Third Time the Charm for Canadian Copyright Bill?

Canadian Ministry of Industry Tony Clement (pictured) and Heritage Minister James Moore outlined new copyright legislation yesterday, and the pair’s choice of venue to introduce Bill C-32 might assist in indicating just which side (business or consumer) the legislation tends to favor.

While legislation is typically introduced amid the backdrop of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, C-32 was introduced at the Montreal offices of Electronic Arts, which the Financial Post says was “a member of a lobby group that is pushing for a hard line approach to copyright.”

Among the Bill’s provisions, according to CBC.ca, is a measure that would criminalize the breaking of digital locks contained in media or devices. Shifting purchased media from one device to another, or from a CD to a device, would be legal however.

Consumers would also be able to back-up content, to protect against hardware failure. YouTube mashups would be permitted as well, as long as they are not used for commercial gain. A “notice-and-notice” protection against online copyright infringers would have copyright holders notify an infringer’s ISP, who would, in turn, notify the customer of their violation. The copyright holder could then obtain the infringer’s personal information via a court order.

ISP’s, and search engines, would not be liable for the copyright violations of their users.

The legislation also differentiates between commercial and individual copyright infringements. The fine for individuals would be between $100 and $5,000, well below a current maximum figure of $20,000.

Entertainment Software Association of Canada Executive Director Danielle Parr praised the proposed Bill, stating, “Promoting piracy under the guise of ‘user rights’ does nothing to defend the livelihood of thousands of Canadians who rely on turning great ideas into world class entertainment."

The University of Ottawa’s Michael Geist called the Bill “flawed, but flexible.” Regarding the legislation’s digital lock verbiage, Geist wrote, “…the government has caved to U.S. pressure and brought back rules that mirror those found in the United States. These rules limit more than just copying as they can also block Canadian consumers from even using products they have purchased.“

He continued, “The foundational principle of the new bill is that anytime a digital lock is used, it trumps virtually all other rights. This means that both the existing fair dealing rights and Bill C-32’s new rights all cease to function effectively so long as the rights holder places a digital lock on their content or device.”

Geist also pointed out that someone in the government forgot to renew the URL balancedcopyright.ca, which the pirate Party grabbed. The government instead set up shop on balancedcopyright.gc.ca.

Clement indicated that Bill C-32 “is not a done deal and that he hopes to further discuss it with opposition parties over the summer.” Similar copyright bills withered and died in both 2005 (C-60) and 2008 (C-61).

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