Industry minister tabling copyright amendments bill Posted By BY THE CANADIAN PRESS The federal government is expected to introduce legislation today that will seek to make it easier to prosecute individuals who download copyrighted material from the Internet. Industry Minister Jim Prentice said in an a release from his office late Wednesday that he will table amendments to the Copyright Law in the House of Commons this morning. The bill, which will amend the existing Copyright Act, was first put on the House of Commons order paper in December, but then was held in limbo for the next six months as speculation built about what it contained. The long-awaited changes are a hot political potato for Prentice, who must find a middle ground between business interests who want strict protection for intellectual property, including recordings and films, and Internet users accustomed to downloading material free. There is speculation Prentice will try to come down the middle as much as possible, imposing a $500 fine on individuals caught downloading copyrighted files. The current copyright law, which was intended to catch commercial cheaters, carries a maximum fine of $20,000 for infringements. If such a fine were to be included in the amendments, it would likely leave both sides unhappy -- industry groups that the fine is small, consumers that the fine applies to each file download. University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, who teaches technology law, said he is concerned the amendments will mirror too closely the restrictive legislation in the United States. "I expect Minister Prentice to characterize the law as a Made in Canada solution, yet the reality will be that the key provisions are born in the USA," he said. "In doing so, the new law will have serious negative effects for Canadian consumers who could be locked out of their own purchased content, as well as for privacy, education and research." Geist said he expects some provisions aimed at pleasing consumer interests such as the legalizing of recording time-shifted television shows, but that most of the new rules will be contrary to consumer interests. UPDATE From industry Canada website http://www.ic.gc.ca/cmb/welcomeic.nsf/0/85...54?OpenDocument Government of Canada Proposes Update to Copyright Law: Balanced Approach to Truly Benefit CanadiansOTTAWA, June 12, 2008 --Today the Government of Canada introduced long-overdue and much-needed amendments to the Copyright Act that will bring it in line with advances in technology and current international standards. "Our government has committed to ensuring Canada's copyright law is up to date, and today we are delivering by introducing this "made-in-Canada" bill that balances the interests of Canadians who use digital technology and those who create content," said the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry. "It's a win-win approach because we're ensuring that Canadians can use digital technologies at home with their families, at work, or for educational and research purposes. We are also providing new rights and protections for Canadians who create the content and who want to better secure their work online." "These proposed amendments represent the first major reform of the Copyright Act in more than a decade. In that time, the Internet and other new technologies have radically changed the way we produce and access copyright material," said the Honourable Josée Verner, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages and Minister for La Francophonie. "Canadians are known around the world for their creativity and ingenuity, and many of their ideas are found in the books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we watch, and the new digital technology we use in our day-to-day lives. Our balanced copyright reform builds on these successes." Today's announcement follows the government's commitment in the 2007 Speech from the Throne to proceed with copyright reform. The proposed amendments include: new exceptions that will allow Canadian consumers to legally record television shows for later viewing and copy legally acquired music onto other devices, such as iPods or cellphones; new exceptions for some educational and research purposes; new rights and protections for those who create content; and provisions to address the liability of Internet service providers and the role they should play in curbing copyright-infringing activities on their networks. Four principles motivated the government in the development of the proposed changes to the Copyright Act: 1. The rights of those who hold copyright must be balanced with the needs of users to access copyright works. 2. The Copyright Act must provide clear, predictable and fair rules to allow Canadians to derive benefits from their creations. 3. The Copyright Act should foster innovation in an effort to attract investment and high-paying jobs to Canada. 4. Canada must ensure that its copyright framework for the Internet is in line with international standards. These amendments to the Copyright Act are part of the government's broader intellectual property strategy, which includes the recent amendments to the Criminal Code to combat movie piracy and the announcement that Canada will work with other international trading partners towards a possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).