Copyright Reform in Canada


The Canadian government has introduced the next version of its long-awaited and much-debated copyright reform bill (Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act). Here are a few interesting highlights:

  • Format & Time Shifting: (Sections 29.22 and 29.23) The new law would allow consumers to “format shift” music from commercial CDs to hard-drives, iPods or other devices. It would also permit “time shifting” of TV programs. However, this right does not override the anti-circumvention restrictions. Put another way, if you have to crack a digital lock in order to make the shift, then you can’t legally shift. 
  • Back-Ups:  (Section 29.24) The proposed law allows users to make backup copies, but again, this right is subject to the anti-circumvention restrictions. It’s hard to find a commercial DVD now that doesn’t have digital locks, which means that in practical terms, any back-ups of personal DVDs would have to break a lock, would violate the anti-circumvention restrictions, and would thus be prohibited under the new law.
  • Software Interoperability: (Sections 30.61 and 41.12) Interestingly, the anti-circumvention rules do not apply if you want to circumvent a digital lock on software, “for the sole purpose of obtaining information that would allow the person to make the program and any other computer program interoperable”.  This need not be for personal use… so does this mean that competitors can legally hack each other’s code for the sake of interoperability?
  • The YouTube Exception: (Section 29.21) There is an interesting exception for “Non-commercial User-generated Content”. Basically, if you construct a mash-up using bits of copyright-protected material, then this kind of creation will not infringe copyright, as long as it is for personal use and doesn’t have a “substantial adverse effect, financial or otherwise, on the exploitation or potential exploitation of the existing work”.   
  • ISP Liability? (Section 27(2.3)) This new section might be called the Anti-Napster provision since it makes clear that copyright will be infringed by anyone who provides an Internet service that is designed “primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement”.  This raises the question of the liability of Internet Service Providers, though some language has been sprinkled in to provide comfort to ISPs. 

Before it becomes law, it must pass through Parliament and withstand any lobbying efforts by industry and consumers.

Calgary – 14:30 MT

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