New copyright bill introduced by Conservatives

The Conservative Government introduced Bill C-32 to amend the Copyright Act yesterday, which will keep many consumer behaviours legal,  but will make it illegal to crack digital rights management in any way.

The copyright amendment makes it clear that format shifting (ripping CDs to an iPod, for example,) is perfectly legal, as is making back-up copies of media for personal use.

But, and there’s a big but, if there’s any kind of DRM in the way, then circumventing that protection is illegal.

 The only exception to circumventing “digital locks,” is unlocking a cellphone in order to use it with another wireless provider.

On the anti-piracy side, the bill requires Internet service providers to notify users who are suspecting of downloading media illegally and to keep personal information on those users should it be requested by the copyright holder.

However, the bill also reduces to maximum fine for illegal downloading for personal use to $5000 from $20,000.

“Fair Dealing” has also been expanded to include using copyrighted material for the purpose of parody and education. There’s also a user generated content or “YouTube exception,” keeping the creation of mash-up videos legal as long as they are for non-commercial purposes.

Taking his blog, University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist called the bill “Flawed but fixable,” calling for more exceptions for circumventing DRM.

Geist provides a detailed analysis on his blog, as well as re-launching Speak Out on Copyright.

This is the second time the Conservatives have attempted to pass Copyright Act amendments. The party had previously tabled a bill in 2008 that died when an election was called a few months later.