The Canadian government kicked off its review of the Copyright Act this afternoon with a motion to ask the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to conduct a study on the issue. The formal launch had been expected for months since the 2012 reforms included a mandatory review of the law every five years. Lobby groups have been steadily gearing up for the review, with some hoping to undo some of the balancing provisions of the last reform process or demanding new restrictions. Indeed, restrictions on fair dealing, takedown rules, website blocking, and copyright term extension will undoubtedly figure prominently in the lobby playbook. Yet for millions of Canadians, the copyright review offers an opportunity to ensure that the law meets the needs of education, innovation, consumer rights, and creators with more flexibility in the form of fair use and restoring neutrality on Canada’s restrictive digital lock rules.
Post Tagged with: "term extension"
Global groups such as the International Confederation of Music Publishers and the U.S. National Music Publishers Association came to Ottawa this week to lobby the government to extend the term of copyright beyond the Berne Convention standard of life of the author plus an additional 50 years. The lobbying effort kicked off with a Hill Times piece, followed by an evening wine and dine event with politicians, a panel from the supposedly progressive Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, and then yet more lobbying with Canadian music lobby groups. The lobbying campaign comes on the heels of the controversial 2015 copyright extension of sound recordings, which some groups used to sow confusion about the term of protection for sound recordings (from 50 to 70 years) with the term of protection for the composition or written work (frequently longer at life plus 50 years).
For the past two months, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has been publishing an exceptionally important series on the problems with Trans Pacific Partnership. I was pleased to participate in this initiative and yesterday the CCPA posted my contribution. The Trouble with the TPP’s Copyright Rules draws on my earlier Trouble with the TPP series to highlight several of the copyright concerns associated with the agreement, including copyright term extension, the limited applicability of Canada’s notice-and-notice rules, and the expanded criminalization of copyright law.
The Trouble with the TPP series continues with one of the most high profile copyright concerns associated with the TPP: mandatory copyright term extension (prior posts include Day 1: US Blocks Balancing Provisions, Day 2: Locking in Digital Locks). The term of copyright in Canada is presently life of the author plus an additional 50 years, a term consistent with the international standard set by the Berne Convention. This is also the standard in half of the TPP countries with Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Brunei, and Vietnam also providing protection for life plus 50 years.
From a Canadian perspective, the issue of extending the term of copyright was raised on several prior occasions and consistently rejected by governments and trade negotiators. For example, term extension was discussed during the 2009 national copyright consultation, but the Canadian government wisely decided against it. Further, the European Union initially demanded that Canada extend the term of copyright in the Canada-EU Trade Agreement, but that too was effectively rebuffed with the issue of term removed from the final text.
The Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is still not public – the text may not be released for sometime – but with the leak of the intellectual property chapter, the implications for Canadian law is already well known. Despite the prior government’s claims that the deal was largely consistent with current law, the reality is that the TPP will require significant changes to Canadian copyright.
The biggest change is a requirement to extend the term of copyright from life of the author plus 50 years to life plus 70 years. The additional 20 years will keep works out of the public domain for decades. The New Zealand government estimates that this change alone will cost NZ$55 million per year for a country that is one-ninth the size of Canada. Moreover, New Zealand was able to negotiate a delayed implementation of the copyright term provision, with a shorter extension for the first 8 years and only after the full extension. The TPP also would appear to bring a copyright takedown system to Canada without the involvement of Canadian courts and potentially without the application of Canadian copyright law.