Amendments to Canadian Copyright Law on Table


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I have some potential bad news for our filesharing neighbors up North. New amendments to the Copyright Act of Canada could soon affect the future of online filesharing in that country and elsewhere. Today a special House of Commons committee is expected to review a series of technical amendments to Canada's proposed Bill C-11, also known as the "Copyright Modernization Act". (That's Canadian for "SOPA.")

At the moment, copyright laws in The Great White North are viewed by many lobbyists and government officials as some of the laxest in the western world. These new proposed amendments to the laws come at the pressure both of content industry lobbyists and the United States government. In its current form, the Copyright Modernization Act is supposed to strike a balance between the rights of content owners and consumers, but the adoption of any or all of the new amendments could tip that balance even further in favor of copyright holders.

The new amendments would:

  • Expand the "enabler" provision of the build. As a result, ISPs and hosting services would be more accountable for their users transmission of copyrighted material.
  • Narrow the definition of the term "safe harbor" in the bill, with the same implications as above.
  • Narrow the bill's "non-commercial user-generated contented exception," known also as the "YouTube Exception". Rightsholders complain that the current "YouTube" exception is too broad, and allows a range of user-generated content that content owners feel strips them of control of their work.
  • The Copyright Modernization Act also includes a controversial "digital locks" provision prohibiting the breaking of digital locks by consumers. Under this provision, it will be illegal for consumers to break digital locks for any reason, even if they do so in order to access media purchased legally overseas, or to transfer or backup copies of legally purchased content.

    While authors and supporters claim they are making mere "technical amendments" to the bill, concerned researchers like Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, believe the scope of the amendments is far greater than "technical."

    "Almost everything that's been put forward are not technical amendments — rewriting fair dealing, expanding the enabler provision, website blocking," said Geist, quoted by Postmedia News. "I don't think any of that could be fairly described as technical amendments," he continued.

    The Copyright Modernization Act is Canada's third attempt at more stringent copyright laws since 2008. If it is successful, the Tory government may learn that the more they tighten their grip, the more fileshare systems will slip through their fingers.

    Imagesource: Paraphrase of Leia's speech to Tarkin constitutes "fair use" and is protect as parody under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.Thank you, George.