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Copyright reform becomes a big issue in Canada as proposed new laws come under scrutiny

By | Published on Monday 29 November 2010

The National Assembly of Canadian province Quebec has called on Canada’s federal government to amend its plans for revamping the country’s copyright laws, so to better protect the interests of rights holders.

As much previously reported, there have been calls for Canada’s copyright laws to be reformed for years, and the current government has finally got round to doing just that, with its Bill C-32 proposals. Needless to say, creators and rights holders say that the proposed reforms don’t go far enough, while some consumer groups say the new laws are far too draconian.

Among the complaints of the former group are that the new laws don’t force the ISPs to take action against file-sharers three-strikes style, that they are too soft on mash-up makers and too generous to educational institutions, and that they do not extend the old private-copy levy paid on cassettes and CDRs to MP3 players.

On the other side, a key concern of consumer rights groups and the library movement is that new legal protection being proposed for digital rights management technology could make content unusable in the future.

It’s the creators that the Quebec assembly has come out in support of, passing a motion last week that called for the federal government to “modify as often as necessary Bill C-32 on copyright, to ensure Quebec creators the full recognition of their rights, adequate protection against illegal copying of their works, the application of the private copying principle, and income in accordance with the value of their intellectual property”.

The motion was discussed in Quebec as a committee in the wider Canadian parliament began to scrutinise the C-32 proposals, a process that is expected to take until at least February. A letter was also sent to that committee signed by over 350 Canadian artists, including Nickelback, specifically calling on the extension of the private copy levy to be extended to the MP3 player.

According to CTV, the letter said: “MP3 players are this generation’s version of blank media. A copy is a copy and the principle of fair compensation for rights holders should apply whether the copy is made onto blank media or MP3 players … we know that you do not want to see a Canada that is devoid of musicians and songwriters, but without fair and balanced treatment, that may be the tragic consequence”.