61 Reforms to C-61, Day 8: Time Shifting Provision’s Time and Copy Limits

The time shifting provision in C-61 also contains time and copy limits – Canadians may keep "the recording no longer than necessary in order to listen to or watch the program at a more convenient time" and may not make more than one recording of the program.  While it is understandable that the government is seeking to set some parameters around time shifting, the U.S. "fair use" provision has worked well for more than two decades without this degree of specificity.  In the case of time limits, it is not entirely clear what this means – a day, a week, a month, or a year?  A reasonableness standard will presumably emerge, but in the meantime this particular provision is a bit of a guessing game.  The copy limits makes intuitive sense, yet what about the person who sets their PVR to record each episode of a program and proceeds to copy a repeat episode that technically violates the provision?

While these are admittedly small details, they hightlight two concerns. The first is that the government has taken a good general principle – time shifting is widely accepted – and rendered the legal provision overly complex and uncertain.  The second, potentially more important concern, stems from how this provision might be enforced.  At first blush, the provision seems entirely unenforceable as there is little chance of police spending time inspecting the television program recording habits of individual Canadians.  Yet given the inability to enforce the provision in that manner, how long might it be before broadcasters demand that the PVR providers (both cable companies and equipment manufacturers) build in these legal limits into their products so that the PVR automatically deletes a recording after a certain period of time or stops recording a duplicate show?  Once the legal principle is established, past precedent demonstrates that demands on intermediaries to enforce the law quickly follow.


  1. Maynard G. Krebs says:

    Call it what it is
    ….a criminal conspiracy between content publishers [ I use that term rather than “creators” in order to distinguish between those who create (artists/directors/actors) and those who are intermediaries (studios) ], and hardware makers.

    It will turn out much like what occurs when you are frequent traveler between geographic ‘regions’ (as defined by Hollywood and the DVD drive makers) with your laptop and buy/play DVD’s from different regions on the same DVD drive. After 5 (or 10) changes of the region code, your DVD drive ceases to function properly because of a “kill” bit activated on the drive itself – which prevents the drive from changing regions again and your drive becomes ‘locked’ to last region used.

    Your recourse? None other than to take your laptop to the service facility and pay for a new DVD drive.

    You won’t find any information about that printed in bold letters on the outside of the package as a notice to consumers when you buy the pre-recorded DVD or the laptop. Seems like fraud to me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s very easy to be negative. What should the time-shift provision say?

  3. kriminal says:

    Since we pay for each TV show 3 times: 1. For the cable service, 2. For the commercials (the price of any good we buy includes promotional costs), 3. With our attention (we have to start to give a price to our attention too since it is that that TV networks are demanding for) I believe that we should be able to record any show we want and keep it as long as we want since we have paid for it profusely. Ops…I almost forgot that we do not own anymore what we paying for.
    Oh well if they want to redefines my habits it is fine for me. I have lots of better things to do than wasting my time in front of a box.

  4. Once upon a time: freedom
    What should the time-shift provision say?
    TV programs can be recorded to be watched later (like for the last 20 years). Anything else is violation of privacy (it is not anyone business to tell what I should or should not do within the privacy of my house). What will be the target next time, masturbation?

  5. Artificial Limits
    For every manufactured limit placed on technology(ie recording, copying etc.) there will be a means to over ride it. This is done on consoles, on cable boxes, on tv, on software etc. Cracks, hacks, and workarounds. Rather than providing consumers with what they want, manufacturers are providing things that the “content producers” want(that is to say copyright owners…which are often not the people who actually ‘create content’). So, in order for consumers to get what they want, they have to buy “illegal” mods and whatnot. Which is ridiculous. It’s like buying a car and having an EULA saying you can only use a certain brand of motor oil otherwise you void your warranty, risk lawsuits, and repossession. It is all a waste of time, and the unholy ‘need’ to continue making legal caveats concerning intellectual products is killing technology and placing resources on this b.s. instead of doing anything useful. Think of all the wonderful technology that’s been developed just to hack something that doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. What would happen if they were working on something more useful?

  6. Stewart Clamen says:

    ExpressVu PVR
    Bell has a new (to me) tv ad promoting their new HD PVR that supports external drives. It specifically talks about there is no longer any need to delete movies you like because you have \”unlimited\” disk space to preserve them. Would this PVR\’s advertised extra feature become worthwhile (within legal bounds) if C-61 became law as is?