Law Reform

CIPPIC and a number of other civil society groups and experts has put out an open letter to Industry Minister James Moore, highlighting a roadmap for how to fix a number of loopholes in Canada's Notice-Notice copyright regime. The Notice-Notice regime was enacted with the objective of creating a minimally intrusive mechanism for rights holders to contact alleged infringers. However, it is being exploited by some rights holders to send settlement demands that are unreasonable. Typical abusive notices include extravagant demands for damages well in excess of what would be available under Canada's Copyright Act, and might be sent without meaningful corroboration that the threatened recipient is actually the rights infringer. Some also include threats that the recipient will have her Internet access account terminated if they do not pay up. Third parties often flood ISPs with notices in a 'scattershot' approach not designed to facilitate an actual lawsuit based on proof of wrongdoing, but rather to encourage recipients to pay in order to make the matter go away - a highly questionable monetization technique. While rights infringers should not be able to hide behind ISPs in order to justify conduct, the current model is being abused to inappropriately threaten individuals who, often, have done nothing wrong at all.

CIPPIC is intervening an important Supreme Court case about copyright and technological neutrality. CBC v SODRAC concerns royalties payable by broadcasters for digital copies of music embedded in the production and broadcast of television programs. The Court’s decision could have implications for the way in which all Canadians access and pay for digital content, including music, movies and television programs, e-books, and many other online materials.  Professor Jeremy de Beer and CIPPIC Director David Fewer will appear in the case on behalf of CIPPIC. The hearing takes place on Monday, March 16, 2015, and will be webcast. Common Law students Jillian Brenner, Chelsey Colbert, Parineeta Chahal, Tracey Doyle, Laura Garcia, Grace Ko, Laura MacDonald, Samantha Peters, Sadegh Fattah, Laura Garcia and Mayuran Sivagurunathan have all assisted in preparations for the case.

CIPPIC has been granted leave to intervene before the Supreme Court of Canada in CBC v. SODRAC.  The case involves the interpretation of the reproduction right and its application to so-called "ephemeral copies" - copies of works for the purposes of facilitating the creation and transmission of broadcasts.  CIPPIC's intervention will focus on the role of the principle of technological neutrality in interpreting the reproduction right.

The Federal Court has heard Teksavvy's motion for "all reasonable legal costs, administrative costs and disbursements" arising from voltage's order that Teksavvy disclose the identies of those of its subscribers whose IP addresses Voltages alleges that it has identified downloading copyright materials.  The motion springs from Prothonotary Aalto's February 20, 2014, decision granting Voltage a Norwich order compelling Teksavvy to provide requested subscriber information provided that certain conditions and safeguards were met.  One of those conditions involved Voltage's payment of Teksavvy's "reasonable legal costs, administrative costs and disbursements".  Teksavvy has submitted a bill of costs in the amount of $346,480.68.  voltage opposes the amount as "outrageous".
Teksavvy's Record

The Canadian government has announced that it will bring into force the Notice and Notice provisions of the Copyright Modernization Act without regulations. These provisions provide that for a notice to be valid it must meet certain form and content requirements. The government's decision not to prescribe these requirements leaves it to the various affected industries to develop their own standards. CIPPIC had participated in earlier consultations on the notice and notice system, calling for checks and balances within regulations that would curtail the potential for abuse and make the system as a whole fairer and more transparent.

The notice and notice system will come into force six months following the publication of the Order in Council in the Canada Gazette.

In late 2012, Voltage Pictures sued over 2000 filesharers for sharing copies of Voltage's films over Bittorrent. To identify the alleged infringers, Voltage had to file a motion asking the court to order an Internet Service Provider (ISP), Teksavvy, to hand over the subscriber identities linked to the sharing activity.

In early 2013, CIPPIC was granted leave to intervene in that motion. CIPPIC's interest in the case stemmed from its desire to (1) ensure that the test for disclosing identities associated with anonymous internet activity remains sufficiently robust to protect high-value speech, such as whistle-blowing and online criticism, and (2) ensure that copyright trolls did not set up shop in Canada, employing taxpayer-funded Canadian courts as tools in a shakedown scheme that has emerged in the United States and England.

The Federal Court's decision, released February 20, 2014, offers aggrieved copyright owners a carefully calibrated tool for seeking redress for good faith claims of copyright infringement while at the same time trying to slam the door on copyright trolls. The Court has asserted that these sorts of proceedings will go forward as a "specially managed proceeding", subject to robust judicial oversight designed to ferret out abuses, protect privacy, and deter profiteering in the name of copyright infringement.

FAQ: Copyright Trolls

FAQ on privacy and copyright issues raised by photography-related activities.

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In 2002, the European Commission and the Government of Canada agreed to “design a new type of forward-looking, wide-ranging bilateral trade agreement covering…new generation issues and outstanding trade barriers.”
On May 6, 2009, Canada and the European Union (EU) announced the launch of formal negotiations towards the new trade and investment agreement, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
CETA is intended to build upon previous economic cooperation agreements between Canada and the EU, starting with the 1976 Framework Agreement for Commercial and Economic Co-operation, as well as the 1998 EU-Canada Trade Initiative.
While the scope of CETA is broad, this F.A.Q. will focus on intellectual property issues.


