Most of the new provisions in Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act became law November 7, 2012, including the controversial “digital lock” and the expanded “fair dealings” sections. But some provisions came into force just recently and others will not come into force until January, 2015.
As of August 13, 2014, Canada adheres to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and the Performances and Phonograms Treaty. Both of these treaties extend the traditional rights of authors into the digital world by recognizing that computer programs and certain types of databases (i.e. intellectual “works”) should have copyright protection. Such rights under the WIPO treaties include: 1) a right of distribution of such works to the public by way of sale or other transfer of ownership; 2) the right of rental of three kinds of original digital works: computer programs, cinematographic works and works embodied in phonograms; and 3) a greater right to authorize communication of these works to the public at a time and place chosen by each member of the public individually, which includes “on demand”, interactive communication via the internet.
The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) came into force in 2002. Amongst other things, both treaties require member countries to guard against the removal of rights management information and to prevent the circumvention of authors’ digital rights management. Canada could not sign these treaties until Canadian legislation provided for the protection of rights management info and the prohibition of circumventing such rights through technological measures.
While it seems, at first glance to be a “good” thing that Canadian authors now have greater rights under international copyright treaties, the truth is that Canadian authors lost about $40million in revenue annually, from the removal of the private copying levy. This levy on blank tapes, dvds and other media was designed to compensate Canadian authors for the private copying of protected works. By joining the WCT, authors from other countries would be entitled to a share of this levy and actually cost Canadians money or require the doubling of this levy. The solution under the new legislation is to do away with the levy, thereby depriving Canadian authors of a revenue stream that will not be replaced under the present regime. So who really benefited from this change?