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Battle Brewing over Copyright in Canada

May 29, 2010

The Canadian Federation of Students just released an animated video on YouTube calling on people to support “fair copyright.”

I’ll preface this with the disclaimer that I’m neither Canadian nor an attorney, but given the close relationship between American and Canadian media, this is an issue worth monitoring. Industry Minister Tony Clement recently admitted that much of his iPod collection was compiled by converting his own CDs to a digital format. This is currently illegal in Canada. Clement brought up the issue to highlight problems with this law, as practices like this are generally considered acceptable by the wider public and should be legal assuming the consumer already paid for the content once. Naturally, the RIAA disagrees.

Another big issue, which Michael Geist highlights in his column, Seven Copyright Questions for Heritage Minister Moore, is the primacy of digital locks in the new legislation.  Geist argues that the digital locks would trump all other rights.  The implication is that documentary filmmakers and media would not be able to use copyrighted content that contained digital locks without expressed permission. This practice is currently legal and protected by fair dealing provision in Canada (or Fair Use in the US).  It’s a critical element to protecting the free press, and if Geist is right about this, it’s a dangerous precedent.

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