The government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has resubmitted a revision of the Canadian digital copyright law (C-11) to Parliament. The bill is being described by Canadian media as pretty much the same as the previous bill submitted by Harper's government the last time. This time the bill will probably pass.
That bill, C-32, died on the vine when the 2010 Parliament dissolved without formally voting on it. Like the last bill the biggest problem with the new bill are the provisions regarding digital locks. Like our Digital Millennium Copyright Act, this bill aims to introduce DRM anti-circumvention provisions that make a variety of activities naughty.
"Our Government received a strong mandate from Canadians to put in place measures to ensure Canada's digital economy remains strong," declared James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages as he introduced the announcement of law C-11—The Copyright Modernization Act. "This bill delivers a common-sense balance between the interests of consumers and the rights of the creative community."
Even though critics hate the bill, they concede that the government will get its way this time around and the bill will be passed.
"After years of false starts, it is clear that this copyright bill will pass, likely before the end of the year" says Canadian law professor Michael Geist. "While there is much to like in the bill, the unwillingness to stand up for Canadians on digital locks represents a huge failure. Moreover, it sends the message that when pressed, Canada will cave."
But the biggest push for the law isn't from Canadian lawmakers – it's from the White House, as revealed by a WikiLeaks cable that showed our government lobbying Canada to commit to stronger IP enforcement.
The bill says that digital locks can only be hacked for law enforcement and national security activities, reverse engineering in the name of software compatibility, security testing, encryption research, for the protection of personal information, for temporary recordings made by broadcast undertakings, access for persons with perceptual disabilities, and unlocking a wireless device.
The bill at least allows consumers to unlock their mobile devices to change carriers but this will not override any agreements between consumers and their service providers. The bill also says that the government will retain the right "through regulatory power, to provide new exceptions to the digital lock prohibition to ensure access where the public interest might be served or where anti-competitive behavior arises."
The law puts considerably more pressure on ISPs to deal with accusations of copyright infringement. It compels all ISPs to participate in a "notice and notice" system where an ISP will receive a notice from a copyright owner that one of its subscribers is infringing. The ISP will be required to forward that notice to the subscriber and to keep a record of the identity of the alleged infringer. ISPs that fail to retain such records or to forward notices will face civil damages.
The bill also adds exemptions for journalists, artists, librarians, and educators including fair dealing exemptions for things such as parody and satire, performer and production copyright protection for sound recordings extended to 50 years from the time of publication or performance, protection for non-commercial Internet mash-ups, protections for using copyrighted material in classrooms, and a new provision to allow librarians to digitize content and electronically send it to patrons via interlibrary loan.
Source: Ars Technica