outlet claimed copyright violation by the department, alleging that staff emailed two news articles internally.

Michael Geist: MediaMiser board member

University of Ottawa professor and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law Michael Geist. (image supplied)

Finance Canada, for its part, responded that the articles “were emailed for non-commercial, research purpose and used fairly.”

In light of cases like this, it’s sometimes hard to know what the average Canadian should do if they want to share an article internally for research purposes — especially if they don’t want to step on any legal landmines.

We asked University of Ottawa professor and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law Michael Geist to explain:

MM: Is there a gap in knowledge when it comes to copyright law among Canadians?

MG: There’s certainly often a gap. That stems from those who aren’t aware, but also because there are real uncertainties about where the law falls on these issues. This case is a clear example of that: you have a provider who feels there has been an infringement and is seeking compensation, but you’ve also got a department who is responding in kind and believes that both on contractual and copyright grounds, they’re operating within the law.

Sometimes the law isn’t clear-cut. But even when it is clear-cut, you get differing opinions on how to interpret it.

MM: So can a user share a full copy of a story if it is for research purposes?

MG: This is an unsatisfying answer, but it depends. If you’re not under any contractual restrictions (from your subscription agreement), then I think the answer is that yes (it is OK). The dissemination of a single article for those purposes is likely to fall within the “fair dealing” exception.

Where things get more complicated is when there is a contract… that creates express limits on what they’re able to do with those articles. In that case the potential violation is not a copyright violation per se, but a breach of contract.

MM: How does a typical reader or subscriber know they’re under a contract?

MG: There certainly will be cases where someone isn’t aware of limitations that might exist. And if you’re an organization subject to limitations and providing access to users, you’d likely want to provide users with knowledge about what they’re entitled to do with the information.

But bear in mind these contracts are themselves still subject to the law. It may be that some contracts seek to override the law, and there is still debate amongst some on whether you can do that.

MM: When does it start to get really risky for those sharing content internally? Is there a rule of thumb in terms of the number of articles you can pass around?

MG: If a large number of articles all come from one source, it could impact the fair dealing analysis. But if we’re talking about one-off incidental copying of articles the fair dealing argument may still be quite compelling.

MM: How much impact does commercial vs. non-commercial use have?

MG: If you’re trying to argue that the copying was fair dealing, then there is a six-factor test that has been established by the Supreme Court of Canada to determine whether or not the use is more or less fair.

So commercial use is one of the factors, but contrary to what some have tried to suggest, it’s not disqualifying: it’s not the case that just because someone is (copying) for commercial purposes, that they have no opportunity at all to make a fair dealing claim.

(Please see this link, under the heading “Fairness of the dealing,” for a full list and explanation of the six factors that help determine fair dealing).

MM: What can people do to ensure they’re on the right side of the law at all times?

MG: If you’re regularly sending stuff around, and are subject to contractual limits, then you’ve got a number of options: You can get a site license that allows you to disseminate or distribute on a broader basis. You can also obtain a collective license that covers a wide range of materials from different copyright collectives. Or… you can just go to the copyright holder for permission to distribute that particular piece.

MM: Do you think we’ll see more of these types of legal actions as some media outlets become more and more cash-strapped?

MG: We might. I do think that as we see publications move toward pay walls and metering, they may find ways to enforce that—or at least send a few timely reminders that this is their business model, and they’re going to use the means available to them to try to enforce it.

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Amazing Race Canada (S2,E10): Everyone loves PEI

**Spoiler Alert**

As predicted in last week’s post, there was an increase in the social media activity for this week’s episode of the Amazing Race Canada.

This was largely thanks to strong activity from those on Prince Edward Island itself (where last night’s episode took place), but also people across Canada talking about PEI.


Natalie Spooner and Meghan Mikkelson strip mussels off their ropes during a particularly smelly challenge.











This week’s episode saw a 15.8% increase in Twitter interaction from last week. Other than Toronto, Charlottetown and the rest of PEI were the most active regions with 10.4% of all tweets in which the location could be confirmed.

This once again highlights the strength of Amazing Race Canada’s hometown appeal to viewers.

Hashtags such as #anneofgreengables, #Charlottetown, and #PEI were used throughout the episode. The hashtag #PEI was also used in 12.8% of all tweets, demonstrating the affinity viewers have for the Island and its citizens.

Top Five Cities (Percentage of known tweets)

  • Toronto 20.5%
  • Charlottetown/PEI 10.4%
  • Winnipeg 8.2%
  • Calgary 7.0%
  • Ottawa 5.1%

This episode will definitely pay off in spades for Tourism PEI, as the show has quickly become a fantastic marketing platform for the Canadian tourism industry.

