Ottawa tables copyright bill


Globe and mail Update

June 12, 2008 at 1:28 PM EDT

The federal government tabled new legislation Thursday morning designed to make it easier to track and prosecute anyone caught downloading copyrighted files, such as music and movies, from the Internet.

Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Heritage Minister Josée Verner lifted the veil on the long-anticipated legislation at a news conference on Parliament Hill.

Under the proposed legislation, anyone caught downloading copyrighted material online could face a fine of $500. Individuals may still be liable for other types of damages or remedies. The current Copyright Act allows for a maximum fine of $20,000.

“This is a unique made-in-Canada approach to copyright reform,” Mr. Prentice told reporters during a news conference.

The new bill makes it easier for rights holders to prosecute commercial copyright violators while protecting the rights of consumers, Mr. Prentice said.

Under the current legislation, a teenager caught downloading five copyrighted movies in her parents' basement could be liable for up to $100,000 in fines, Mr. Prentice said. Under the proposed law, the maximum fine they could incur is $500.

However, if that teenager were to burn those movies to DVDs and begin selling them on the street, she would be subject to fines or prosecution if caught.

Mr. Prentice announced Wednesday evening that he would table the amendments to the Copyright Act in the House of Commons Thursday. Reports surfaced last week that the government was preparing to finally announce reform measures for the Copyright Act, however Mr. Prentice said he would not table the bill until he was satisfied it contained “the appropriate balance.”

“I am confident we have found this balance,” he said Thursday.

The new bill clarifies for Canadians “what is legal and what is not legal” with regards to using copyrighted material, Ms. Verner said.

“We are putting an end to the status quo and the grey areas of the last 22 years,” she said.

The Conservatives have faced mounting pressure from foreign governments and a number of lobby groups to update the aging Copyright Act of Canada with new legislation designed to make it easier to track and prosecute anyone who infringes on copyrights by sharing media on the Internet.

The act is designed in such a way to punish those who distribute or upload materials to the Internet rather than consumers who download.

“It's a win-win approach because we're ensuring that Canadians can use digital technologies at home with their families, at work, or for educational and research purposes,” Mr. Prentice said.

Under the new legislation, Canadians would be allowed to record television programs using a personal video recorder to watch at a later date, a process the Industry Minster's news release refers to as “time shifting.”

Also, as long as consumers don't attempt to circumvent the digital rights management (DRM) technology, they can transfer media files from their personal computer to their portable device without worrying. The new bill would make it illegal to provide market or import tools “designed to enable circumvention.”

The new legislation calls on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to discourage copyright infringement, however these companies will not be held liable for the actions of their users.

In some countries – such as the U.S. and Australia – ISPs have been directed to track subscribers who swap files illegally and to block access to certain sites and programs which facilitate file sharing.

Under the new Canadian legislation, ISPs would be obligated to inform subscribers when a complaint has been launched against the consumer by the owner of a copyright, however they would also be obliged to keep track of that user's contact information for six months in case that data became necessary for legal proceedings.

This isn't the first time the Conservative government has tried to update Canada's copyright legislation, which was last overhauled in 1997. In December, 2006, proposed legislation was derailed and eventually scrapped when a grassroots Internet campaign protested the new rules.

The federal government announced its intention to update the Copyright Act in its 2007 Speech from the Throne, and promised a number of organizations in the recording and media industries that the legislation would be tabled before the House of Commons breaks for the summer.

However, with Parliament set to break soon, sources say the legislation is expected to be left to die by the minority Conservative government, which is likely to face harsh criticism from opposition parties, making the bill difficult to pass.

Critics contend the Conservatives were pressured into drafting legislation that too closely resembled the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has been criticized for being stacked unfairly against consumers in favour of rights holders such as the movie and recording industries.

The Conservatives are also negotiating with a number of other governments, including the U.S. and the European Union, to establish a new international copyright agreement, dubbed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

According to a four page document first revealed on, the new agreement would allow border guards and other law enforcement officials to inspect devices, such as laptops and iPods, for music, videos and other media that may violate copyright laws. Any devices found to contain copyright-infringing material could be confiscated, or even destroyed, leading to fines for their owners.

With a report from The Canadian Press



Our commentary

Ottawa Mens, from Ottawa, Canada) wrote: NASTY INSIDIOUS DRACONIAN LEGISLATION thats pandering to American interests that possible and probably sinister applications.

If you are public critic of the government, expect Canadian Border Guards to be waiting for you at the boarder with instructions to go on a "fishing expedition" and look at your lap top, of course, a border guard does not have all the expertize so he may send it off to "an expert" and before it is returned, a number of unknown people employed by the government have had an opportunity to "go over it".

The intrusion can be extreme. For many their laptop is all their work and personal life, it is extremely private information and citizens have a right to privacy.

Don't expect "probable cause", while many boarder guards act appropriately, a small percentage can be over zealous and flagrantly abuse their powers and go on crazy searches simply because they disagree with the subject's political opinion that may conflict with the government's.

What's next, regulations that require us all to hook our laptops up at the boarder for an automatic scan of our laptops to check for any number of things, you know, phone numbers of political critics, key words that must be reported to a homeland security database south of the boarder?

This is what is called "One Two" legislation, first , it enables legislation that gives the rich to litigate against the poor and win based on the probability that the vast majority cannot afford to litigate against such legal powerhouses with unlimited funds to litigate and win, not because of the merit but on who has the unlimited funds to litigate.

Thats not fairness, its creation of a serfdom. Its not rule of law, its the rule of he who has the money can send to jail anyone they don't like.

It begs the question, what truly caring politician would support such legislation. It's another nail in the political coffin of conservative Republican puppet government. Ottawa Mens, from Ottawa, Canada wrote: The Government has more important issues to deal with than this very flaky bit of legislation that does nothing but pander to American interests.

Take the issue of a legal presumption of equal parenting after divorce? Just when is Mr. Harper going to pass that?

Take the issue of the Judiciary's war against men in family court? Currently its almost unheard of for a man to have success in family court, if he does, he will probably be hit with cost penalties.

Judges simply hate any father who wants his children to have a relationship with him.

Judges turn blind eyes to blatant and fragrant fabrication of evidence by feminist lawyers which effectively gives those lawyers a license to kill and destroy any man who is brave enough to say "please, i just my kids to have a relationship with me".

We have a judges whose courtrooms have such bias and pathological hatred of men that you can feel the hatred just oozing out the courtroom walls.

Our family court rooms are not places of equity, they are places of enforcement of a Canadian national policy of MALE GENDER APARTHEID.

When is it going to end?

Hello, Mr. Harper?..... WHEN are you going to End Male Gender Apartheid in Canada?

Mr. Harper??.... When are you going to end judges mandatory feminist brain washing sessions ?

Mr. Harper? When are you going to HIRE SUFFICIENT JUDGES?

Just how do you expect them to administer justice when YOU KNOW they cannot possible handle the number of present cases?

Mr. Harper, you are asking Judges to "get rid of litigants" especially those who are self represented.

Mr. Harper, your failure to act has created not a Rule of Law but a license for feminists to throw in jail any man they don't like.

When is it going to change?