Thursday, June 30, 2011

Midwives defend their actions

In the face of a PR nightmare following the death of a baby, Quebec midwives who have been fighting for years for acceptance and recognition again find themselves on the defensive.

However, they are hoping questions that arose after a newborn died at a Pointe Claire birthing centre are an opportunity to set the record straight.

“It’s terrible. My first thoughts last week were, ‘Oh dear, this is so ugly,’ ” said Claudia Faille, president of the Regroupement des sages-femmes du Québec, a non-profit group that speaks on behalf of the province’s midwives.

“We’ve been working so hard for the last 10 years to have midwifery accessible to the whole population and then this happens, and public opinion is affected.

“We just want the facts made public,” Faille said, referring to misleading information about the circumstances in the death of a newborn on June 21 at the West Island Health and Social Services Centre birthing centre.

Faced with an impending complication in the birth, the centre had placed a 911 call at 9:12 a.m. to transfer a woman with labour complications.

The baby, however, was born before the fire department’s first responder team arrived, and the centre barred them from entering.

Centre director Christiane Léonard told them that the baby was in cardiac distress and three midwives were attempting to revive and stabilize him while the facility awaited specialized neonatal transport from the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Outraged, a fire department responder threatened to break down the door and then called the police, who arrived followed by Urgences Santé paramedics.

Her staff did nothing wrong professionally, Léonard said, and the standoff with the first responders should never have happened.

“That’s a strong image,” Faille said. “Even people who know me said: ‘You didn’t let them in?’ ”

But that’s only half the story, Faille said.

The police and firemen do not understand the role of midwives, she said.

The fact is, midwives are the first responders and they’re trained in advanced neonatal resuscitation while firemen and ambulance technicians are not, Faille said.

“It’s absolutely not their place. Access was rightfully denied – they’re not trained for that,” Faille said.

The centre has an agreement with 911 for transfers and the firemen should not have been deployed, Faille said. “It was a dispatch mistake.”

Birthing centres have all the necessary equipment and medication to intubate and resuscitate a newborn while waiting for the neonatal transfer team.

First responders would never threaten to break down a door of a hospital, Faille added.

Intervention from their team would not have saved the baby, she said.

“We’re going to have to work at getting the facts out. Babies die in a hospital every day and we never hear about it but because it’s a midwife, it’s a big thing,” Faille said.

The practice continues to suffer from lack of acceptance, she said.

“I don’t know why the reaction. But if you look at (the) neonatal mortality rate, we always say it’s similar to doctors in hospitals,” Faille said, which is 4.2 deaths per 1,000 births.

“It’s important to get the right information out so this never happens again,” Faille said.

The Quebec coroner, police and the provincial order of midwives have launched investigations into emergency protocol at the centre.

About 25 per cent of women surveyed last year said they would choose to give birth outside a hospital if they could.

Officially reintroduced in Canada in the 1990s, midwifery is answering a real need for perinatal care, Faille said.

But there are wait-lists, she added. Three out of four women who request midwife services are refused in the Montreal area because the services are not available.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canadian BitTorrent User Fined $60,000 By U.S. Court

A new dimension was just added to the ongoing stream of BitTorrent lawsuits in the U.S. A Canadian BitTorrent user has been ordered to pay $60,000 by a U.S. District Court judge. The Calgary resident, who did not defend himself, was ordered to pay the damages for sharing two films on an adult-oriented BitTorrent tracker.

Over the last year several mass-lawsuits were started against so-called ‘John Doe’ defendants, who are only identified by their IP-address. However, at the same time a handful of copyright holders have also launched cases against named BitTorrent users.

One of these defendants was the Calgary, Canada-based Alan Phillips. The adult entertainment studio Corbin Fisher filed suit against Phillips, who they claim had illicitly shared two of their movies (“Turner F***s Austin” and “Keagan” ) on the BitTorrent tracker 

While most BitTorrent sites treat the private information of their users confidentially, the operator kindly provided the copyright holder with information that could identify the defendant. 

According to information previously received by TorrentFreak, this is not the first time that GayTorrent has handed over the personal details of a member to a copyright holder without being required to by law.
This compliance by GayTorrent allows Corbin Fisher to directly target defendants, instead of having to ask the court for a subpoena.

In the initial complaint Corbin Fisher alleged that Phillips willingly infringed on its copyright, and the studio’s lawyer Marc Randazza asked U.S. District Court judge John Houston to award $50,000 in damages per movie, totaling 100,000. Although Phillips complained to the court in an attempt to get the case dismissed, he did not defend himself.

Due to Phillips absence, Judge Houston was left with no choice but to order a default judgement as requested by the plaintiff.

In his ruling Judge Houston rejects the studio’s claim that the infringement was willful, just because Phillips was savvy enough to use BitTorrent. This reduced the maximum damages from $150,000 to $30,000 per movie.

Judge Houston did, however, rule that Phillips was guilty of copyright infringement.

“The record, as presented does not support a finding of willfulness based solely on plaintiff’s speculative argument that BitTorrent requires technical knowledge such that a person using the application necessarily used it in order to defraud plaintiff.” 

“Thus, this Court finds that the increase in statutory damages suggested by plaintiff is not appropriately assessed here. In this Court’s view, statutory damages of $30,000 per infringed work, for a total of $60,000 plus attorneys’ fees is reasonable.”

In total Alan Phillips was ordered to pay $63,867, which makes it one of the largest fines ever handed out to a P2P user in the U.S. Certainly the highest we know of where a foreign copyright infringer was targeted.

“There are too many canadians who are under the mistaken impression that Canada does not respect copyrights,” lawyer Marc Randazza told TorrentFreak in a comment. 

“Canada is a signatory to international copyright treaties, and thus Canadians need to learn that the border does not insulate them from illegal activity,” 

“My client is delighted with the verdict,” he added.