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Canadian Copyright Reform In Force: Expanded User Rights Now the Law

This morning, the majority of Bill C-11, the copyright reform bill, took effect, marking the most significant changes to Canadian copyright law in decades. While there are still some further changes to come (the Internet provider notice-and-notice rules await a consultation and their own regulations, various provisions related to the WIPO Internet treaties await formal ratification of those treaties), all the consumer oriented provisions are now active. These include:
  • The addition of education, parody, and satire as fair dealing purposes.
  • The creation of a non-commercial user generated content provision that creates a legal safe harbour for creators of non-commercial UGC (provided they meet four conditions in the law) and for sites that host such content. 
  • The adoption of several new consumer exceptions including time shifting (recording of television shows), format shifting, and the making of backup copies.
  • Changes to the statutory damages rules that distinguish between commercial and non-commercial infringement. The law now includes a cap of $5000 for all non-commercial infringement. The change reduces the likelihood of lawsuits against individuals for non-commercial activities and would apply to educational institutions engaged in non-commercial activity and significantly reduce their potential liability for infringement.
  • The inclusion of an exception for publicly available materials on the Internet for education. This covers the content found on millions of websites that can now be communicated and reproduced by educational institutions without the need for permission or compensation.
  • The adoption of a technology-neutral approach for the reproduction of materials for display purposes. The current law is limited to manual reproduction or on an overhead projector. The provision may be applicable in the online learning context and open the door to digitization activities.
  • The implementation of a distance learning provision, though use of the exception features significant restrictions that require the destruction of lessons at the conclusion of the course.
  • The inclusion of a restrictive digital inter-library loans provision that will allow for digital transmission of materials on an inter-library basis, increasing access to materials that have been acquired by university libraries.
  • A new exception for public performances in schools, which will reduce licensing costs for educational institutions.

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