Legal Values: Copyright Policy in the Making

The development of digital and network technologies has posed both opportunities and challenges for creators, publishers, and users of intellectual works. For the most part, copyright law has evolved to address these challenges by extending to embrace new media. But how well do traditional copyright principles and doctrine, developed in the heyday of the printing press, apply in the digital era when works can be created, shared, and transformed more easily than ever before? What considerations should be brought to bear by policymakers as they respond to urgent calls for copyright to “catch up.”

The objective of this seminar is to examine some of the key copyright policy questions currently before Canada’s Federal Government Departments of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) and Canadian Heritage. The seminar exposes students to the complicated process of crafting public policy and proposing law reform, and is uniquely designed to build on (and perhaps even feed into) ongoing public consultations on amendments to Canada’s Copyright Act. Students will tackle issues such as Technological Neutrality and the Copyright Balance; Authorship and Artificial Intelligence; Reproduction for Informational Analysis (Text & Data Mining); Digital Locks and the Right of Repair; Intermediary Liability and Website-blocking; the Regulation of Digital News Intermediaries; Non-Fungible-Tokens and Digital Art; User-Generated Content and Fair Dealing; Controlled Digital Lending and e-Books; Crown Copyright; and Copyright Term Extension. We will critically examine recent policy reports, bills, statutory amendments, treaties, and case law, as well as emerging industry and consumer practices, stakeholder demands, and the political dynamics of the copyright lawmaking scene. Copyright policy implicates, in addition to the letter and spirit of Canada’s Copyright Act, issues of constitutional law and fundamental rights, international and comparative law, and socio-legal theory.

U.S. Securities Regulation in Comparative Perspective

This seminar will provide an overview of U.S. securities regulation, with the goal of developing students’ understanding of the regulation of the U.S. capital markets from both a doctrinal and policy perspective, and understanding differences and similarities with Canadian market regulation and their respective regulatory structures and approaches.

Particular emphasis will be put on current regulatory issues, such as enforcement approaches, perspectives and initiatives and the relationship between securities law and corporate law. The Sarbanes-Oxley reforms of 2002; regulators’ responses to, and regulatory initiatives introduced in light of, the credit crisis in 2007-2008; concerns about the continuing global competitiveness of the U.S. securities markets; as well as the theme of increasing international cooperation and coordination in regulatory policy making will also be explored.

Topics to be covered include a history of American securities regulation; principles of materiality and on-going disclosure; the regulation of the public offering process; the prospectus system and exemptions from public offering requirements; mergers and acquisitions; the increasing role of shareholder activism, proxy battles and governance oversight; key players in the American enforcement environment; insider trading, manipulation and foreign corruption; debates over securities class actions under Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the ’34 Act; ESG disclosure issues; new and emerging issues, such as cryptocurrency and the role of public markets; and international cooperation and derivatives. Reading materials will combine theory (law review articles, reports of blue-ribbon commissions) with practice (statutory materials applied to problems distributed in advance).

Land Development & Commercial Real Estate Problems

The seminar deals with a broad range of subject matter within the context of land development and commercial real estate. Its focus is on developing problem-solving techniques to deal with the issues raised by the subject matter. The areas covered by the seminar include planning and land use control issues related to subdivisions and urban developments, commercial real estate including a discussion of various business entities used in real estate transactions such as limited partnerships, joint ventures and co-tenancies; current problems respecting condominiums; a discussion of institutional and secondary financing, consideration of ground leasing techniques; mixed use developments, public-private partnerships and commercial leases, and the negotiation of agreements of purchase and sale.

Comparative Law: International & Comparative Labour Law

This course charts three significant shifts in international labour law that came about as part of the neoliberal market economy in the name of ‘flexibility of labour and production.’ First of all, labour law has been reduced into a moral obligation, declaration-based, promotional, and ‘soft law’ through labour codes of Global Supply Chains (GSCs), the GSP+ status of the European Union and the like. Secondly, labour lawyers and activists have started using the private law of torts and damages against GSCs to redress the labour grievances for violations of their labour codes. Third, instead of focusing on formal, organized labour, with ‘freedom of association’ and collective bargaining, the ILO, international donor agencies, and labour NGOs are increasingly focusing on informal labour, child labour, bonded labour, home-based workers, and other such marginalized sectors of labour.
These changes reflect a major shift in the theory and philosophy of international labour law. This course will attempt to explain and explore this significant shift through initially a historical and interdisciplinary journey through the development of the theory and philosophy of international labour law. The second and major part of the course will explore labour law during the era of neoliberal globalization by exploring debates around the ILO/WTO in the 1990s and third world states, U.S., trade unions, labour, and human rights NGOs. The reading will comprise critical labour literature and case law related to complaints against GSCs in international fora and local courts.

Comparative Law: Privacy & Access to Information

The subject of privacy in 21st century society raises questions in a number of inter-related disciplines, including law, philosophy, sociology, information technology, health care and political science. This seminar introduces and explores the subject of privacy and personal information protection as well as concepts related to data governance and management.

Classes are organized around discussions of current issues in privacy law and policy, based on lectures concerning Canadian and international privacy and data protection law as well as student reading assignments. While the course covers key conceptual foundations of privacy as found in the western legal tradition, some sessions will be spent examining the subject from critical perspectives, including group and feminist views on privacy and data protection.

Students’ participation is required and actively encouraged.

