Canada passes copyright law updates

Changes including users' expanded rights and modest gains for copyright holders are the first in 15 years

The Parliament of Canada last made significant updates to the country’s Copyright Act in 1997. Since then, three successive governments have tried and failed to pass bills that would update the legislation for the digital era and better align it with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty commitments. In June 2012, the legislature—the first majority government Canada has seen in years—finally succeeded in passing Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act, and most of its provisions went into effect Nov. 7.

“The problem in copyright legislation is that it is always interest-driven,” says Sheldon Burshtein, an IP and technology law partner at Blakes. “The libraries, the jukebox industry, the cable TV and radio folks all have their own interests and bones to pick, so this has dragged along for 15 years of hearings and debate, with provisions added on and subtracted. And in those 15 years, the technology has changed dramatically, so it evolved as it went.”

User Gains

The act’s fair-dealing exception, for instance, has been expanded to include education, parody or satire, which join the existing exceptions of research and private study, criticism, review and news reporting.

Associate Editor

Melissa Maleske

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