Digital Copyright Amendment In the Works for Canada?

copyrightGiven the last amendments to the Copyright Act of Canada, Bill C-60, Bill C-61, and Bill C-32, were all removed form the table on account of elections, the next four years of the Harper government will likely bring change that has been in the works for over a decade.

Canada has been seeking to revamp its copyright law for some time. In 2007, it joined discussions for an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). According to the Canadian Foreign Affairs website:

The objective of the ACTA would be to put in place international standards for enforcing intellectual property rights in order to fight more efficiently the growing problems of counterfeiting and piracy. The proposed agreement will cover three areas: improving international cooperation, establishing best practices for enforcement, and providing a more effective legal framework.

Something to keep in mind is that the United States Government plays a large role in these discussions. United States Trade Representative further describes the objectives of the agreement:

The agreement will also include innovative provisions to deepen international cooperation and to promote strong enforcement practices. Together, these provisions will help to protect American jobs in innovative and creative industries against intellectual property theft. 

The United States Trade Representative also just released its “Special 301” report, which names Canada under its “Priority Watch List” amongst other countries including China, Russia, and India. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Egypt, Bolivia, Brunei, Romania, Spain, and Mexico appear as less of a concern as they only made the broader category of “Watch List.”

The report had this to say about Canada:

Canada remains on the Priority Watch List. The United States continues to urge Canada to implement its previous commitments to improve its legal framework for IPR protection and enforcement. Unfortunately, Canadian efforts in 2010 to enact long-awaited copyright legislation were unsuccessful. The United States encourages Canada to make the enactment of copyright legislation that addresses the challenges of piracy over the Internet, including by fully implementing the WIPO Internet Treaties, a priority for its new government. The United States encourages Canada to provide for deterrent-level sentences to be imposed for IPR violations, as well as to strengthen enforcement efforts, including at the border. Canada should provide its Customs officials with ex officio authority to effectively stop the transit of counterfeit and pirated products through its territory. U.S. stakeholders have also expressed strong concerns about Canada’s administrative process for reviewing the regulatory approval of pharmaceutical products, as well as limitations in Canada’s trademark regime. The United States appreciates the high level of cooperation between the Canadian and U.S. Governments, and looks forward to continuing engagement on these important issues.

The report also outlines goals for encouraging trading partners to enhance enforcement efforts by strengthening enforcement against major channels of piracy over the Internet, creating specialized enforcement units or undertaking special initiatives against piracy over the Internet, and undertaking training to strengthen capacity to fight piracy over the Internet.