The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or "ACTA", is a controversial trade agreement negotiated by a number of nations, including Canada. ACTA addresses standards of enforcement of intellectual property rights. ACTA's content has the potential to impact civil liberties and divert public resources towards the enforcement of private rights.

Bill C-61 was a bill to amend Canada's Copyright Act. The bill died on the order paper with the election of 2008. However, the present government has indicated in its Throne Speech that it intends again to introduce legislation to amend the Copyright Act. Accordingly, we keep this FAQ available to the public.

Over the past few years, file-sharing - i.e., the sharing of files over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks - has become a popular way for music lovers to sample and gather music from a wide range of performers. However, most of the music downloaded and shared by consumers is copyrighted and hence, subject to laws limiting the rights of consumers to reproduce and distribute it.

Digital Rights Management (DRM), also sometimes called ECMS, or electronic copyright management systems, are technologies designed to automatically manage rights in relation to information. This can include preventing copyright works and other information from being accessed or copied without authorization and establishing and enforcing license terms with individuals.

Copyright is a system of laws for promoting both the creation of and access to artistic, literary, musical, dramatic and other creative works. It is usually presented as a balance between promoting the public interest in the encouragement of the creation and dissemination of works of the arts and intellect, and obtaining a just reward for the copyright holder

The broadcast flag is a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system for controlling consumer treatment of high-definition television (HDTV) broadcast content.

Bill C-60 was a proposal to amend Canada's Copyright Act. The Bill died on the order paper with the fall of the Martin government in 2005. However, the issues that motivated the government to table this Bill remain with us.

On March 4, 2004 the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the case of Law Society of Upper Canada v. CCH Limited [2004] S.C.J. No. 12, (2004) 236 D.L.R. (4th) 395 holding (i) that the Copyright Act's fair dealing exception should be liberally interpreted to prevent undue restraint of users' rights and (ii) that the provision of self-service photocopiers does not equal an infringement of copyright.

The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments on Dec.3, 2003 from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and music industry representatives in an important case that will decide, among other things, the extent to which Canadian ISPs are liable for content flowing through their networks, and the extent to which foreign actors who target communications to Canadians may be liable under the Canadian Copyright Act.

On March 16, 2015, CIPPIC was one of four interveners before the Supreme Court of Canada in CBC v SODRAC. Th is is an appeal  of a Federal Court of Appeal decision which upheld the Copyright Board’s characterization of broadcast incidental copies as  " reproductions "  under the Copyright Act. At the heart of this appeal, the Court was asked to interpret the meaning of the word “reproduce” in section 3 of the Act.  
In its oral submissions, CIPPIC supported a purposive and pragmatic interpretation of the reproduction right. CIPPIC offered a public-interest framework, which would allow the Court to interpret the reproduction right in a manner that is consistent with Parliament’s intention.  
CIPPIC  argued that Parliament intended that the reproduction right should be applied in a purposively balanced, pragmatically efficient and a technologically neutral way.  The Federal Court of Appeal 's judgement noted that views of  "technological neutrality" vary.  The issue  was then how to determine where to draw the line between a de minimus copy and a compensable reproduction.

National Post/Warman v. Fournier, Federal Court of Appeal, File Nos. A-394-12 & A-395-12

Voltage v. Doe, Federal Court, 2013

CIPPIC has filed a Statement of Defense on behalf of its client, Geolytica, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Canada Post Corporation in the Federal Court of Canada (File No. T-519-12) claiming that it owns copyright in its database of postal codes and that Geolytica has infringed that copyright by "crowd-sourcing" data for its own database of postal codes mapped to street addresses.

The case raises fundamental copyright issues, including the scope of protection afforded compilations of data, the subsistence of copyright in factual address identifiers such as postal codes, and the availability of defenses such as fair dealing to developers of research tools such as Geolytica's Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Dataset.  The case will have significant implications for downstream innovators and analysts looking at using datasets for research and to facilitate the research of others.


Copyright Pentalogy (SCC, 2012)

Following through on its threat, the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) launched a lawsuit in the Federal Court (Trial Division), in Toronto Ontario, on February 10, 2004 against 29 unnamed alleged music file-sharers.

Canada's 2010 Digital Economy Consultation

To better understand the basics of copyright law, Prof. Samuel E. Trosow (Western Ontario University)
presents to us his master class: Introduction to Copyright Law and prospects for new legislation.

In 2005, parliament considered revisions to the Copyright Act in order to ensure that Canada's copyright framework remained relevant in the rapidly changing digital environment. The Canadian government introduced a long-awaited bill to amend the Copyright Act on June 20, 2005.
On November 3, 2004, CIPPIC Associate Alex Cameron presented a brief to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on Bill S-9, proposed amendments to the Copyright Act that would give photographers first ownership of copyright in the photographs they take.

As Parliament considers legislated protection of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies (designed to detect and stop copying of digital works), the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has indicated her intent to "initiate a dialogue" with the departments of Heritage Canada and Industry Canada "to ensure that privacy risks" associated with any copyright legislation "are addressed." Some of the Commissioner's provincial counterparts have signaled their support of her initiative.

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.

The Canadian government is considering amending Canada's copyright law. CIPPIC is greatly concerned with the proposals and recommendations contained in the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage's Report on Copyright Reform.

In September 2003, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage ("Heritage Committee") began its review of the Section 92 report published by Industry Canadain October 2002.