Copyright Modernization Act Receives Royal Assent

After several unsuccessful attempts to update the Copyright Act to deal with modern technology concerns, Bill C-11 “An Act to Amend the Copyright Act” (also known as the Copyright Modernization Act) received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012.

In an effort to align Canadian law with International Treaties, the Copyright Modernization Act balances the rights of both copyright holders and users.

Some of the amendments include:

  • Prohibiting the Circumvention of Digital Locks – The Copyright Act will now prohibit circumventing or “cracking” technological protection measures (known as “Digital Locks”).
  • Enablers Subject to Sanctions – Persons who enable infringement (such as those who distribute software to “crack” digital locks or set up torrent tracker sites) will be subject to sanctions.
  • Confirmation of the Notice and Notice Regime – Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) and Internet search-engines can limit their liability by complying with a “notice and notice” scheme set out in the legislation. Under this new regime, copyright owners who discovered an infringement of their rights can send a notice of claimed infringement to the ISP or search engine. The ISP or search engine must then forward this notice to the alleged infringer and retain records relating to the alleged infringer’s identity for a period of time. If the Copyright owner wishes to obtain the identity of the infringer from the ISP or search-engine, it must obtain a court order.
  • Fair Dealing Expanded – The “fair dealing” exception to the use of copyright protected works has been expanded under the Copyright Modernization Act to include education, parody or satire. This expansion seems to be a response to the popularity of YouTube or viral videos.
  • Other Non-Commercial Use Exceptions Expanded to Align with Modern Technology Uses
    “Format shifting” (e.g. converting a CD to MP3s) and “time shifting” (e.g. recording television on a PVR for future viewing) are now permitted under the Copyright Act.Making backup copies or a work in certain circumstances will be permitted.

    Certain user generated content or “remixes” made from existing copyright materials will be permitted when, among other things, the new work does not adversely affect the original work. This is another new rule that is intended to align Canadian law with the reality of modern technology uses. “Remixes”, “Mashups” and other videos are often created by users on YouTube.

The new amendments will come into force on a day to be proclaimed.