Canada's Supreme Court Shakes Up Copyright Laws
Canada's Supreme Court Shakes Up Copyright Laws

A little more than a year since the last copyright reform bill (C-32) died when a general election was called, Canada's Conservative government finally committed to update the country's lagging copyright laws.

Bill C-11 was the fourth attempt at legislating the Copyright Modernization Act and finally received Royal Assent, the symbolic final stage required before a Bill can become law.

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"Our Government recognizes the critical role that modern copyright laws play in protecting and creating jobs in Canada's digital economy," said the Honorable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry. "We have delivered on our commitment to modernize Canada's copyright legislation and strike the right balance between the needs of creators and users."

"This is the most comprehensive effort to modernize our copyright laws in over a decade," said the Honorable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. "It is widely supported by creator groups, consumer organizations and the businesses that drive Canada's economy."

A key element of the Copyright Modernization Act is the requirement that Parliament review the Copyright Act every five years. "This will serve as a reminder to current and future Parliaments and governments of the important role that modern and updated copyright laws play in our economy," the news release issued by the government states.

Canadian Government Reintroduces Copyright Modernization Act

The Copyright Act of Canada was originally passed in 1921. It would not be updated significantly until 1988 and again in 1997. With the increased importance of the digital music era on intellectual property rights and protection came a vigorous campaign to update the law. The first three attempts failed: C-60 in 2005, C-61 in 2008 and C-32 in 2011.

Music Canada, which represents the interests of the four major labels, issued its own statement upon news of the passage of Bill C-11.

"We never doubted that we would see this day but it has been a long road, in particular for creators, whose livelihoods have been deeply eroded by piracy," said president Graham Henderson. "We commend the government and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore in particular, for their tenacity in pursuing a modern copyright framework and legislation that will enable Canada to ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaties.

"Utilizing the tools provided by this legislation, in conjunction with our efforts to ensure consumers have various legal digital services to choose from in Canada, we will now turn our attention to rebuilding the marketplace for recorded music."

Billboard also reached out to the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) for its own comment, but had not heard back by press time.