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New Copyright Bill in Canada

As copyright is extended in Europe and restored in the U.S., it is set to be modernized in Canada.

Recognizing that digital technologies have outdated a lot of language and legal provisions in the Canadian Copyright Act, the current government plans to introduce the Copyright Modernization Act before Christmas, according to the CBC.

The Heritage Minister, James Moore, explained that the growing importance of digital technologies to the Canadian economy is one impetus behind the Bill. Canadians should be able to use these new technologies without being penalized. “They now will be able to upload the content they have created, like mashups, to internet sites without facing punishment,” confirmed Industry Minister Christian Paradis. According to The Vancouver Sun, the so-called “YouTube provision” allows users to remix media content for non-commercial purposes. Of particular interest to artists, the law would give consumers new rights to use copyrighted materials to create a parody or satire under fair dealing – the Canadian equivalent of fair use.

The Montreal Gazette takes the following stance on the Bill: “For the most part the Copyright Modernization Act strikes a good balance between the rights of consumers to use products they buy and those of copyright-holders who are entitled to due compensation for their creations.” Many current practices are still illegal under the current law, including recording TV shows at home and copying CDs to iPods.

In part, the Bill is an answer to the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Indeed, U.S. relations have factored in the Bill. For example, The Montreal Gazette notes that the blanket ban on breaking digital locks was included “as a result of heavy pressure from U.S. authorities and in the interest of maintaining cross-border trade and exemption from protectionist measures that would prevent Canadian firms from bidding on U.S. government procurement contracts.”

Despite its attempts to balance the interests of consumers, creators, copyright holders, and even international governments, the success of the Bill is hard to predict. This is the third time since 2006 that the Conservative government has attempted to modernize Canada’s copyright law.