Canada proposes digital copyright legislation

Bill C-32 aims to amend federal act, ban cracking digital locks

TORONTO -- Canada looked Wednesday to get off Washington's piracy black list by introducing a made-in-U.S.A. copyright reform package.

After long been shamed by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative into cracking down on copyright infringement, Ottawa's new Bill C-32 proposes to amend the federal Copyright Act to bar Canadians from picking a digital lock on music, film or any entertainment product protected from duplication.

Canada has previously stopped short of going after consumers that sell or use circumvention devices to access or copy content owing to Ottawa seeking to balance the interests of consumers and copyright holders.

No more. Canadians that crack digital locks to shift digital content from a CD to their iPod, or move a TV show from a PVR to a DVD, will be breaking the law if the proposed legislation is passed by the House of Commons in Ottawa.

The long-awaited reforms to limit consumer protections will also narrow Canada's fair dealing provision, albeit with extensions for the recording of content for news reporting or parody, for example, if copyright infringement is not intended.

Ottawa's Copyright Modernization Act also contains a "Youtube clause" to enable Canadians to mash up content for uploading to online video sites like Youtube as long as the re-use is not for commercial exploitation.

At the same time, Bill C-32 would constrain Canadians in how they load songs onto their iPods, use PVRS and/or duplicate electronic books or other emerging digital content.

The Copyright Act amendments aim to bring Canada into compliance with the World Intellectual Property Organization treaty that Ottawa signed in 1997.

The latest amendments to the federal Copyright Act follow Canada being placed by the U.S. Trade Representative on its "priority watch list" for piracy, alongside China and Cuba.

To get back in Washington's good books, Ottawa's proposed new copyright rules include a first-time "notice-and-notice" regime where copyright holders can warn Internet service providers of suspected piracy, and the ISP will then be compelled to tell their customer they are breaking the law.

Bill C32 will now go to committee for likely amendments before members of Parliament get a chance to vote on the new legislation.
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