Regulatory: Bringing Canada to the digital age

The enactment of the Canadian Copyright Modernization Act

With the Royal Assent of Bill C-11 on June 29, and the expected proclamation of most of its provisions, Canada joins a list of countries that recognize the importance and challenges of protecting copyright in the digital age. As digital technology has dramatically transformed the use and transmission of intellectual property through new and ever-changing technological means, revisions to Canadian copyright law were imperative, yet long overdue. The bill, with the short title Copyright Modernization Act (CMA), was the third attempt to modernize Canada’s Copyright Act, after two failed attempts in 2005 and 2008.

Aligning Canadian copyright law with international standards, the CMA ratifies two treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). Key amendments in this bill address issues confronted by copyright owners and creators trying to protect their rights in the digital age, while still balancing the right of users and consumers to have reasonable access to copyright materials. The CMA also provides additional recognition on the role played by digital intermediaries, such as Internet service providers (ISPs), in the dissemination of copyright works.

Technical protection measures and anti-pirating measures

The CMA introduces provisions that prohibit the removal of, or tampering with, technical protection measures (TPMs, also commonly known as “digital locks”) and new measures that allow copyright holders to pursue IP “pirates.” TPMs may be built into digital music, DVDs, software, video games, websites with online subscription services and other media and technology products to protect the underlying work from unauthorized copying. The CMA attributes liability to persons who set up services to enable infringement of copyright materials or market or distribute TPM-circumvention tools such as digital lock-cracking software.

Contributing Author

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Francis Chang

Francis Chang is a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. He advises a broad range of the Firm's local and foreign clients involved in various...

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