Besides the picturesque location and challenging tasks The Amazing Race Canada’s penchant for great storylines continues, whether that involves viewers cheering for Canadian Olympians Natalie Spooner & Meaghan Mikkelson, underdogs Ryan Steele & Rob Goddard, or this year’s comic relief team Mickey Henry & Pete Schmalz.

Every protagonist needs an antagonist, however, and Sukhi and Jinder seem to have embraced this persona somewhat. Once again, The Amazing Race Canada focused on Sukhi and Jinder trying to deceive fellow competitors. Though the ploy on Natalie and Meghan failed, Sukhi and Jinder still ended up winning the leg.

But the majority of support still goes to fan favorites, starting with Natalie & Meaghan:

Percentage of Twitter mentions:

  • 26.1% Natalie Spooner & Meaghan Mikkelson (2nd)
  • 10.3% Sukhi & Jinder Atwal (1st)
  • 6.4% Mickey Henry & Pete Schmalz (3rd)
  • 4.7% Ryan Steele & Rob Goddard (4th)
  • 1.9% Alain Chanoine & Audrey Tousignant-Maurice (Eliminated)

As for corporate sponsors, once again, Air Canada’s #ACWinTheWorld contest continues to be a success. Air Canada was the most tweeted brand, being mentioned in 3.7% of all tweets for this episode.

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TIFF 2014: Clouds of Sils Maria and Kristen Stewart lead the buzz

The Toronto International Film Festival debuts today as Hollywood and international film stars descend on Toronto and a number of high profile films will be shown over the next week and a half.

We’ve tracked the festival the previous two years and we’d thought we’d take a look at the 2014 version., monitoring both #TIFF and #TIFF14 on Twitter to see what people are most excited about.

We’ve noted before that TIFF tweets tend to be predominantly Canadian, which is still the same this year. Of tweets with locations, just less than 72 per cent came from Canda, while just less than 14 came from the US.


Toronto, not surprisingly, was the top city, accounting for almost 47 per cent of tweets with a location. Los Angeles was a distant, distant second with 3 per cent and New York had 2.2 per cent.


Clouds of Sils Maria, starring Kristen Stewart, Juliette Binoche and Chloe Moretz, has generated by far the most buzz of any film at the festival so far.


Stewart herself has generated some good buzz for her performance in the film.

She was by far the most mentioned actor while Binoche also appeared in the top ten. tiff2014stars.png Bill Murray, who stars in the film St. Vincent also got some buzz and was the second most-mentioned actor:

And, finally, Julianne Moore may be up for this year’s Benedict Cumberbatch award, starring in both the second and third most mentioned movies, Still Alice and Maps to the Stars. Moore herself, though, was just the sixth most-mentioned actor.

With the festival just kicking off, stay tuned as we see how the festival progresses.

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Amazing Race Canada (S2,E9): Jet lag hits teams as they head back to Canada

**Spoiler Alert!**


This week’s episode didn’t have nearly the audience interaction as past episodes

For Episode 9 of Amazing Race Canada, Teams found themselves back in Canada this week as they raced through through the streets of Montreal.

Despite being in one of Canda’s biggest cities, Twitter interaction was down, both compared to Episode 8 and Episode 7 from this season and compared to Episode 9 from Season 1

Episode 9 was one of the strongest episodes from Amazing Race Canada’s first season. Episode 9 this year had 3.6 per cent less Twitter interaction than its counterpart last season. It also saw a 10.3 percent drop from last week’s episode. However, it should be pointed out the show was aired a day after Labour Day.

Other factors could have had an effect on social media interaction, though. Unlike previous episodes in cities, there was little engagement from local tourism groups or Montreal-based venues.

A good example of a city where local interaction drove engagement was Episode 6 in Winnipeg. In fact, that episode had 51.4% more Twitter activity than this week’s.

Local viewer interaction also has a big impact on social media activity. People like to talk about what they know and that creates even more interest for other viewers.

Winnipeg was the second most Twitter mentions, behind only Toronto, Canada’s biggest media market. Montreal, Canada’s second biggest media market, barely made the top 5.

  1. Toronto: 21%
  2. Winnipeg: 10%
  3. Calgary: 7%
  4. Ottawa: 5%
  5. Montreal: 5%

As we’ve mentioned before, storyline has an impact on viewer interaction, which could be the case this week — it was a non-elimination race, fan favourites Natalie Spooner & Meaghan Mikkelson had a mediocre finish, and the episode lacked the drama of other episodes. However, it did have some interesting twists, such as brother and sister team, Sukhi & Jinder Atwal, having to pose naked together for artists to earn a fast forward, which ultimately allowed them to win the leg.

