The new federal Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-32, was tabled on June 2.
For those of you haven’t been following the contentious reform of the existing and antiquated Copyright Act, this is the fed’s third crack at it. The Liberals tabled Bill C-60 in 2005, which was criticized for favouring the interests of copyright holders over consumers and died when Parliament was dissolved that year. The Conservatives tried again with Bill C-61 in 2008. It faced the same complaints, and disappeared when the government prorogued.
Both these Bills were slammed for catering to the entertainment industry, which lobbied hard for digital locks on devices and content. During extensive consultations leading to the new Bill, most Canadians made it clear that they objected to the locks.
Despite this, digital locks are enshrined in the new legislation, along with prohibitions against breaking or circumventing them on a device, disc or file. This means it would be illegal to copy a CD or digital song sold with copy protection on it, for example.
However, the Bill does allow some “fair dealing” latitude, including legalization of format shifting (e.g., copying content from one device to another, such as a CD to a computer or a portable music player), time shifting (recording television programs for later viewing but not for the purposes of building up a library) and making back-up copies of content to protect against data loss.
But many critics are asking: do these fair dealing exceptions have any meaning if the content has a digital lock in place? This appears to be the case, and will be the centre of controversy as the Bill moves forward into committee.
Michael Geist has offered commentary on the copyright proceedings on his blog from the start. Geist has also started Speak Out on Copyright, a blog specifically about copyright issues in Canada.
Look to Finance and Accounting PolicyPro from First Reference for information on Copyrights and Trademarks and much more.
First Reference Internal Controls Managing Editor