CANADA'S UPDATED COPYRIGHT BILL has been published with proposals intended to put space between it and the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The current iteration of Canada's copyright law, known as Bill C-32, would legalise back-ups and online mash-ups as fair use, as long as it's non-commercial in nature.
Unfortunately, it also follows the draconian DMCA line on Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) enforcement. Come on Canada, get a grip.
The current proposal would legalise time-shifting, format-shifting and back-ups. Back-ups are fine if no DRM has been circumvented and the source material is a legal copy.
Youtube mash-ups or "Non-commercial User-generated content" are legal, even if the source material is copyrighted. Anyone putting a mash-up together would have to name the copyrighted artists and can mash as long as there's no "substantial adverse effect" on sales of the original.
Parodies are also given the green light as fair dealing. So this could mean that Hitler meme would be legal in Canada, after Constantin Film had the Downfall film removed from Youtube.
The C-32 Bill does bypass DMCA style "notice and take down", opting for a softer approach. ISPs will only have to let their users know that a big content company claims copyright infringement, but the ISPs won't have to take content down. This removes the onus of responsibility away from the ISPs. They won't legally be obligated to act as Internet police and can maintain a healthy distance as a service provider only.
The bill does stick with US style DRM legislation. There will be no mitigating circumstances like fair use for getting around DRM enforcement.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) networks also get a kicking. The draft bill states that infringement takes place if a person uses the "Internet or another digital network" as a service "primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement."
Dr Michael Geist, Canada's research chair of Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, has blogged his reaction to the C-32 bill.
"The government has caved to U.S. pressure and brought back rules that mirror those found in the United States," he wrote.
"The foundational principle of the new bill is that anytime a digital lock is used, it trumps virtually all other rights," said Dr Geist
The bill has not been ratified yet and there's still hope for Canadians to move away from adopting a carbon copy of the DMCA. The Canadian government did a 180 two years ago. It delayed the copyright bill and caved in to pressure from anti-DRM campaigners, including Dr Geist, who helped set up the "Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group". The group collected enough signatories to delay a mirrored version of the DMCA. µ
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