The New Copyright Bill: Some Critical Updates and One Colossal Flaw

- 2011-09-29 -

The Government of Canada announced a new copyright bill this morning, entitled the Copyright Modernization Act. The government claims it is identical to Bill C-32, which the Conservative minority tabled last year. This bill proposes many important updates to Canadian copyright law. If passed, it will legalize  activities that Canadians already do on a daily basis: record television, copy songs onto MP3 players, and make backups of DVDs. The bill contains provisions to legalize the ordinary digital activities of many internet services, such as search engines and websites. It also importantly extends fair dealing to include education, parody and satire.

Unfortunately, the bill also succumbs to U.S. pressure and makes fair dealing -- including the new exceptions for the many ordinary activities of Canadians -- illegal whenever there is a "digital lock" on a work.  A digital lock will trump all other rights, forbidding all fair dealing and keeping a work locked up even after its copyright term expires. Overall, these digital lock provisions are some of the most restrictive in the world.

To achieve a fair balance between users and copyright owners, the government needs to fix the digital lock provisions before this bill passes into law. A fair way to rework this flaw is to ensure that fair dealing with works is always legal, regardless of whether there is a digital lock present.

More information on the new bill is available at the following links: