Heritage Committee Interim Report on Copyright Law (2004)

Heritage Committee Interim Report on Copyright Law (May 12, 2004)

On May 12, 2004 the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, chaired by Sarmite D. Bulte, M.P. released an interim report listing a number of recommended reforms to Canadian copyright law. The first round of hearings for the report were launched in October 2003 where the Committee heard from a panel of invited witnesses including representatives from Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Canadian Association of Internet Providers and the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association among others. As a result of these consultations, the Committee came up with a number of recommendations:

  1. That the Government of Canada ratify the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) immediately
  2. That the Copyright Act be amended to grant photographers the same authorship right as other creators
  3. That the Copyright Act be amended to provide that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can be subject to liability for copyrighted material on their facilities. ISPs should be exempt from liability if they act without actual or constructive knowledge of the copyrighted and transmitted content and where they meet certain prescribed conditions. Compliance with a "notice and takedown" scheme should be mandatory.
  4. That the Copyright Act be amended to allow for extended licensing of Internet material used for educational purposes. A fee should not be applied to publicly available material defined as:
  5. Publicly available material should be defined as material that is available on public Internet sites. Public Internet sites do not require subscriptions or passwords and there is no associated fee or technological protection measures which restrict access or use. The Committee also recommends that publicly available material be accompanied by notice from the copyright owner explicitly consenting that the material can be used without prior payment or permission.
  6. A regime of extended collective licensing should be implemented by the Government to ensure that educational institutions' use of information and communications technologies to deliver copyright protected works can be more efficiently licensed.
  7. Licensing of the electronic delivery of copyright protected material directly by rights holders is encouraged as the Committee posits that this will ensure the orderly and efficient electronic delivery of copyright material to library patrons for the purpose of research or private study.
  8. The Government is urged to take immediate and decisive action on the recommendations above in pursuit of the modernization of Canadian copyright law, which the Committee posits, is of the utmost importance
  9. That a memorandum to cabinet incorporating the above recommendations be ready for approval no later than August 15, 2004 and that legislation to permit the ratification of the WIPO treaties be introduced in the House of Commons by November 15, 2004

Together with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), CIPPIC has issued a highly critical response to this report. CIPPIC and PIAC state that the report ignores key evidence and submissions by public interest groups, and lacks reasoning for some key recommendations. They call for rejection of the report and for a more balanced approach to copyright reform in Canada.

Submissions of the following organizations that appeared before the Committee are also available:

For more information on copyright reform, please refer to