This Canadian copyright law news article is updated on a regular basis. Bookmark this article and return frequently for updates on court cases, the Copyright Act review, and more.
New United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)
On 30 September 2018, Canada, Mexico and the United States announced the completion of negotiations towards a new trade agreement to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) includes a chapter on Intellectual Property. Among other things, it requires member countries to have a minimum protection of copyright for 70 years after an author’s death. Currently, the copyright duration in Canada is for 50 years after an author’s death.
For information on the USMCA, and the procedure for implementing a new trade agreement, see the Canadian government website.
Statutory Review of Copyright Act Plan (updated October 2018)
After a summer break, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (the Committee) has resumed its review of the Copyright Act.
To date, the Committee has heard and is continuing to hear testimony from a broad spectrum of witnesses representing publishing, visual arts, software and telecommunications in multiple sectors of activity, such as Indigenous communities and various interest groups, as well as legal experts (lawyers and academics) and professional associations.
At the time of writing this article, 137 witnesses have already appeared before the Committee, including those from:
You can view the list of witnesses here.
You can access the 82 submitted briefs here.
You can view and listen to the hearings as well as view the minutes for each hearing by clicking here.
The Committee aims to complete the above hearings by early 2019.
The Committee invites Canadians to submit written briefs not exceeding 2,000 words. You may send briefs to:
Information on how to prepare a submission is in the Guide for Submitting Briefs to House of Commons Committees.
Note that this is a review and not necessarily proposed revisions; it’s uncertain at this time where the review will lead.
To support the review of the Act, the Committee invited the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to conduct a study on remuneration models for artists and creative industries.
Canadian Copyright Act Review Background
On 13 December 2017, the Honorable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, with the Honorable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, launched the statutory review of the Canadian Copyright Act. The review will be conducted by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.
The review of the Copyright Act was mandated by the 2012 Copyright Modernization Act (CMA) “to ensure it remains responsive to a changing environment.” The CMA, among other things, introduced expanded purposes for fair dealing and a notice and notice system for infringing materials on websites. See below for details on the 2012 Copyright Act amendments.
Copyright Board Consultation
In August 2017, the government launched its consultation on reforming the Copyright Board of Canada. In the Creative Canada report mentioned below, the government mentions that they are seeking public input and advice on proposals to reduce the Board’s workload and to clarify its mandate and processes in order to make its workload more efficient. The report claims that reforms will be presented in 2018.
Canada’s Roadmap for Canadian Creators
On 28 September 2017, the Honorable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced Creative Canada – A Vision for Canada’s Creative Industries, a roadmap on the government’s support for Canadian creators and those who help them deliver their content in Canada and internationally. This policy report mentions the launch of the Parliamentary review of the Canadian Copyright Act and states:
A Parliamentary review of the Copyright Act is mandated to start in 2017. The Government will set the review in motion, and Parliamentarians will lead on its scope and process. The time is right to take another good look at copyright, to make sure that the regime is meeting its many policy objectives. It is critical that Canada’s creators are equipped to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital environment. Canadians value creative content, and enjoy, share and interact with it every day. Many creators indicate, however, that they are struggling to receive payments for the use of their work, even when there is an increasing demand for their content, especially online. New technologies and new players have disrupted traditional business models — they offer powerful prospects for new business models and revenue streams.
Copyright has an important role to play, as one tool that can position creators for success in a competitive, global marketplace. Our copyright framework remains a vital part of our creative economy, and will continue to do so in the future. A well-functioning copyright regime should empower creators to leverage the value of their creative work, while users continue to enjoy access to a wide range of diverse cultural content.
Canadian Copyright Reform and Court Cases in 2012
The last time we were consumed with a variety of copyright news was in the summer of 2012; that was an important time for Canadian copyright law.
- On 29 June 2012, the Copyright Modernization Act received Royal Assent, and after 15 years and many failed attempts significant legislative changes were made to the Canadian Copyright Act.
- These amendments make Canada eligible to join the two digital copyright treaties, the Copyright Treaty and the Performance and Phonograms Treaty, bringing Canada’s copyright laws in alignment with many of its trading partners. These Internet treaties are under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
- On 12 July 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada issued five decisions relating to Copyright Board tariffs governing photocopying of textbooks, music downloading and streaming, and other uses of copyright-protected content.
Canadian Copyright Act Amendments in 2012
In relation to provisions benefiting creators and owners of copyright-protected materials, the amendments:
- Provide new rights (making available and distribution) as set out in the digital WIPO treaties
- Extend the duration of protection in sound recordings
- Make photographers the first owner of copyright in their photographs even in the case of commissioned photographs
- Prohibit the removal or tampering of digital rights management (DRM) on content (also called digital locks)
- Prohibit the removal or tampering of copyright information on works (also called rights management information)
In relation to provisions benefiting consumers of copyright-protected materials,
- Permit education-related uses of content including allowing teachers to use content in lessons conducted over the Internet
- Allow libraries, archives and museums to digitize and copy material in an alternative format if there is danger of the original format becoming obsolete
- Permit Canadians with perceptual disabilities to adapt legally acquired material
- Allow an individual to use protected works when creating a new work such as a mashup and to post the new work online on a site like YouTube
- Permit time-shifting of a recording of communication signals or programs for private purposes
- Permit reproduction of works for private purposes (e.g., an individual can copy music they legally own onto a computer, iPod or MP3 player)
- Amend the existing statutory damages so that there’s a distinction between commercial and non-commercial infringement
- Expand fair dealing to include education, parody and satire
Ongoing Fair Dealing Court Cases
In late September 2017, Copibec announced its copyright challenge in Canada against Université Laval. A favorable decision for Copibec was rendered on 27 November 2017, rejecting the University’s request for a suspension of the class action proceedings until the Federal Court of Appeal releases its ruling in the York University appeal (see paragraph below).
On 31 July 2017, York University announced it would appeal the recent federal court fair dealing decision against them initiated by Access Copyright. York filed its Notice of Appeal on 22 September 2017. A summary of the court decision is here.
Recent Court Decisions
According to a recent Alberta Court of Appeal decision, seismic data is protectable under copyright law (Geophysical Service Incorporated v EnCana Corporation, 2017 ABCA 125). A discussion of this case is here.
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