Topics For Discussion In Copyright Review

After a lengthy consultation process, in 2012 Stephen Harper’s government passed a legislative overhaul of the Copyright Act. Titled the Copyright Modernization Act, it addressed many of the issues in the copyright regime that had plagued both creators and users. With the mandated five-year review of the Act fast approaching, stakeholders are once again reflecting on how Canadian copyright policy can be improved.

In an article he contributed to a Policy Options feature Reviewing Canadian Copyright Policy, Michael Geist, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, outlined his expectations for the upcoming copyright policy review in a Public Options.

The upcoming review will hopefully build on Bill C-11 or the Copyright Modernization Act, which passed into law on June 29, 2012.

Among the provisions of the amended Copyright Act:

  • Makes explicit allowance for time shifting, format shifting and backup copies as long as no digital locks are involved.

  • Expands the scope of fair dealing to include education, satire, and parody which enables users to make use of fragments of copyrighted works if no digital locks are involved.

  • Introduces a new exception for user-generated content created using copyrighted works without digital locks.

  • Prohibits the circumvention of digital locks, even for personal use, with some limited exceptions (such as unlocking cell phones).

  • Limits the amount of statutory damages for cases of non-commercial infringement to between $100 and $5,000 for all infringements in a single proceeding for all works. Statutory damages for commercial infringement range from $500 to $20,000 per work infringed.

  • Adopts a “notice-and-notice” regime which requires ISPs to forward any notice alleging infringement received from copyright owners to the subscribers in question.

  • Allows libraries to reproduce works in its permanent collection in alternate formats if the original format is obsolete, or if the technology required to use the original is no longer available.

  • Calls for a review of copyright law every five years.

What follows is the podcast with Michael Geist. He cast his net wide on what might be included, but the review process in itself is lengthy and has yet to be called.

As Geist notes in the podcast, muddying the waters are the expected NAFTA negotiations with the US and the strong possibility that the review’s conclusions could get jammed up in legislative inaction resulting from the next election call.



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