Canada revising its Copyright Act

Previous redo met with opposition on social networks

TORONTO -- Canada is expected to kick off the reworking of its Copyright Act next week, a process that will include a series of public consultations across the country, according to sources familiar with the plan.

The Canadian Conservative government had previously planned to introduce an amended Copyright Act in late 2007, but the bill met with vocal opposition from a large group of Canadians, many of who used Facebook and other social media to denounce the planned law. Sources said the government plans to involve the public this time, with consultations in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa. There will be a social media element of the consultation and extensive use of the Internet, sources said.

"The goal is to have a bill ready for the fall," said one source.

Past bills have faltered when the governments that introduced them became embroiled in elections. Bill C-60, introduced under Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, disappeared when he called an election and was defeated by the Conservatives under Stephen Harper. The Harper bill, introduced in December 2007, failed to become law when the government called a snap election in the hope of gaining a majority.

The Harper government has said since then that a new bill would be introduced. The heat was turned up on the government in recent months when the U.S. Trade Representatives put Canada on a blacklist of countries that failed to protect copyrights.

The Canadian music industry has continually blamed the country's outdated copyright laws for what it contends is a higher piracy rate than other developed nations.