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Updating copyright laws to reflect modern technology

Current copyright laws were designed in the 1980s in an era of vinyl records and cassette tapes. At this time, home computers were an object of curiosity and the Internet was not widely accessible. Much has changed since then.
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Current copyright laws were designed in the 1980s in an era of vinyl records and cassette tapes. At this time, home computers were an object of curiosity and the Internet was not widely accessible.

Much has changed since then. Down-loading and uploading music and video to and from the Internet has become part of daily life for many Canadians, and it is important that our laws be amended to address the challenges that come with these ever-changing technologies and practices.

The proposed changes to the Copyright Act are technology-neutral, making the laws flexible and adaptable to change while ensuring appropriate protections for both users and creators.

This legislation will provide legal protection for businesses that choose to use technological protection measures or digital locks to protect their intellectual property and give copyright owners additional tools to combat piracy.

It will also bring Canada in-line with international standards by implementing the rights and protections outlined in the World Intellectual Property Organization Internet Treaties.

Consumers will remain free to record television shows and watch them using the technology of their choice, upload music from CDs onto MP3 players and create mash-ups and post them on social media sites, among other things. Format shifting, where consumers copy legally acquired music onto devices they own for non-commercial purposes will be permitted under the Act.

Exceptions for technical computer processes will promote innovation in the private sector, while exceptions for education will encourage new, creative methods of teaching in the classroom.

This bill also takes care to ensure digital locks on wireless devices will not prevent Canadians from switching wireless service providers.

Canadians will be protected from disproportionate penalties for minor infringements of copyright through distinctions between commercial and non-commercial infringements. The current laws allow copyright owners to sue for damages ranging from $500 to $20,000 for each work infringed, which has the potential to add up to millions of dollars in lawsuits against individuals, as has occurred in the United States. The changes will protect individual citizens by reducing damages to a one-time payment of $100 to $5,000 for all infringements that took place before the lawsuit.

These modernizing changes respect the interests of consumers and producers, ensuring maximum access to resources and protection in an age of always-changing technologies.