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Copyright policy

Copyright is a form of intellectual property that gives the creator of an original work, such as a book, song, movie or computer program, exclusive rights in relation to that work. These rights include the rights to publish, distribute and adapt the work. The rights are for a certain time period, after which the work is said to enter the public domain.

The Canadian Copyright Act is an important marketplace framework law that aims to provide fair and predictable rules, in line with new technological developments and international standards. These rules should encourage the creation and distribution of new knowledge by creators, while facilitating access to this new knowledge by all Canadians.

The Copyright Act applies to all original literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, including computer programs, and gives the creator the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form. Copyright law also protects performances and sound recordings.

Copyright Board Reform

The Government of Canada has proposed reforms to the Copyright Board that would clarify and streamline the framework in which the Board operates, namely, by codifying the Board's mandate, establishing decision-making criteria, modifying timelines, empowering case management, and modernizing the existing language and structure of the Copyright Act. The reforms would also allow more collective societies to enter into agreements directly with users, to ensure that the Board is only adjudicating matters when needed.

Reforms to the Copyright Board of Canada

Notice and Notice

The goal of "Notice and Notice" is to discourage online copyright infringement. It is a mandatory regime set out in the Copyright Act that requires Internet intermediaries — such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – to forward on notices from copyright owners to Internet subscribers, alerting them that their Internet accounts have been linked to alleged infringing activities, such as the illegal downloading of movies.

Soon after the regime entered into force in January 2015, controversy arose over the practice of including settlement demands within notices. The practice could lead to abuses, given that consumers may be pressured into disclosing their personal information and making settlement payments even in situations where they have not engaged in any acts that violate copyright laws.

The Government of Canada has proposed reforms to clarify that a notice of claimed infringement that contains an offer to settle, or a request or demand for payment or for personal information, or a reference to any such offer, request or demand, in relation to the claimed infringement, does not comply with the regime.

Frequently asked questions: Legislative Amendments to Copyright Act (Notice and Notice)

Copyright term consultation

The Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement entered into force on July 1, 2020. Under the Agreement, Canada will extend its general term of copyright protection from 50 years after the life of the author to 70 years after the life of the author. In February 2021, a public consultation was launched to solicit views from stakeholders and the Canadian public. The consultation seeks input on whether the Government of Canada should adopt accompanying measures to address concerns over the potential implications of a longer general copyright term, and if so, what form such measures should take.

Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Online Intermediaries

The dissemination and use of copyright-protected content on the Internet has expanded in recent years. Online intermediaries – the entities that facilitate access to such content – have also proliferated and diversified. In some cases, they now play more active roles in user activities involving copyright-protected content. These developments have increasingly brought into focus the liability and obligations of online intermediaries, which is an evolving area of law around the world. In Canada, questions have emerged regarding the extent to which the copyright framework for online intermediaries still achieves its underlying objectives, including protecting and encouraging the use of copyright-protected content online, safeguarding individual rights and freedoms in an open Internet and facilitating a flourishing digital market.

On April 14, 2021, the Government of Canada launched a public consultation to gather views from stakeholders and the Canadian public. The goal of this consultation is to help the Government ensure that Canada's copyright framework for online intermediaries reflects this evolving digital world. The Government welcomes all comments providing additional perspectives or evidence concerning these issues and potential options. Comments may be e-mailed to copyright-consultation-droitdauteur@canada.ca until May 31, 2021. In order for the Government to make accessible versions of submissions available following the consultation period, participants are requested to submit their comments in formats easily convertible to HTML (e.g., e-mails or Word documents) with descriptive text for any tables or graphics. Guidance for preparing descriptive text may be found in the Government's Content Style Guide.

For more information on how to participate visit the Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Online Intermediaries webpage.

Further information

For further information, see:

Copyright policy is the responsibility of the Copyright and Trade-mark Policy Directorate, which is part of the Marketplace Framework Policy Branch.

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