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Get The Skinny On Canada's Proposed New Copyright Law

abstract:We've all done it. Downloaded an in theatres only movie from the net before the Oscars; nabbed a file from one of the Napster-type music sites; used a picture off of Flikr for our own web article. But now that there are so many sites offering easy, cheap pay options for copyrighted material, this should be happening less and less - right?! What happens when you take a famous image and photoshop it into something new, or parody someone on your blog? Get the latest on this issue when the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in partnership with the UBC School of Journalism and Tyee Magazine host renowned copyright and internet law expert Dr. Michael Geist. The talk is in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia's "Wise Hall" on October 1, 2009. Dr. Geist is Canada's leading technology law expert and the guru of the Canadian movement to prevent copyright restrictions from infringing on key free speech principles including parody, artistic use, fair use, and device transferability.

A national innovator in using Web 2.0 tools like blogs and Facebook for campaigns for law reform and policy change, Dr. Geist's advocacy, in partnership with Cory Doctorow, resulted in more than 30,000 people joining a Facebook group opposing proposed Canadian copyright law changes and ended in the tabling of the proposed changes by then Industry Minister Jim Prentice.

To learn more about Dr. Geist's work, visit his website at

The time of the lecture and Dr. Geist's topic will be announced by the BCCLA. Check out their website for details! Here is the run down on Bill C-61, the proposed changes to Canada's copyright law.


August 29, 2009
The National Post writes, "New legislation introduced by the federal government on Thursday will open the door for hefty fines on Canadians found guilty of copyright infringement, but advocates of the bill say it will only target heavy traffickers of pirated content and not the average citizen who makes a few illegal copies for private use.

Canadians caught downloading illegal material, such as an MP3 song or video, will be subjected to statutory damages of $500 per incident. However, if a defendant testifies they were unaware they infringed on copyright, the fine could be reduced to $200.

According to provisions in Bill C-61, the proposed amendment to the Copyright Act of Canada, the government itself will not be checking iPods or laptops for illegal material. That job will be up to the content creators themselves, Industry Minister Jim Prentice said in an interview.

'This is a piece of framework legislation that deals with the contractual and copyright rights between the people who create intellectual property and the people who use it,"'Mr. Prentice said.

'Who's going to enforce the $500 liability? That's really up to the creators, up to the people who own the copyright.... There's no intent to have the government intervene as a policing agent to check people's iPods in their houses.'

The Conservative government was set to introduce the new bill last December, but later decided to withhold introducing the legislation following an outpouring of protest by online grassroots organizations across Canada over fears the bill would fall in line with harsh U.S. copyright laws.

Barry Sookman, a partner with McCarthy Tétrault who has represented a variety of copyright stakeholders and who has written a book on copyright technology, said the new legislation is intended to go after companies that profit from illegal file-sharing, 'not the ordinary Canadian.'"

Internet law in Canada by Michael Geist
In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law by Michael Gueist

Extra Links

National Post article. "Is Canada Creating a Police State?"
The actual Bill C-61



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