It’s a copyright summer sizzler again!

Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino is the Founder and Director of IP Osgoode. 

At long last, the Canadian Federal Government today introduced the Copyright Modernization Act (or Bill C-32), the much-awaited copyright reform bill. The bill comes after about a year of national copyright consultations and about two years after its predecessor, C-61 was introduced, and about five years after its pre-predecessor C-60 was introduced (yes, it’s been a long time in the making!). So, does practice make perfect?

From an initial impression, the government has taken seriously the need to consider a variety of copyright voices. A technical briefing was helpfully organized by the Federal Government this afternoon in both French and English languages where Jean-Pierre Blais (Canadian Heritage) and Susan Bincoletto (Industry Canada) gave a brief “table of contents” approach to the bill. In this afternoon’s session, the government emphasized that the bill seeks to achieve four main objectives: (1) modernize the Copyright Act in line with advancements in technology and enable Canada to adhere to international standards, (2) address the interests of Canadians, and specifically content creators and consumers, (3) be “forward-looking” to stimulate economic activity and attract investment into Canada, and (4) do all of this in a technically-neutral manner so that our copyright law is adaptable to Canada’s evolving ecosystem.

So does the bill fulfill these noted objectives? I along with many others will no doubt be digesting the finer details of the bill in the weeks to come. As Susan Bincoletto said today, this is the beginning of a “dialogue” and we hope that you will share your views with us on IP Osgoode. Stay tuned also to our students and other experts who will be commenting on the site in the days to come. We are making next week, “Copyright modernization week” on our blog: our IPilogue editors will be taking the helm in populating the digital dialogue and inviting your thoughts!

  1. I share Emir’s concern. There are some interesting (but still piecemeal and restrictively defined) new exceptions, but the extensive protections envisaged for TPMs threaten to seriously undermine both proposed and existing exceptions. I have written elsewhere that any protection afforded to digital locks should be built around user rights — it’s extremely disappointing to see that, instead, the bill consistently prioritizes TPM protection.

  2. TPM protection is far from the only problem in Bill C-32. Far more troubling, in my view, is the creation of many new exceptions or “users’ rights” without any corresponding or additional opportunities for creators to be compensated for the use of their works. I tend to support licences over locks, as do many creators, but I can’t support a bill that seems to envision a digital economy in which promising new revenue streams appear to be off limits. Moreover, the attempted elimination of existing revenue streams (for example, the surprising attack on the broadcast mechanical tariff, a major source of revenue for songwriters and music publishers) and the continued refusal to expand the private copying levy to reflect the realities of home copying – even while introducing a broad new exception for “format shifting” – betrays a troubling policy imbalance at the heart of the bill. This dynamic will need to be addressed very seriously if the government truly intends to achieve a fair, balanced and technologically neutral Copyright Act. For the moment, creators are left out in the cold.

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