Law will make it easier to prosecute illegal file-sharing

Canada’s Conservative government is introducing tough new copyright legislation that would make it illegal for anyone to break the digital encryption on a DVD and would make it easier for studios to take action against Canadians who engage in illegal file-sharing.

The current copyright legislation has not been updated since 1997 and critics have slammed Canada for not keeping up with other G8 countries regarding copyright protection for rights holders in the digital age.

The bill was introduced Wednesday in Montreal by Industry Minister Tony Clement but it will have to pass through the House of Commons in Ottawa before becoming law.

The bill would make it illegal to break a digital lock or encryption on software or DVDs, even if done for personal use.

But at the same time, the law will allow Canadians to record content from the Internet or TV as long as it is only for personal use.

In addition, the fine for Canadians who download music or movies will be cut to a maximum of $5,000.

The lack of protection for artists is one reason actors union ACTRA is not satisfied with the law.

“How is it ‘balanced’ to allow people to make copies of our work without giving us anything in return?” said ACTRA national president Ferne Downey. “Half the bill is missing, the half that respects and pays creators.”

Orgs repping Canadian record labels and the Canuck branches of the music multinationals welcomed the stronger copyright legislation.

“We thank the government for taking this step to protect the right of artists and other rights holders to earn a living from their work,” said Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Assn., which reps the major labels in Canada. “We are witnessing the emergence of thriving, legitimate online markets in other countries that have implemented robust copyright rules. With the right rules here, there is no reason Canada could not follow the same path.”

The record companies have been saying for years that Canada has become a haven for music piracy because of the lack of new copyright legislation in the country.

The law will help movie companies protect their work because it would force Internet service providers to notify users if a copyright has been infringed. The ISPs will have to give information on the user to the authorities if asked by a court to do so.

The Conservative government previously tried to bring in copyright legislation in 2008, but that bill never became law because the government called an election before it could pass through the Commons.

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