Canadians will be allowed to copy legally acquired music to their iPods and computers but will be barred from getting around digital locks, according to draft copyright legislation proposed by the country's minority Conservative government.

The bill, which was introduced in Parliament yesterday (June 2), is intended to modernize copyright laws that were last updated in 1997. At present, it is illegal for Canadian citizens to copy CDs onto digital music players.

"Simply put, our law governing copyright has not kept pace with the breakneck speed at which digital technologies are moving," Industry Minister Tony Clement told a televised news conference in Montreal.

Ottawa said the bill would give copyright owners stronger legal tools to go after online pirate sites. Creators of content would have the right to prevent someone else from posting their work online without permission.

Clement said the music industry did not want to pursue ordinary fans but rather "the big bad guys ... people that put online millions of songs or millions of files or millions of movies."

There are no guarantees that all the proposed changes will become law since the minority Conservative government does not control the House of Commons and needs the support of opposition legislators.

The bill would also cut the penalties that companies could seek for most private infringement of copyrights. Statutory damages would be reduced to a one-time payment of between C$100 ($96) and C$5,000 ($4,800), compared with the maximum current punishment of C$20,000 ($19,100) for a single offense.

Clement said the government was "legitimizing everyday behavior of Canadians, such as recording TV shows on PVRs and uploading legally purchased songs to MP3 players".

The bill would require Internet service providers to take part in a so-called "notice and notice" regime, obliging them to warn subscribers who were allegedly breaking the law by posting banned material.

The left-leaning opposition New Democrats said the bill was designed to appease large corporate rights holders.

"Under this bill, the only rights you will have as a consumer are the rights the U.S. corporate lobby gives you," Member of Parliament Charlie Angus said in a statement.