Regulation of the Canadian Cannabis Industry

This seminar focuses on the regulation of the Canadian cannabis industry. We will consider the policy considerations that have contributed to the development of the medicinal and recreational cannabis regulatory regime and examine the legal impact this regime has had and will have on industry participants and the Canadian public generally.  Among the topics considered are: (i) the history and policy goals of the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis; (ii) the regulation of the industry and the market in the United States and internationally; (iii) the Canadian regulatory regime for medicinal and recreational cannabis; (iv) the regulation of edible, concentrate and topical cannabis products in Canada; (v) the provincial patchwork approach to the regulation of distribution of cannabis and the impact on the market; (vi) Indigenous communities considerations; (vii) equity and debt financing by industry participants; (viii) the regulation of branding, packaging and promotion of cannabis products; (ix) insolvency and creditor realization issues specific to the cannabis industry; (x) employment and workplace safety issues; and (xi) the impact of legalization on international affairs, such as United States customs and border policies, international trade and compliance with international treaties. We will also explore a select number of specialized and emerging topics (such as the regulation of psychedelics/hallucinogenics).

Regulatory Offences

In this seminar students will learn the substantive and procedural aspects of regulatory offences, or public welfare or quasi-criminal offences as they are sometimes called. The course has a practical focus, examining matters that arise before courts, administrative tribunals, regulators and law enforcement agencies. Seminar topics will include: the classification of regulatory offences, evidence gathering techniques, the application of the Charter of Rights, and the unique nature of strict liability prosecutions, including the operation of the due diligence defence. Sentencing considerations and proposals for reform will be canvassed as well.

Climate Change Law

Climate disruption is attributable to historical and current day modes of production and consumption. Enduring solutions will require significant shifts in how modern societies are governed. Governance, in this context, is unlikely to succeed without attention to related priorities of sustainability, justice, and cohesion. Yet there is ample evidence that many leaders and institutions are unable or unwilling to address the challenge effectively.
This seminar explores legal and policy issues related to efforts to control the causes and respond to the impacts of climate disruption. It approaches the topic from an interdisciplinary perspective that considers law, science, politics, economics, and history. The seminar is also concerned with how these perspectives can support pragmatic strategies in different areas of law and policy and at different levels of decision-making.

The seminar has two thematic segments. The first segment will examine the historical, political, socio-economic, and scientific background within which the modern problem of climate disruption has arisen. This segment will also provide a broad survey of the major international legal regimes that have been developed to address the problem.  
The second segment will focus on analyzing legal and institutional barriers to pragmatic action towards forestalling climate disruption and mitigating its impact on society. Particular attention will be paid to core societal functions such as food production, land management, water and wastewater infrastructure, energy, and transportation and communications. Students will have the opportunity to do their research and planning in a relevant area.

Law, Society & State: Derivatives Law & Crypto Contracts

Derivatives products have exploded in the last 30 years from being used for important risk hedging in the institutional sector to large speculative trading.  We are now seeing a similar explosion of activity for retail investors particularly in the crypto trading area.
This is a two hour course that provides a history of the development of derivatives,  and overview and explanation of derivatives and derivatives regulation in Canada and internationally, including crypto assets and the regulation of crypto trading, from the perspective of a regulator. We will review the Ontario Securities Act, regulations and policies, as it relates to derivatives and also look at futures oversight under the Commodity Futures Act and have an in-depth discussion of the post financial meltdown derivatives regulatory reform.  We will also provide an introduction to documentation of OTC derivatives.
We will then examine blockchain technology and how it is used in crypto contracts and currencies, Defi, NFT’s, stablecoins, and staking. We will review the developing oversight regime for these products and participants in Canada and internationally.  We will discuss the gaps in regulation in this area and look at the Quadriga example to assess the risks involved in trading in these markets and the role of regulation to prevent further investor losses.
In a fast developing new area of the law this will provide students an up to date discussion that will be adjusted through the course to accommodate new developments, particularly as it relates to the oversight of the crypto markets.  We will also ask questions regarding these new volatile markets like: Is there anything underlying these assets?  Is this the present day version of tulip mania? Will crypto currencies be around for decades or will they be short term speculative investments that benefit some to the detriment of many?  Or are they the future that will replace sovereign currencies and provide cheaper sources of payment that will remove the costs associated with financial intermediation from Banks?  Who should invest in these products?  Who shouldn’t?
The goal is to have students leave the course with a solid grounding in derivatives, crypto and derivatives law.  We will use a multi media approach using a variety of related printed and online materials.  There will also be expert guest lecturers for some of these topics.

Legal Values: Prison Law, Policy & Reform

This 3-credit seminar will utilize a multisectoral approach to encourage critical thinking with a view of challenging preconceived notions about what prison is and why it exists. It is designed to provide students with not only a basis to understand the theories underlying the carceral state, but also the practical skills necessary to navigate prison law and advocate on behalf of those on the inside.

Students will hear from and engage in discussion with prisoners, legal practitioners, prison officials, and academics with expertise in (de)carceration. Readings, videos, and audio recordings will also be used to learn about the history and ideology behind prisons and punishment in Canada.

This seminar will examine the legislation that empowers governments to create and maintain prison systems (i.e. the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Correctional Services Transformation Act), as well as the regulations, directives and policies which guide the day-to-day operations. It will also review jurisprudence from all levels of court on issues such as:
·        solitary confinement;
·        prisoners’ right to vote;
·        habeas corpus remedies;
·        tort actions and civil litigation against correctional officials;
·        international prisoner transfers;
·        conditional release;
·        prison abolition; and
·        labour (union) organizing among prisoner populations.

Independent audits, coroner’s inquests, and other inquiries into jails and prisons will also feature prominently.