Michael Geist

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Michael Geist
Michael Geist in October 2007
Michael Allen Geist

(1968-07-11) July 11, 1968 (age 55)
EducationUniversity of Western Ontario, Osgoode Hall Law School, Cambridge University and the Columbia Law School
Occupation(s)Academic and Canada Research Chair
EmployerUniversity of Ottawa

Michael Allen Geist is a Canadian academic, and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. He is the editor of four books on copyright law and privacy law,[1] and he edits two newsletters on Canadian information technology and privacy law.[2]

Geist writes syndicated columns for some of Canada's largest newspapers, including the Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen and the Toronto Star.[3] His blog on the Internet and intellectual property law is a three-time Best Canadian Law Blog winner.[3]

Geist was named one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40 in 2002,[4] and Canadian Lawyer magazine identified Geist as one of the country's 25 most influential lawyers.[3] He has been listed globally as one of the top fifty influential people in regard to intellectual property by Managing Intellectual Property.[5] Geist has received the Electronic Frontier Foundation's EFF Pioneer Award, and the Public Knowledge IP3 Award, regarded as two of the top digital rights awards in the world.[3]

All Geist's books and articles are published under Creative Commons or open access licences.[3]


Michael Geist attended the University of Western Ontario, and Osgoode Hall Law School at York University where he earned a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree. He obtained a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the University of Cambridge, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree and Doctorate in Law (J.S.D.) from Columbia Law School.[6]


Michael Geist joined the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa in 1998, and was promoted to full professor in 2012.[6] He has held visiting positions at the University of Haifa, Hong Kong University and Tel Aviv University. Geist is a Former Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation,[7] and is a member of the University of Ottawa's Centre for Law, Technology and Society.[6]

In addition to professional journal publications, Geist is the author of Internet Law in Canada, 3rd Edition, and has edited four books on copyright law and privacy law in Canada.[8] Geist is author of a popular blog on the Internet and intellectual property law,[3][9] and author of the "Law Bytes" podcast.[10]

Geist has served on numerous boards and advisory panels, including the board of Ingenium: Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation;[11] the board of Internet Archive Canada;[12] [13] the Electronic Frontier Foundation Advisory Board;[14] the Canadian Legal Information Institute Board of Directors;[15] the Privacy Commissioner of Canada's Expert Advisory Board;[15] the Information Program Sub-Board of the Open Society Institute;[15] and Waterfront Toronto's Digital Strategy Advisory Panel.[16]

Copyright Law[edit]

Geist supports a consumer-oriented approach to copyright law, and he led the public response to proposed legislation in 2007.[17] Geist's research "played a key role in influencing policy-makers during the enactment of Bill C-11, which modernized the Copyright Act of Canada for the digital age."[3] His work has been cited in several Supreme Court of Canada copyright decisions.[3]

According to Geist, proposed Canadian legislation in 2007 included the worst aspects of the 1998 U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) "with strong anti-circumvention legislation — far beyond what is needed to comply with the WIPO Internet treaties" and with no protection for "flexible fair dealing. No parody exception. No time shifting exception. No device shifting exception. No expanded backup provision. Nothing."[18]

Geist has continued to play a prominent role on copyright in Canada, with numerous articles,[19] speeches,[20] books,[21] and appearances before House of Commons and Senate committees.[22] In October 2011, when the Canadian government attempted to pass a new bill on copyright reform which included digital lock rules, Geist argued that, based on former submissions to the government on Bill C-32 and the 2009 national copyright consultation, the bill was too restrictive and was primarily about satisfying U.S. pressure, not public opinion."[23][24] [25]

Trade: ACTA, the TPP and USMCA[edit]

Geist is considered an expert on intellectual property and digital trade issues associated with trade agreements.[26] He played a key role in the failed international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), criticizing the ACTA negotiation process for lack of transparency, and warning of possible negative consequences for Internet users.[27] [28] He was similarly active in assessing the implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership[29] and reforms to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), later called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)[30] in the United States or CUSMA in Canada.[31]

Telecom: Usage-based billing and Net Neutrality[edit]

In 2011, Geist criticized the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's (CRTC) history of inability to foster an atmosphere of competition that would allow third-party internet service providers (ISPs) to gain a foothold in the Canadian market. He did note, with the CRTC's usage based oral hearing on July 19, 2011, that they were making efforts to address this lack of competition and criticized Bell Canada and other major companies for their involvement in limiting smaller ISPs.[32] Also in 2011, he wrote a report on the transport costs of a gigabyte for a Canadian consumer from an ISP and concluded it was roughly eight cents per gigabyte. This report was later denounced by the major ISPs, most notably Bell Canada.[33] [34]

Geist has been a vocal supporter of net neutrality in Canada, writing widely on the subject[35] and frequently discussing the issue in the mainstream media.[36] In 2017, he appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics to explain his key concerns to Members of Parliament.[37]


Geist has regularly appeared before House of Commons committees to discuss privacy protection and potential reforms.[38] He is the editor of the Canadian Privacy Law Review and served on the Privacy Commissioner of Canada's Expert Advisory Board.[39] He is the editor of the 2015 book, Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era.