Not only did it help them win this leg of the race, but they also dominated the social media conversation with 13.7% of all tweets compared to 11.8% for Natalie Spooner & Meaghan Mikkelson.

Also, Sukhi & Jinder Atwal almost eliminated their nemeses Ryan Steele & Rob Goddard by stealing the fast forward.

Percentage of Twitter conversations:

  1. Sukhi & Jinder Atwal: 13.7%
  2. Natalie Spooner & Meaghan Mikkelson: 11.8%
  3. Ryan Steele & Rob Goddard: 9.8%
  4. xMickey Henry & Pete Schmalz: 9.8%
  5. Alain Chanoine & Audrey Tousignant-Maurice: 3.5%

I expect that Episode 10 will do much better than Episode 9 on Twitter. Someone will get eliminated and, depending who it is, it’s almost certain to add to the social conversation and the drama.

Furthermore, teams are headed to Prince Edward Island. During this episode, PEI represented 3% of all tweets. Part of this was due to the trailer at the end of the episode and anticipation to next week’s leg of the race.

As teams head east, the jet lag should wear off and I predict more viewer social media interaction.

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Amazing Race Canada (S2,E8): Mentos, Karma, and I said Yes!

**Spoiler Alert!**


The Amazing Race Canada capped off their visit to the City of Love with a proposal.

Amazing Race Canada continued in France this week as the teams made their way to Paris and the storyline of the show keeps getting better each week.

Last week, contestants and viewers took pause to remember the sacrifices made by Canadians on the shores of Juno Beach in Normandy. Last week’s episode was a mix of emotion and Canadian pride and it made a significant impression on social media.

Tweets this week were down 14.5 per cent from the previous week. However, compared to last year’s episode 8, mentions were up 38.3 per cent.

Once again Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson came out on top, marking their sixth win. The pair was also extremely popular on Twitter, accounting for 17.6 per cent of all mentions. Other interesting storylines emerged, however, as the race took on a more personal tone.

With an addition of a double U-turn, which allowed teams to slow down their competition. Inter-team cooperation took a back seat and was replaced by resentment and animosity.

Twins Pierre and Michel Forget, went back on promise to Alain Chanoine and Audrey Tousignant-Maurice not to U-turn them and Sukhi and Jinder Atwal lied to Ryan Steele and Rob Goddard during a roadblock. Then, to add injury to insult, roadblocked them despite knowing they already had an extra penalty to complete.

Viewers engaging on Twitter showed their disapproval for both teams over their betrayals.

However viewers were rewarded with some justice when Pierre and Michel were eliminated on the Mentos challenge, which had contestants recreate art with Mentos candy.

Mentos are sweet, but Karma is even sweeter. The word karma was mentioned in 3.6 per cent of all tweets.

Mentos itself was mentioned in 2.4 per cent of all tweets, making for effective product placement.

Still, Air Canada continued to be the most recognized brand on Amazing Race Canada, with their #ACWinTheWorld contest mentioned in 3.6 per cent of all tweets.

There were heroes as well a villains in this episode, as both U-turned teams survived and received accolades from tweeters.

Ryan Steele and Rob Goddard received 4.7 per cent of all tweets, a big improvement over the previous week.

The episode was nicely wrapped up by both not only a strong finish from Alain Chanoine and Audrey Tousignant-Maurice, but also a marriage proposal from Alain to Audrey at the finish line.

And it was the perfect location, too: the famous Pont des Arts, where couples make commitments to each other by adding a pad lock to the bridge.

And, of course, she said Yes. With the promoted hashtag #congratsalainandaudrey, Alain and Audrey took top spot in mentions with 20.6 per cent of all tweets.

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VMAs: 5 Seconds of Summer was surprise top performer

The MTV Video Music Awards are known for their unpredictability. You never know who’s going to wear what outrageous outfit or do a performance of a lifetime.  So, we weren’t going to miss this year’s VMAs!

We monitored the keywords “Video” “Music” and “Awards” together, as well as “MTV Video Music Awards” and the handle @TheVMAsNews during a four-and-a-half window around the EDT broadcast. We looked at the Twitter handles of the performers and charted our findings via share of voice among the top five.

The Australian pop/punk boy band 5 Seconds of Summer received the most mentions on Twitter during the live broadcast of MTV's Video Music Awards.

The Australian pop/punk boy band 5 Seconds of Summer received the most mentions on Twitter during the live broadcast of MTV’s Video Music Awards.

