The Canadian government is expected to start a consultation process on changes to the country’s Copyright Act in mid-June, with the goal of introducing a new bill by the end of the year, sources say.
The consultation process is expected to allow written submissions from interest groups on what the law should accomplish, with the potential for only a handful of in-person hearings on the matter. A new bill would be introduced before Christmas, but it could still take several months from that point before it becomes law.
The Copyright Act, which the entertainment industry says is outdated and does not provide adequate protection for music and movies in the Internet age, has been a highly contentious issue pitting reformers against those worried that Canada’s law could follow the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Canada has recently been placed on an intellectual property watch list by the U.S. Trade Representatives for not updating its copyright laws.
Canada has twice tried to update the law – with bill C-60 and C-61. In both instances elections were called before the bills could become law.
One music industry source said the consultation process is positive if it helps avoid some of the characteristics of bill C-61, including provisions protecting Internet service providers from liability over copyright content transferred on their networks through peer-to-peer and torrent services.
However, others were skeptical that a new bill would become law, noting the past two have died when elections were called, adding the current minority Canadian Conservative government under Stephen Harper could be defeated.