Hollywood Studios Applaud Canadian Anti-Piracy Legislation

Ramzi Haidar/AFP/Getty Images

Ottawa has introduced long-awaited copyright reforms that bars local consumers from picking digital locks and proposes a first-time "notice and notice" regime to stop online pirates.

TORONTO – The major Hollywood studios on Thursday welcomed Ottawa reintroducing copyright reform legislation to protect against digital piracy.

"We support the government's commitment to give copyright owners the tools they need to combat online content theft, and promote creativity, innovation and legitimate business models,” Wendy Noss, executive director of the Motion Picture Association of Canada, Hollywood’s point-person in Canada, said after the federal government introduced Bill C-11, also known as the Copyright Modernization Act.

Previous federal elections, including the last one in March 2011, delayed long-awaited copyright reform legislation here.

Canadian exhibitors, major U.S. music labels and video game developers also lined up to applaud the government action on copyright reform, which includes a proposed first-time "notice-and-notice" regime where Internet service providers (ISPs) are compelled to tell subscribers suspected of piracy that they are breaking the law.

That stops short of the “notice and takedown” regime used south of the border.

At the same time, Canadian ISPs that fail to retain subscriber traffic records or to forward notices to suspected pirates will be liable for civil damages if Bill C-11 passes through Parliament into law.

Elsewhere, Ottawa’s latest proposed copyright reform legislation very much falls in line with U.S.-style protections against piracy.

Bill C-11, for example, proposes to bar Canadians from picking a digital lock on music, film or any entertainment product protected from duplication.

That departs from a Canadian legal tradition that stopped short of pursuing consumers that use circumvention devices to access or copy content as Ottawa looked to balance the interests of consumers and copyright holders.

The new rules also proposes to bar anyone from making, importing or selling devices that can break digital locks.

The proposed legislation also seeks to distinguish between personal and commercial use of recorded TV, radio and online content by Canadians.

“Canadians will also be able to copy any legitimately acquired music, film, or other works onto any device or medium (such as MP3 players) for their private use, and make backup copies of these works,” the federal government signaled Thursday in its legislation announcement.

Bill C-11 will now move through the committee stage of Parliament in Ottawa, and undergo likely amendments, before a vote is taken on whether to pass the legislation into law, likely by the end of the year.