Canada would have to massively overhaul its Copyright Act just a few years after the last round of painstaking amendments, critics warn, if a secret trade and investment deal the government is negotiating is adopted with the terms outlined in a leaked draft from May that was made public this week. Canada Post and the CBC may also be casualties, if one interpetation of the leaked documents is to be believed.
What appears to be a working draft of parts of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, or TPP, was posted online this week by a U.S. non-governmental organization. The text includes terms that would require countries to criminalize certain types of copyright infringement and to force internet service providers and search engines to take down alleged copyright-violating material or even links to it.
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Those are steps the Canadian government contemplated, and in some cases rejected, in broad amendments to the Copyright Act debated for years and finally passed in 2012, but are now being pushed by other countries involved in the TPP talks.
"If things don't go Canada's way — and on a lot of issues Canada is playing defence, is in the minority — then it's going to require a major overhaul of our copyright law," said University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, an expert on internet legal issues.
Other clauses in the leaked text address a major issue of contention between countries, namely how long copyright should apply to any given work before it enters the public domain and can be freely copied and distributed.