61 Reforms to C-61, Day 57: Statutory Damages Reform – Uncertainty

Reforms to the statutory damages provisions formed a big part of the government's communication strategy for Bill C-61.  Although scooped by the National Post, Industry Minister Jim Prentice emphasized the introduction of amendments to the statutory damages provisions that purportedly create limits for damages that arise from "private purposes" infringement.  The provision has proven unpopular for both sides of the copyright debate with rights holders concerned that it will not create a disincentive to infringing activities, while user groups fear that it won't apply to liability for everyday activities. The provision states:

If a copyright owner has made an election under subsection (1), a defendant who is an individual is liable for statutory damages of $500 in respect of all the defendant’s infringements that were done for the defendant’s
private purposes and that are involved in the proceedings.

Moreover, a follow-up provision states:

If a copyright owner has made an election under subsection (1) in respect of a defendant referred to in subsection (1.1), no other copyright owner may elect statutory damages in respect of that defendant for the defendant’s infringements that were done for the defendant’s private purposes before the institution of the proceedings in which the election was made.

Tomorrow I will discuss why these provisions are not good enough.  For now, it is worth noting how much uncertainty they generate.  What is the meaning of "private purpose" (it surprisingly is not defined in the bill)?   Does the bill really mean that the first copyright owner to sue has the shot at $500, while all other copyright owners are blocked from filing suit?  Alternatively, do "all the defendant's infringements" refer only to the infringements for a particular work (ie. there are frequently multiple copyright holders for a single song) and file sharers can be still be sued for each individual download?  The uncertainty associated with the statutory damages reforms leave the sense of a hastily included provision at Prentice's request.  All sides in the copyright debate require greater clarification to judge the changes.


  1. change
    just try this shit in canada , next party to do it gets a permenant vacation , and your going to see the conservative party get a real shock in this election, that despite all there spin , they have awakened the youth and they never vote neo con.

    NDP or GREEN
    The choice for change is yours

  2. Where would the money go anyway?
    Not one cent of the money gained from RIAA lawsuits in the US have gone to any artist or composer. It all went into RIAA coffers to “offset legal expenses”.

    What kind of black hole would the monies gained from the lawsuits here end up in?

    BTW – did anyone else catch the CBC copyright reform story on the Sept. 8th program of “Ideas”? It’s a must listen for followers of this blog.

  3. Real damage should be fix for all.
    The main problem with the damage part for copyright steal are not really proven no where in the world.

    Actually, if you look at the artist revenue by album, they don’t get more than .50$ of it. So, for a virtual goods, that is nothing but electricity interpret by the users computers, I guess the damage should not be greater than the value given to the copyright holder.

    In that case, the creator receiving .50$ should get from a court damage scheme, .50$ for the none-respect copyright.

    And even that is not really accurate. Because some study shows that P2P don’t cause damage at all, but boost popularity, so boost sales and concert ticket sales. So, in that regard, no damage could be ask because none were done.

    I get a PDF study over that concept, I can’t find the URL anymore. So, if you want to look at it, feel free to look necrovg over gmail.


  4. woot
    ‘You won’t hear Stephen Harper admit he may win a majority government because he is terrified that people might actually stop and think about the consequences.’— Premier Danny Williams