Canadian legislature to rule on controversial copyright bill

Some have dubbed C-11 “Canada’s SOPA”

As the furor over copyright legislation dies down in the U.S., the controversy is heating up north of the border, where the Canadian legislature is debating the controversial Bill C-11.

The proposed legislation, first introduced in September 2011, represents the third attempt to strengthen Canada’s copyright laws since 2008.

Existing Canadian copyright laws (Canadian laws? The proposed laws or the ones currently on the books?) are known for their leniency. The U.S.-based International Intellectual Property Alliance placed Canada on a list of countries suffering from “rampant online and physical piracy of copyrighted works and severe market access barriers.” The American government, on behalf of the U.S. movie, music and software industries, also has pressured Canada to crack down on copyright infringement.

Now, Canada’s own content producers are fighting for much stricter copyright restrictions in C-11, which bears some resemblance to SOPA. The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), for instance, seeks to hold social media sites, search engines, blogging platforms and other sites liable for hosting copyrighted third-party content. CIMA also is attempting to lengthen copyright terms, increase potential damages and remove fair use protections, according to law professor Michael Geist. Another controversial provision would ban the breaking of digital locks, even on content that users have purchased legally (e.g. foreign DVDs).

This week, a House of Commons committee will hear proposed amendments to the bill. A ruling is expected before the end of March.

Alanna Byrne

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