Canadians Better Protected From “Copywrath” Starting Today

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As noted by Prof. Geist ealier today, the consumer-related aspects of Canada’s C-11 copyright bill come into force today.

Specifically, he lists the following provisions gained by Canadian Citizens.

  • The addition of education, parody, and satire as fair dealing purposes.
  • The creation of a non-commercial user generated content provision that creates a legal safe harbour for creators of non-commercial UGC (provided they meet four conditions in the law) and for sites that host such content.
  • The adoption of several new consumer exceptions including time shifting (recording of television shows), format shifting, and the making of backup copies.
  • Changes to the statutory damages rules that distinguish between commercial and non-commercial infringement. The law now includes a cap of $5000 for all non-commercial infringement. The change reduces the likelihood of lawsuits against individuals for non-commercial activities and would apply to educational institutions engaged in non-commercial activity and significantly reduce their potential liability for infringement.
  • The inclusion of an exception for publicly available materials on the Internet for education. This covers the content found on millions of websites that can now be communicated and reproduced by educational institutions without the need for permission or compensation.
  • The adoption of a technology-neutral approach for the reproduction of materials for display purposes. The current law is limited to manual reproduction or on an overhead projector. The provision may be applicable in the online learning context and open the door to digitization activities.
  • The implementation of a distance learning provision, though use of the exception features significant restrictions that require the destruction of lessons at the conclusion of the course.
  • The inclusion of a restrictive digital inter-library loans provision that will allow for digital transmission of materials on an inter-library basis, increasing access to materials that have been acquired by university libraries.
  • A new exception for public performances in schools, which will reduce licensing costs for educational institutions.

Many of these are laws people elsewhere take for granted, or which have been assumed to have already been legal by Canadians (such as format- and time-shifting).

However, the most important part might well be the $5000 cap for non-commercial infringement. It will not only prevent any massive awards, such as those in the Tenenbaum and Thomas cases, but will significantly hinder any attempts by copyright trolls (who now know that no matter what, they won’t be getting any $1.5M awards)

There is still more to come in the bill, especially with a public consultation over the proposed notice-and-notice rules, but it’s a good start, especially from a bill that had some really bad analogies when being debated.

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