Canada Copyright Bill C-11 Returns With Changes For Final House Vote
A bill that will update Canada's copyright laws is heading back to the House of Commons with amendments as early as Thursday morning — but without the changes opposition MPs had hoped for.
That puts bill C-11 one step closer to becoming law, with two remaining votes in the House before it moves to the Senate.
Glenn Thibeault, the chair of the special committee that looked at the legislation, said he plans to present the report as soon as possible, which would be Thursday when House business begins. The committee finished its clause-by-clause reading of the bill Tuesday, accepting eight changes from government MPs but defeating all amendments suggested by the NDP and Liberals.
Steve Anderson, national co-ordinator of Openmedia.ca, a national campaign for open and low-cost internet, says the bill is a win for consumers over all, but the group is still concerned about how the legislation handles so-called digital locks on copyrighted content. C-11 makes no provisions to allow consumers to break digital locks on material they've bought.
Opposition MPs tried to exempt users who break locks for lawful reasons, to make a backup copy for example, but Conservative MPs wouldn't budge.
Anderson says there were groups lobbying for stricter provisions, like access to subscriber data from internet service providers or the ability to terminate internet service for first-time offenders who are convicted of violating the copyright law, and he's pleased those changes didn't make it into the bill.
"Until the bill is passed we'll certainly be encouraging the government to consider especially removing the digital locks provision or just altering it so that it's more fair to Canadians... and certainly we'll be encouraging Canadians to speak out," he said.
"The fact that the digital locks provisions weren't revoked, I think it's a step backwards in terms of our free expression and open access to communications."
Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore has defended the digital locks provision, arguing it's up to content producers whether they want to put locks to their material. Creators working in music, for example, tend not to use the digital locks while video game producers use them more widely.
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The Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11, will allow Canadians to copy content from one device to another, such as from a CD to a computer or an iPod. This provision, however, does not apply to content protected by a digital lock, which is any technological measure, such as encryption or digital signatures, that rights holders use to restrict access to or prevent the copying or playing of CDs, DVDs, e-books, digital files and other material. (Ryan Anson/AFP/Getty Images) <em>Slides use files from CBC</em>
The act will allow Canadians to record television, radio and internet broadcasts and listen to or view them later on whatever device they choose but not for the purposes of building up a library or for commercial use. This provision does not extend to content that is offered "on-demand" (streamed video, for example) or protected by a digital lock.
The act will allow Canadians to make a backup copy of content to protect against loss or damage -- again unless that content is protected by a digital lock or offered as an on-demand service.
The act will allow Canadians to incorporate legally acquired copyrighted content into their own user-generated work, as long as it's not for commercial gain and does not negatively impact the markets for the original material or the artist's reputation. An example would be the posting of your own mash-up of a Lady Gaga song and, say, a Beyoncé number on YouTube. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Clear Channel)
The act will allow Canadians to use copyrighted content for the purposes of education, satire or parody. This expands what is known as the fair dealing provisions of the existing law -- which until now covered only research, private study, criticism and news reporting. (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
The act will allow Canadians to copy copyrighted material that is part of an online or distance learning course in order to listen to or view it at a later time. Under this provision, teachers can provide digital copies of copyrighted material to students as part of the course but only if they and the students destroy the course material within 30 days of the end of the course. Teachers are also expected to take reasonable measures to prevent the copying and distribution of the material other than for the purposes of the course. Critics have referred to this part of the Act as the "book burning" provisions. (Flickr: pcorreia)
The act will allow librarians to digitize print material and send a copy electronically to users, who can view the material on a computer or print one copy. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
The act will allow consumers who are disabled to adapt copyrighted material to a format they can more easily use. (Pierre-Henry DESHAYES/AFP/Getty Images)
The act will prohibit the manufacture, importation and sale of technologies, devices and services designed primarily for the purpose of breaking digital locks. This includes technology designed to allow you to play foreign-bought DVDs on your North American player, for example.
The act will prohibit the circumventing of digital locks, even for legal purposes -- such as the education or satire uses protected by other sections of the Act. This is one of the most controversial parts of the legislation. Many experts have criticized the government for not including an exemption that would allow for the bypassing of digital locks for legitimate purposes, such as the copying of parts of digitally locked textbooks to view on another device or for use in an assignment.
The act will require internet service providers to notify their customers that they are violating the copyright law if a copyright holder informs the ISP of possible piracy. The ISP is required to retain "relevant information" about the user such as their identity, and that information could potentially be released to the copyright holder with a court order.
The act will exempt ISPs and search engines from liability for the copyright violations of their users if they are acting strictly as intermediaries in the hosting, caching or communication of copyrighted content.
The act will prohibit a person to provide a service over the internet or another digital network that the person "knows or should have known is designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement." This clause is targeted at websites created for the purpose of distributing copyrighted content, such as the many popular peer-to-peer file-sharing sites used to swap video and audio, and is meant to "make liability for enabling of infringement clear."
Commercial vs. Personal
The act will differentiate between a commercial violation of copyright law and an individual violation. Individuals found violating the law could be liable for penalties between $100 and $5,000, which is below the current $20,000 maximum.