The performer that garnered the most user handle mentions on Twitter during the VMAs was 5 Seconds of Summer – an Australian pop/punk boy band with 34 per cent SOV.

It was a little surprising was that despite doing a 20-minute performance and bringing her husband Jay Z and daughter Blue Ivy on stage, Beyonce wasn’t the top mentioned, she came in second with 29 per cent SOV.

Ninki Minaj came in third most mentioned with 13 per cent SOV and Ariana Grande and Fifth Harmony, rounded out the top five, with 12 per cent SOV each.

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Amazing Race Canada (S2,E7): Lest We Forget

**Spoiler Alert!**

Once again, The Amazing Race Canada left the confines of Canada for an overseas destination. This time instead of heading to an Asian country, teams travelled east to Normandy, France.


Most teams got emotional when touring the Canadian D-Day cemetery, and at the end of the leg after meeting Canadian WW2 veteran Jim Parks.

Like all Amazing Race episodes, roadblocks are typically designed to either show a unique cultural element or promote a sponsor’s product. But the show had to be extra sensitive about how it approached this leg, since it focused on the Canadian D-Day military cemetery at Bény-sur-Mer and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Juno Beach and elsewhere.

This sensitivity also had to be extended to social media, or the show risked being perceived as exploiting something sacred to most Canadians — namely, the sacrifices of Canadian World War 2 veterans.

The show’s official Twitter account, contestants, and host Jon Montgomery set the tone with tweets touching upon their experiences at Juno and Bény-sur-Mer.

The Juno Beach Centre Twitter account also tweeted during the episode, receiving 4.1 per cent of all tweets mentioning the show. This is extremely high for any group or organization featured on the show.

The impact of Bény-sur-Mer, Juno, and D-Day veteran Jim Parks, who greeted contestants at the Pit Stop, was expressed by viewers on Twitter.

Almost all the comments were respectful and many viewers expressed gratitude and pride about being Canadian.

Jim Parks was mentioned in eight per cent of tweets, with nearly every tweet personally thanking him for his sacrifice.

During the episode ARC also promoted the hashtag #OurCanadianHeroes, and it ended up representing an incredible 26.1 per cent of all tweets. This is definitely the most influential promoted hashtag on The Amazing Race Canada to date.

Overall the show saw a 55.3 per cent increase from last year, but a decrease from last week of 13.9 per cent. However, the post show last week have skewed these results somewhat: If comments from the post show are removed, this week’s show featured a decrease of just 5.8 per cent.

In many ways, the Amazing Race Canada is the ultimate travel brochure for all things Canadian. There’s nothing wrong with educating Canadians on sacrifices made on Juno Beach, and if approached properly, social media can have a role to play if done with tact.

The Amazing Race Canada did a great job achieving this balance. In fact, the episode prompted curiosity and questions from one of my children on the significance and sacrifices made by Canadians and other Allied soldiers on June 6, 1944 in Normandy, France.

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How social monitoring can help before, during, and after a PR crisis

With millions of people using social media each day, the chances of a PR crisis going viral are exponentially higher than they used to be: news and stories can now spread like wildfire.

That’s why social media monitoring has become so valuable, and can be your first line of defence in many ways when faced with a burgeoning PR crisis:

Early intervention

By implementing a strong social media monitoring strategy, choosing the right keywords, and consistently monitoring your account (or having someone do it for you), it’s possible to stop a crisis before you lose control.

Social media

Social monitoring allows you to potentially identify small issues that may, one day, become larger ones. You can address feedback and complaints, reach out to people personally, and ultimately gain a better understanding of how your brand is perceived.

All of these combined offer great ways to improve your chances of avoiding a social media blowout.

Find key influencers

Imagine this: you’re in the middle of a PR crisis, and the issue is still buzzing on social media. You want to know who is speaking out most frequently, who has the most followers, and who is consistently being retweeted/shared. You want to know who are the influencers of the issue, and why they’re keeping the issue alive.

Social media monitoring tools allow users to identify these influencers, so organizations can then develop a social/PR strategy to approach them and (hopefully) resolve the issue.

By keeping an eye on your influencers, you’re bound to find people advocating on behalf of your brand as well. You can then reach out to your positive influencers and harness the power of positive brand advocacy to rebuild your brand image.

Keep your finger on the pulse of popular opinion

You may know the issue, but do you know the full impact it’s having on your brand? By using social media monitoring, you can get a better handle on popular opinion – both good and bad. This gives a much more insightful understanding of the situation, and how it could be potentially rectified.

Monitor your success

Has the problem and negative attention died down? Are people beginning to speak more positively about your brand again? Do your followers feel you’ve offered an impactful solution?

