The Canadian government is trying to keep up with the fast-paced digital world and they’re succeeding — well, sort of.
On June 2, Canadian Parliament introduced a reform bill known as the Copyright Modernization Act — otherwise known as Bill C-32.
If the bill passes, consumers will be able to legally record television shows, transfer music from CDs to MP3 players and create mash-ups to post on websites like YouTube. Ultimately, Parliament hopes this forward thinking will provide opportunities for businesses and educational institutions to be more innovative.
Michael Geist, law professor at the University of Ottawa and an expert on internet and e-commerce law, believes the music industry is putting too much blame on downloading.
According to Geist, downloading has had an impact, but this impact is incomparable to the competition from DVD and video game sales for the entertainment dollar.
Peer-to-peer networks have become increasingly popular over the last ten years, but digital locks, known as anti-circumvention, have prevented people from transferring files from one device to another. In order to protect intellectual property, Bill C-32 will not allow digital locks to be broken, but will allow file transferring.
Geist thinks the digital lock provision remains the most problematic change and undermines much of the good in the bill. He does, however, believe the government has handled what has proven to be a tough balancing act quite well.
Amendments to copyright laws in Canada have been an ongoing process for the last decade, but progress has been made to please both consumers and intellectual property owners.
“I think the government has struck a pretty reasonable balance on tough issues like fair dealing, statutory damages, and the role of Internet intermediaries,” Geist says.
Ryan MacLaughlan, a third-year engineering student and avid downloader, believes the music industry is taking copyright infringement too seriously.
“They need a paradigm shift of thinking that results in them worrying a lot less about stopping music downloading and more about what the company is going to do as a new marketing technique,” MacLaughlan argues. “They need to discover new ways to create a profit that the Internet cannot replicate.”