Website blocking[edit]

In 2018, Geist opposed a proposal to establish a website-blocking system in Canada to be overseen by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.[40][41] He wrote dozens of widely cited posts on concerns with the proposal.[42] The CRTC rejected the proposal on jurisdictional grounds in October 2018.[43]

The Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11)[edit]

Geist criticized the Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) because it could limit consumer choice if imposing restrictions causes streaming platforms to charge more, or pull out of Canada. Also, altering how discovery works would be detrimental to content creators.[44] He said the government, through its regulator the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), "gets to determine what gets prioritized…It's going to make choices – elevating some and deprioritizing others. That clearly has an impact on individual Canadians' expressive rights."[45] [46]

The Online News Act (Bill C-18)[edit]

Geist expressed three major concerns with the Online News Act, Bill C-18. He opposes, in principle, requiring payment for links, indexing, and any other mechanism to facilitate access to news because of "the harm to freedom of expression and the free flow of information online".[47] Also, the Act would only apply to Google and Meta platforms, leaving out similar companies such as X (formerly Twitter), Apple, Microsoft, and generative artificial intelligence companies, such as OpenAI.[48]

Further, the definition of eligible news businesses was expanded, and goes beyond the standards established under the Income Tax Act which govern Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations. As a result, Geist said "the bill would require payments to broadcasters without any actual journalism or original news content. That isn't funding for journalism or journalists. It is creating a subsidy program that only requires a CRTC-issued licence."[47] [49]


  • Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era, Editor.[50]
  • The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law, Editor.[51]
  • From Radical Extremism to Balanced Copyright: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda, Editor.[52]
  • In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law, Editor.[53]
  • Internet Law in Canada, 3rd Edition.[54]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • 2023, Privacy and Access Council of Canada Fellowship Award.[55]
  • 2018, Appointment to the Order of Ontario.[56]
  • 2016, University of Ottawa Open Scholarship Award.[58]
  • 2011, 2012, 2013, Named one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer magazine.[59]
  • 2010, Kroeger College Award in Public Affairs, for Policy Leadership.[60]
  • 2009, Les Fowlie Award for Intellectual Freedom from the Ontario Library Association[62]
  • 2003, Canarie's IWAY Public Leadership Award.[63][3]
  • 2002, Named one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40.[4]


