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Canada government introduces bill to modernize copyright laws

The Canadian government on Wednesday introduced [press release] the Copyright Modernization Act [text; materials] aimed at updating existing copyright law [text, PDF] and bringing it in line with international standards. If passed, the bill would protect copyright holders by prohibiting hacking of digital locks, allowing the use of user-generated content, and giving authorship rights to photographers. Consumers would officially be allowed to practice "format-shifting" by copying legally-obtained content onto other devices and "time-shifting" by recording broadcasts for later viewing. Additionally, the bill would permit the use of copyrighted material for parody and satire. The bill would also decrease the amount that a consumer would have to pay for a violation of the act from $500-$20,000 per violation to $100-$5,000 in total damages. Government officials indicated that the legislation reflects a positive step toward modernization:

This legislation will bring Canada in line with international standards and promote home-grown innovation and creativity. It is a fair, balanced and common-sense approach, respecting both the rights of creators and the interests of consumers in a modern marketplace. The Government of Canada is working to secure Canada's place in the digital economy and to promote a more prosperous and competitive Canada.
Critics say the bill is too favorable to copyright holders [Reuters report] and neglects the rights of consumers. The Canadian government pledged [JURIST report] in March to strengthen its copyright laws after the government failed to pass [AFP Report] similar legislation [JURIST report] in 2007 and 2008.

This latest announcement comes less than a month after the US Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus [official website] released the 2010 International Piracy Watch list [text, PDF; JURIST report], which named Canada one of the worst countries for protecting copyrighted information. Also last month, the Office of the US Trade Representative [official website] placed Canada on its Priority Watch List [JURIST report] of countries that are not adequately protecting intellectual property rights. Canada first appeared on the USTR Priority Watch list in 2009 [JURIST report].

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