After you’ve implemented your recovery strategy, social media monitoring can help you gauge your success and offers insights into how to further improve your brand image.

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From the media database: Our top 5 Weird Al Yankovic fansites

After many years of polka-fying and injecting humour into America’s biggest hits, Weird Al Yankovic  released his 14th album, Mandatory Fun, this summer. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Chart in July.

Weird Al Yankovic released his 14th album at the top of the billboard charts in July.

Weird Al Yankovic released his 14th album at the top of the billboard charts in July.

Fans are now petitioning for Weird Al to perform at the Super Bowl.

In the spirit of supporting Weird Al and his mélange of comedic music, we’ve reached into MediaMiser’s media intelligence database to showcase Weird Al’s biggest fan sites!

Top 5 Weird Al fansites & blogs

1.   World of Weird Al Yankovic (1,521 average daily visitors)

“The almost official ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic forum featuring Ask Bermuda and lots of fans.”

2.   Al Yankovic blog (582 average daily visitors)

Blog by the weird man himself. Hasn’t been updated since last year, but it’s still popular.

3.   Al-oholics Anonymous! (313 average daily visitors)

Facts, interviews, merchandise. This site has it all.

4.  Yankovic! (121 average daily visitors)
“The first parody page that is completely devoted to the funniest singer in the whole stinkin’ world”

5.  Crash course in Weird Al (27 average daily visitors)

 Fan site aimed a new Weird Al fans.

And we’re sure Weird Al will continue to expand his fandom with his latest release, Word Crimes.

Stay tuned for an infographic from MediaMiser analyzing the social media success of Weird Al’s eight days of releases from this past summer!

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Amazing Race Canada (S2:E6): Tell a great story and shoot five-hole


One constant if you want a hit TV show, a good blog post, or even meaningful analysis is to tell a compelling story.

This is what makes Season 2 of The Amazing Race Canada so successful. The storyline and storytelling has matured from Season 1, and the social media analysis confirms this.

Social media activity was up 87.9 per cent year-over-year from last year’s Episode 6, and 25.7 per cent week-over-week. It was the fourth-most successful episode in the show’s history, at least so far.


Parry Sound boy and Amazing Race Canada contestant Mickey Henry squares off with the Winnipeg Jets mascot, Mick E. Moose, at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.











For the first time, The Amazing Race Canada ran a post-episode show meant to catch up with eliminated competitors and get their perspective on other teams, unknown storylines of the show, and so on.

This helped boost overall social media activity. Posts about the post-episode show, hosted by TSN’s James Duthie, represented 8.5 per cent of the episode’s activity.

The idea of reintroducing eliminated contestants also helps reengage viewers who may have been fans of eliminated teams. It helps draw them back into the show and, by extension, the social conversation (Cormac and Nicole were the most popular of the eliminated teams, receiving the most mentions at 16.6 per cent).

This week’s episode in Winnipeg, Manitoba, featured the Royal Canadian Mint, Canadian Museum of Human Rights, pierogi stuffing, and singing at a music bar, Whiskey Dix. But was the visit to the MTS Centre, home of the Winnipeg Jets, that set up one of the best storylines in the show’s history.

Gold medal hockey Olympians Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson passed up a Fast Forward — which would have allowed them to win this week’s leg — so they could show off their hockey prowess in a shinny-related roadblock.

What unfolded next was worthy of a Greek tragedy. After successfully shooting four pucks into targets in four tries, it took them over 50 additional shots to hit the fifth (the dreaded five-hole) and complete the task. The stumble allowed two teams to pass them, including the eventual leg winners Pierre and Michel Forget (who used an express pass given to them by — you guessed it — Spooner and Mikkelson).

The ice duo received 24 per cent of all Twitter mentions — most of which were overwhelmingly positive or sympathetic.


Rex Harrington, above, and teammate Bob Hope were eliminated after Rex stumbled on stage.

Rex & Bob, who were eliminated (again somewhat ironically) after ex-ballet star Harringon stumbled during a performance event, ended up receiving 11.9 per cent of all Twitter mentions.

Organizations also did a good job engaging this week: Tourism Winnipeg, the Canadian Mint, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the Winnipeg Jets, and Whiskey Dix all engaged on Twitter and all were mentioned.

Corporate sponsors Air Canada and Petro-Canada have implemented contests that include viewers and make them part of the show. Air Canada allows viewers to win flights through its “Win the World” contest, and Petro-Canada sponsors a poll encouraging viewers to vote for their favourite contestants.

Again, this helps to further enhance the storyline and keep viewers engaged.

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