On June 22, 2007, Bill C-59 – amending the Criminal Code to create two new offences for unauthorized recording of movies in movie theatres – came into force. Parliament’s intention was to address practical deficiencies in the enforcement of criminal provisions in s. 42 of the Copyright Act. Without the amendments, there was no practical recourse against those who actually record movies, without evidence of some commercial intent, and no criminal prohibition against making a personal copy.

The two new offences are s. 432(1) (recording a movie or soundtrack without the theatre manager’s consent, carrying a maximum sentence of 2 years) and s. 432(2) (recording a movie or soundtrack for commercial distribution without the theatre manager’s consent, carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years). Provided that it was the property of a party to the offence, equipment used in the offence can be forfeited to the Crown under s. 432(3) if the court so orders.

The bill sparked a great deal of commentary as being somewhat redundant to criminal copyright infringement laws in Canada, and for the overt role played by the Canadian Motion Pictures Distribution Association (CMPDA) in providing government with draft legislation. CMPDA has lobbied for the bill in response to the piracy and mass copying of films which has affected the entire film industry. It is thought that the amendments will make it easier to curb the illegal copying of movies.

The full text of the proposed Bill C-59

The government news release

News commentary on the Bill