Canadian Heritage Minister Liza Frulla and Industry Minister David Emerson introduced long-awaited revisions to Canada's Copyright Act in the House of Commons today (June 20) before parliament breaks

Canadian Heritage Minister Liza Frulla and Industry Minister David Emerson introduced long-awaited revisions to Canada's Copyright Act in the House of Commons today (June 20) before parliament breaks for summer holidays later this week.

The draft bill advances Canada's long-standing commitment to ratify two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties. While the treaties were signed in 1997, they have yet to be ratified by Canada. The two treaties -- the Performances and Phonogram Treaty and the Copyright Treaty -- deal with copyright protection in the digital age.

The revisions make it an infringement to knowingly sell, rent, trade, distribute or communicate copies of copyrighted works made for private use. This does not, however, alter a person's right to make a personal copy -- which includes the downloading of a file from a peer-to-peer network -- but sets out some tough limitations on what users will be entitled to do with those copies.

Detractors of the draft bill say that it pointedly fails to provide digital businesses with adequate protection from downloaders because Internet service providers have only limited responsibility for piracy occurring on their sites.

ISPs obtained clear provisions in the draft legislation that they are not liable for caching or the hosting of third-party content. There is also the introduction of a notice and notice system which would obligate ISPs to send a notice if there is a claim of copyright infringement. ISPs would have to retain records that would allow the identity of the person to whom the electronic location belongs to be determined. If ISPs fail to abide by these provisions, they may face statutory damages of CAN$5,000 ($4,048) or CAN$10,000 ($8,096).

"We've waited a very long time for this bill," says Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Assn. "This draft legislation takes several key steps to usher in a new era for Canada's music industry, to provide the certainty that legitimate digital services need and to restore the balance that has been missing on the Internet."

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