In what is being painted as a controversial move by the Canadian press, the Canadian government reintroduced the Copyright Modernization Act on Thursday (Sept. 29), which provides a broad revamp of copyright law in that country.
Among the most controversial element of the law is that it allows right holders to use digital locks to prevent unauthorized access to the content. In addition, the bill will prevent the manufacture, importation and sales of devices that can circumvent such locks.
While digital locks are a moot point in practical terms when it comes to CDs and music downloads, digital rights management still plays a role in subscription services. Moreover, the law creates a new category of civil liability that targets those who enable online piracy. In another move, it sets the copyright term at 50 years from the time of publication of a musical performance.
The bill also provides copyright owners with distribution rights, which enables them to control the first sale of every copy of their work.
According to a press release issued by the Canadian Government, the legislation balances the need of creators and users and brings the country in line with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Internet treaties, for which Canada is a signatory.
The act had been introduced in the prior Parliament session. Government officials say they want to fast-track the legislation this time around, according to press reports.
"The bottom line is Canada needs this new copyright act to protect the intellectual property of our artists and the music industry businesses that represent them," reads a statement issued by the Canadian Independent Music Assn. president Stuart Johnston.
On the other hand, the proposed legislation looks like it eliminates copyright for ephemeral copies so radio will no longer need to compensate copyright owners for making temporary copies of sound recordings required for digital operations. It also allows copyrighted material to be incorporated into new creations as long as its done for non-commercial purposes, according to the government website page on the bill.
It also makes legal the existing consumer practice of copying a CD to an MP3 player and/or burn other CD copies for their own use.
It also expands the definition of fair-use of copyrighted material so that educators can use material found on the Internet. Additionally, it makes Internet service providers exempt from liability when they act strictly as intermediaries in communication, caching and hosting activities, but it also requires the ISPs to discourage infringing uses. For example, they will have to forward any notice they receive from a copyright owner to a subscriber and retain a record of the notification for potential use in any court proceedings.
Moreover, it will require Parliament to review the Copyright Act every five years.