  1. ^ "Michael Geist, Books".
  2. ^ "Michael Geist, Newsletters".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Connection Award Winner: Michael Geist". Government of Canada: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
  4. ^ a b Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Archived September 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b "Meet the 50 Most Influential People in IP", Managing Intellectual Property, July 1, 2010
  6. ^ a b c "About". michaelgeist.ca. Michael Geist. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  7. ^ "Michael Geist". Centre for International Governance Innovation.
  8. ^ "Books, Michael Geist".
  9. ^ "Blog, Michael Geist". Michael Geist.
  10. ^ "Podcast, Michael Geist".
  11. ^ "Board of Trustees: Biography" (PDF). Ingenium: Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation.
  12. ^ "Federal Corporation Information - 435509-1 - Online Filing Centre - Corporations Canada - Corporations - Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada". www.ic.gc.ca. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  13. ^ Geist, Michael (January 24, 2017). "The trouble for Canadian digital policy in an 'America first' world"". The Globe and Mail.
  14. ^ "Advisory Board". Electronic Frontier Foundation. September 25, 2007. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c "Michael Geist". The Tyee.
  16. ^ "Waterfront Toronto DSAP Biography" (PDF).
  17. ^ Beltrame, Julian (December 11, 2007). "Ottawa appears to delay tabling copyright amendment". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 24, 2007.
  18. ^ Ingram, Matthew (December 9, 2007). "New copyright law starts Web storm". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 24, 2007.
  19. ^ "After Supreme Court decision, Ottawa must fix flaws in Canada's copyright system". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  20. ^ Michael Geist (May 30, 2018), Separating Fact from Fiction: The Reality of Canadian Copyright, Fair Dealing and Education, archived from the original on December 21, 2021, retrieved October 29, 2018
  21. ^ "The Copyright Pentalogy". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  22. ^ "Evidence - CHPC (40-3) - No. 3 - House of Commons of Canada". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  23. ^ The Daily Digital Lock Dissenter
  24. ^ Geist, Michael (October 1, 2011). "Why Canada's New Copyright Bill Remains Flawed". Toronto Star.
  25. ^ "Clearing Up the Copyright Confusion: Fair Dealing and Bill C-32" by Michael Geist, December 2010 Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Juha Saarinen: Q & ACTA, with Michael Geist. A brief chat with a global expert on the ACTA treaty. ITnews.com.au, April 13, 2010
  27. ^ ACTA Posts
  28. ^ "Dr. Michael Geist". Fulbright Canada: Foundation for Educational Exchange Between Canada and the United States of America. Retrieved August 20, 2023.
  29. ^ "The Trouble With the TPP's Copyright Rules" (PDF).
  30. ^ "Opinion | How the USMCA falls short on digital trade, data protection and privacy". Washington Post. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  31. ^ "The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)". Government of Canada. April 21, 2022. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  32. ^ “The Usage Based Billing Hearing Concludes: Has the CRTC Come to Competition Too Late?” by Michael Geist, July 20, 2011
  33. ^ “What Does a Gigabyte Cost, Revisited” by Michael Geist , July 29, 2011
  34. ^ Geist, Michael (July 29, 2011). "What Does a Gigabyte Cost, Revisited".
  35. ^ "Canada and the U.S. stand divided at the crossroads of net neutrality". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  36. ^ "Inside Bell's Push To End Net Neutrality in Canada". CANADALAND. December 4, 2017. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  37. ^ "The Protection of Net Neutrality in Canada, Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics" (PDF).
  38. ^ "Evidence - ETHI (42-1) - No. 52 - House of Commons of Canada". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  39. ^ "Privacy Commissioner's Office renews its cutting-edge privacy research program". www.priv.gc.ca. Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. March 22, 2006. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  40. ^ "Why the CRTC should reject FairPlay's dangerous website-blocking plan". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  41. ^ "Bell-led FairPlay Canada coalition responds to critics". MobileSyrup. May 17, 2018. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  42. ^ "site blocking Archives - Michael Geist". Michael Geist. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  43. ^ "CRTC rejects proposed website-blocking scheme to fight online piracy". Financial Post. October 2, 2018. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  44. ^ Chandler, Feleshia (December 15, 2022). "Some Canadians worried new legislation could change how they stream media". CBC News.
  45. ^ Raman-Wilms, Menaka; Curry, Bill (June 4, 2021). "What is Bill C-10 and why are the Liberals planning to regulate the internet?". The Globe and Mail.
  46. ^ Coyne, Andrew (May 7, 2021). "Worried the government will censor your cat videos? The rest of Bill C-10 is even worse". The Globe and Mail.
  47. ^ a b Geist, Michael (February 25, 2023). "Why Justin Trudeau is Wrong About Bill C-18 and Google's Response to Mandated Payments for Links". michaelgeist.ca.
  48. ^ Geist, Michael (June 20, 2023). "As Government Moves to Cut Off Bill C-18 Debate, the Reality is Artificial Intelligence Renders Bill Already Out of Date".
  49. ^ Ives, Mike (June 23, 2023). "Canada Forces Google and Facebook to Pay News Outlets for Linking to Articles: A new Canadian law will require technology companies to license news content. Facebook's owner said it would drop news from the platform". The New York Times.
  50. ^ "Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era".
  51. ^ "The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law".
  52. ^ "From Radical Extremism to Balanced Copyright: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda".
  53. ^ "In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law".
  54. ^ "Internet Law in Canada, 3rd Edition".
  55. ^ "Michael Geist receives PACC Fellowship Award". Centre for Law, Technology and Society; University of Ottawa. March 24, 2023.
  56. ^ "The 2017 Appointees to the Order of Ontario". news.ontario.ca. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  57. ^ "CJFE to honour North American media at 21st annual gala". www.newswire.ca. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  58. ^ "Open Scholarship Award". Scholarly Communication. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  59. ^ "The Top 25 Most Influential". Canadian Lawyer. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  60. ^ "Award Winners - Arthur Kroeger College". carleton.ca. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  61. ^ "Public Knowledge IP3 Awards - Public Knowledge". Public Knowledge. October 26, 2006. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  62. ^ "Past recipients of OLA Les Fowlie Award" (PDF).
  63. ^ "Geist Named Canarie IWAY Public Leadership Award Winner". September 23, 2003.

External links[edit]