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THE BIBLIO FILE is a leading podcast that examines "the book" and book culture. Hosted by NIGEL BEALE it features wide ranging conversations with writers, poets, book publishers, booksellers, book editors, book collectors, book makers, book scholars, book critics, book designers, book publicists, literary agents and other best practitioners who busy themselves with the world of books.

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Jan 23, 2023

​I booked a room at the Intercontinental Hotel in Montreal through Hotwire a couple of days ago. When I arrived at the hotel the receptionist asked me for a $250 deposit for incidentals. Next morning, without my permission (sure, okay, it's likely buried in the small print) they charged my card an additional $200. I subsequently learned that this was because I'd booked a couple of massages at their spa. When I checked out they charged me for the massages and told me that I should see the $450 back on my card in 2-3 business days. 
 
Of course, this scam earns the hotel money at my expense. A tiny expense, but, when combined with all of the other visitors' tiny expenses, not tiny. This scam is similar to the one operated by the oil companies when they insist that you punch in the amount you think you'll need to spend filling your tank at their pumps. It's your money and time they're stealing. Peanuts per person, big coconuts together. 
 
Where's the government on this? The same place government is on poor banking services, the highest mobile phone rates in the world, and sky-high dairy prices. Nowhere. Canadian governments have abandoned Canadian consumers. Valets to the rich and big business they are; to an alarming degree.
 
Which brings us to copyright legislation. 
 
Cravenly hidden in an omnibus Budget Bill (a tactic Trudeau swore he'd never use), Bill C-32 received royal assent on December 31, 2022. It extends copyright protection in Canada for writers and other creators from fifty to seventy years after they die. How does this benefit the public? It doesn't. Not at all. Does it provide added incentive for these authors to create and innovate? None. Does it help readers and researchers and teachers? No, it does the opposite. 
 
Lobbyists convinced the Trudeau government to extend copyright with one pathetic argument: that it brings Canada into compliance with other jurisdictions. Greed won out in other words. Now, no new works will come into the public domain in Canada for another twenty years. How does this affect books and readers, writers and publishers? I ask Michael Geist. He's a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law and is a member of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society. He has obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees from Cambridge University in the UK and Columbia Law School in New York, and a Doctorate in Law (J.S.D.) from Columbia Law School - so he should know.