TORONTO (The Hollywood Reporter) — In a move welcomed by music labels, the Canadian government on March 24 proposed amendments to the federal Copyright Act designed to strengthen copyright protection in the digital age and clarify the legal liability of Internet service providers.
Ottawa only issued a statement and background information on the proposed rule changes — which conform to protections required by the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Copyright and Performances and Phonograms treaties — but that was enough for Canadian Recording Industry Assn. chief Graham Henderson to praise the proposed legislative revisions.
“Canada is one step closer to having a copyright law that will reflect the realities of the digital marketplace and allow the music industry a chance to prosper,” Henderson said.
The proposed amendments include a “notice and notice” rule that will require ISPs to pass on to subscribers a notice from a music company or other copyright holder informing them that they have posted or shared copyright infringing material. The alleged infringer could then voluntarily remove the content.
In return for notifying the copyright holder that they had forwarded the notice of infringement, ISPs would be granted a safe harbor from liability.
But the federal government stopped short of adopting the U.S. “notice and takedown” rule that forces ISPs to identify the alleged infringer by name and address for possible prosecution, remove the subscriber from their network, or take down the infringing material themselves.
Henderson insisted the made-in-Canada “notice and notice” went far enough to satisfy industry concerns, at least for now.
“Currently, we send [ISPs] notices and say, ‘Here’s someone who has a pre-release of an important record, will you please do something,’ and we don’t hear back,” he said. “Now we will at least get a notice that they have sent the notice.”
The Canadian music industry last year failed to convince the federal court to force ISPs to identify alleged file sharers for prosecution.
The latest copyright amendments from Ottawa similarly force the music labels to pursue serial copyright infringers through the court, rather than place the burden of pursuit and takedown on ISPs.
The federal government will invite industry comments on its Copyright Act amendments once they are introduced in Parliament.