Canada tries again to update copyright legislation

Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:27pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer and Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will reintroduce copyright legislation on Thursday as it grapples with the realities of the Internet age and tries to balance the demands of consumers with concerns from the movie industry.

The legislation, first introduced ahead of the federal election in May, is designed to cope with things like movie piracy, which the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association put at more than C$1.8 billion ($1.7 billion) in 2009-10, or the equivalent of 12,600 full-time jobs.

"In the absence of clear and modern copyright rules, digital piracy caused enormous damage to the creative industries, Canadian jobs and the entire economy," the association said in parliamentary testimony earlier this year.

The legislation would let Canadians copy legally acquired music and movies to their iPods and computers but it would bar most attempts to get around digital locks, which limit access to books, movies, music, video games and electronic devices.

In a concession to consumers, the bill would allow them to circumvent a digital lock on their smart phones to let them switch wireless service providers, if their contract allows that.

Introducing the legislation the first time, the Conservative government found it hard to please both the consumers and educators who want lax rules on copying film, books and music, and the movie industry and the U.S. government which both want tighter rules.

In 2009, with the apparent acquiescence of Ottawa, Washington placed Canada on its "priority watch list" of countries with the worst records of preventing copyright theft.

A Wikileaks cable revealed that the office of then industry minister Tony Clement told a U.S. diplomat that being put on the priority watch list might help the government get copyright legislation through.   Continued...