03 Juin 2010

The Copyright Modernization Act is introduced

by Michael Schacter
Mitchell Gattuso G.P.

In a follow-up to the national consultations on copyright that took place last summer, the federal government introduced yesterday Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act.


In its third attempt to amend the Copyright Act, much of the focus is on digital media, such as movies, music and television. The government has attempted to placate consumers on the one hand, who expressed their desire for the freedom to use their purchased media as they see fit, and media companies on the other hand, who seek to protect their business interests. The amendments legalise certain behaviour that is already commonplace, such as:
  • format shifting (i.e. transferring your CD collection to your MP3 player);
  • time shifting (i.e. recording a TV show to your personal video recorder to watch at a later time); and
  • a « YouTube clause » that allows certain mashups of copyrighted material.

Additionally, the concept of fair dealing, similar to the fair use exception in the United States, will be expanded to include parody, satire and educational exceptions.

Finally, of particular interest, Bill C-32 forbids users to circumvent digital locks (also known as digital rights management or DRM), similar to the requirements of the United States Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). This provision is likely to cause heated debate, given that it takes priority over most other rights, including those listed above. For example, consumers will be prohibited from transferring their collections of DVDs to a computer, as most commercial DVDs are encrypted.

The text of Bill C-32 is expected to be published within the next few hours on Parliament’s website, http://www.parl.gc.ca/.

Neutral citation: [2010] CRL 8

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