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Copyright Modernization Act re-introduced

The federal government re-introduced copyright legislation Friday with ramificatiosn for social media, balancing the needs of creators versus the users.

Copyright Modernization Act will help make Canada's copyright laws more modern, flexible, and in line with current international standards.

Modernizing Canada's copyright laws is an important for the digital economy. Each year that Canada goes without modern copyright laws, the need for such modernization becomes more evident.

The explosive popularity of social media and new technologies — such as tablet computers, mobile devices and digital book readers — has changed the way Canadians create and use copyrighted material.

This bill recognizes the many new ways in which teachers, students, artists, companies, consumers, families, and copyright owners use technology. It gives creators and copyright owners the tools to protect their work and to grow their businesses using new and innovative business models.

It provides clearer rules that will enable all Canadians to fully participate in the digital economy, now and into the future.

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What the bill will do

This bill will implement the rights and protections of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Internet treaties and give Canadian creators and consumers the tools they need to remain competitive internationally.

The WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, negotiated in 1996, established new rights and protections for authors, sound recording makers and performers of audio works.

Canadian creators, performers, and artists will benefit from the full range of rights and protections in the WIPO Internet treaties, including an exclusive right to control how their copyrighted material is made available on the Internet.

In addition, the term of copyright protection for sound recordings for performers and producers will be set at 50 years from the time of publication of a musical performance.

The bill makes photographers the first owner of copyright on their photographs, which will be protected for 50 years after the death of the photographer. People who commission photographs will be able to make personal or non-commercial use of the photos unless there is a contract that specifies otherwise.

Protecting the incentive to create
Provisions in the bill strengthen the ability of copyright owners to control the uses of their online works in order to prevent widespread illicit use and to promote creativity, innovation, and legitimate business models.

Such provisions include legal protection for rights management information and a new category of civil liability that targets those who enable online piracy.

Copyright owners who choose to apply technological protection measures (TPMs), such as digital locks, to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted material will benefit from new protection against circumvention, or breaking locks.

New rules will also prevent the manufacture, importation, and sale of devices that can break digital locks.

Users and consumers

Canadians will be able to record television, radio, and Internet programming in order to enjoy it at a later time, with no restrictions as to the device or medium they wish to use.

Canadians will also be able to copy any legitimately acquired music, film, or other works onto any device or medium (such as MP3 players) for their private use, and make backup copies of these works.

These provisions do not apply to on-demand services or to material protected by a digital lock.

Canadians will also be able to incorporate existing copyrighted material in the creation of new works, such as Internet mash-ups, as long as:

it is done for non-commercial purposes;

the existing material was legitimately acquired; and

the work they create is not a substitute for the original material, and does not have a substantial negative impact on the markets for the original material, or on the creator's reputation.

Supporting the sharing of ideas online
The bill will clarify that Internet service providers (ISPs) and search engines are exempt from liability when they act strictly as intermediaries in communication, caching, and hosting activities.

The proposed legislation will ensure that services that enable infringement will not benefit from the liability limitations afforded to ISPs and search engines.

Because ISPs are often the only parties that can identify and warn subscribers when they are being accused of infringing copyright, the new provisions will compel all ISPs to participate in the "notice and notice" regime.

In other words, when an ISP receives notice from a copyright owner that one of its subscribers is allegedly hosting or sharing infringing material, the ISP will be required to forward the notice to the subscriber and to keep a record of such relevant information as the identity of the alleged infringer. ISPs that fail to retain such records or to forward notices would be liable for civil damages.

Bringing broadcasting rules up-to-date
Radio broadcasters will no longer be required to compensate copyright owners for making temporary reproductions of sound recordings required for digital operations.

Small cable systems will see a harmonization of their treatment with that of larger players under the bill.

Parliamentary review

Finally, the bill also includes a requirement for a review of the Copyright Act by Parliament every five years to ensure it remains responsive to a changing environment.