New legislation chases pirates

MONTREAL — Canada’s Conservative government on Thursday introduced copyright legislation in the House of Commons in Ottawa  that will better protect creators’ rights online but will also lower fines for private copyright infringements.

For example, someone who downloaded four movies at home could be fined C$100,000 ($976,000) under the current copyright legislation. With the proposed new bill, that person would face a maximum fine of just $488. But there would be much larger fines and potentially even prosecution if the illegally downloaded movies were put up for sale.

Initial industry reaction was positive, though most said they needed to examine the legislation in more detail.

“They’re trying to balance the rights of creators and the ability of people to use content,” said Guy Mayson, CEO of the Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. “So it’s a bit of a balancing act. For us the big step forward is to recognize the rights of creators and the importance of protecting them. Ideally, the legislation will bring a legal framework to exploit rights on the Internet.”

The legislation will also allow people to record TV shows to watch at a later time.

The government had been under pressure for some time to overhaul the outdated copyright laws and bring them into sync with the digital era. However, it is unclear if the legislation will become law any time soon since Parliament is set to close for the summer shortly.

“This is a unique, made-in-Canada approach to copyright reform,” said Industry Minister Jim Prentice. “This is truly a win-win for Canadian consumers who use digital technology and for everyone who creates material that becomes digitally accessible.”

The law will also allow consumers to copy legally acquired music on to other devices like iPods and cell phones.

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