On 29 September 2011, the Canadian Government introduced Bill C-11, the Digital Modernization Act.  The Bill proposes a number of changes to Canada’s Copyright Act.  According to the Government’s press release, it will make "Canada's copyright laws forward-looking, flexible, and in line with international standards".

Bill C-11 includes the following proposals:

  • a time shifting exception to allow television, radio, and internet programming to be watched at a later time;
  • an exception to allow format shifting for private use;
  • an exception for "non-commercial user generated content", such as mash-ups in certain circumstances;
  • prohibition against circumventing technological protection measures, or "digital locks";
  • deeming that the photographer or painter is the owner of copyright in photographs or portraits that have been commissioned;
  • a fair dealing exception for parody, satire and education;
  • distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial infringement, with non-commercial infringement being subject to reduced damages;
  • extending the term of copyright protection for performer’s performances to 50 years;
  • a "safe harbour" for internet service providers; and
  • a "Notice-Notice" regime under which ISPs are required to forward on infringement notices received from copyright holders to their customers.  

A legislative summary of the Bill is available here.

The Bill follows a number of previous attempts by the Canadian Government to amend its copyright laws, including Bill C-61 (An Act to amend the Copyright Act) in 2008 and Bill C-32 (also the Digital Modernization Act) in June 2010.  The current Bill C-11 reintroduces Bill-32, which was shelved following a vote of no confidence in the Canadian Government in March 2011.

The Government has recommenced the Bill C-32 Legislative Committee consultation process.  Submissions have been made to the consultation process criticising and suggesting amendments to a number of provisions.  Some of the more controversial aspects of the bill include the digital lock provisions and what role ISPs should play in taking steps against peer-to-peer file sharing.