Canadian DMCA Introduced (Finally); Pretends US Lobbyists Had Nothing To Do With It
from the 51st-state dept
Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Originally slated for the end of last year, an uproar from tens of thousands of concerned citizens in Canada, made Industry Minister Jim Prentice delay the bill. He insisted that he would listen to constituents and open the process up to make sure the bill achieved the right balance — except that no open discussions were ever held. Instead, he apparently looked to add a few “consumer friendly” provisions to the bill, legalizing things that should be perfectly legal anyway (time-shifting, ability to move songs you purchased to an iPod) and then kept all the bad things. After trying to sneak it through last week, the bill was delayed briefly. However, with Prentice promising the entertainment industry that the bill would be released before summer, he was running out of time.
And, indeed, this morning the bill was finally introduced. It’s pretty much as bad as you would expect. It includes a DMCA-like anti-circumvention clause and fines of $500 to $20,000 for any unauthorized content you may have. Existing law already had similar fines, but the new law basically expands what you may get fined for. The law also does provide safe harbors for service providers (a good thing) including a “notice-and-notice” provision, rather than an American-style “notice-and-takedown” system (i.e., when informed of infringement, the service providers just need to inform the user, rather than immediately take down the content). Those make sense, but are drowned out by other problems with the bill. Prentice is pushing the angle that this bill is a “made-in-Canada” law, which is pretty laughable, since everyone knows that it was pretty much written by US industry lobbyists.
Even the supposedly “pro-consumer” parts of the bill (which weren’t in the original version) have a lot of questionable fine print. And, of course, it looks like Prentice is using some procedural tricks to try to get the bill fast-tracked with as few opportunities to change it as possible. Hopefully, the expectations by some that this bill will be left to die come true. While there may be elements of Canada’s copyright law that need updating, creating a mini-DMCA is hardly a step in the right direction.