Canadian Copyright Reading Guide

Geof Glass: How Canada’s new copyright law will affect you

Canada is about to reform its copyright law. Our government is holding a public consultation, and we need to be involved.

Big media companies are pushing hard to make more activity illegal and to institute extraordinarily harsh penalties. They want your Internet provider to spy on your private communications to make sure you aren’t sharing anything you shouldn’t. They want to terminate your Internet access on the basis of mere accusations of infringement—with no need to prove you did anything wrong. They want to outlaw DVD players capable of playing legally purchased movies from Asia, Europe, or South America. They would allow teachers to critique popular culture without asking for permission—but then force them to destroy the lesson materials, and ensure that all students’ copies are also destroyed.


All the evidence from around the world is that draconian copyright laws do not work. They fail to stop freeloaders. But they are devastatingly effective at restricting artists and innovators—because they operate in the public eye. People see this. When they see copyright blocking the creativity it is supposed to promote, they lose respect for the law. For copyright law to be effective, it must be respected. To be respected, it must be fair.

I am a member of the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition. We want a fair law that benefits all Canadians—artists, innovators, educators, citizens, consumers. At, you can find more details. You can download a guide that makes it easy to write a submission reflecting your interests. Please participate in the consultation. Please help our government write a good law.


About the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition

The single most important thing you can do right now is to submit a comment in the government’s copyright consultation. We have written Copyright Consultation Made Easy, a simply guide to writing an effective submission to the consultation.

Download Copyright Consultation Made Easy, our simple guide to participating in the federal consultation.


Charlie Angus: Will the Conservatives get the message on copyright reform?

Over the last five years, there has been a slow but steady movement between the various “armed camps” on copyright. When I speak with artists groups or consumer advocates, there is a growing recognition of the need to move beyond the rhetoric and get the legislation rolling.

Needless to say, the corporate lobbyists continue to attempt to define the debate as in apocalyptic terms. To them, Canada is a haven of “pirates”, “thieves”, and “bootleggers”. But the Chicken Little approach to copyright is wearing thin. Put simply, people aren’t buying it anymore. All we have to do is look south of the border to see the results of corporate-driven copyright legislation. Earlier this summer, an American single mother was smacked with a US$1.92-million judgment for trading a batch of Gloria Estefan and Green Day MP3s.


Elizabeth May and Griffin Carpenter: Canada needs principled approach to copyright

By Elizabeth May and Griffin Carpenter

Indeed, the time has come to move beyond commonly repeated rhetoric that either inaccurately describes so-called pirates who “steal” media or else falsely advocates for free copyright and performance-based business models. The issue of copyright extends much farther than this rhetoric and deserves focused attention. In fact, even distinctions between creators and users fail to reflect an accurate picture of the nature of innovation. In the digital age of blogs and remixes, the lines between creators and users have become even more blurred.

Thus far, no political party has offered a positive vision on copyright. Such a vision must reflect simple truths. Information-sharing technologies are here to stay. These technologies are beneficial to all sectors of the economy. A thriving information commons is one that yields sustainable artistic innovation.

From these truths a principled approach to copyright emerges:

  • User rights must be defined and extended through a flexible fair-dealing mechanism;
  • Current laws on Crown copyright and public domain must be reformed to build a healthy information commons; and
  • Protection and compensation for creators must be ensured through a statutory-damages provision based on reasonably demonstrated loss.


Bill Henderson: Voluntary music file-sharing fee would benefit songwriters and fans

By Bill Henderson

The Songwriters Association of Canada believes—and Internet technical experts agree—that unauthorized file-sharing cannot be stopped without actually shutting down the Internet. Attempts to sue it out of existence are futile. They alienate our audience, and earn us no money.

Canadian songwriters don’t want to sue file-sharers. In fact, we like file-sharing. It’s the most efficient distribution system of the largest repertoire of music ever assembled, and it’s available to virtually everyone. What’s not to love about that? We don’t want to stop it; we just want to get paid for the use of our work. We think that most music fans agree with that, and that millions of Canadians would welcome a legal way to share any and all music files.

The Songwriters Association has proposed a way to do just that. It would be voluntary for consumers, voluntary for songwriters and rights holders, and it would be administratively light. A small fee from file-sharers would be collected and distributed on a pro rata basis to all the creators and owners of the music shared.

SAC Songwriters Association of Canada

To have a universal recognition that songs play a spiritual and intellectual role in society which is of profound and lasting benefit to humanity.


To protect and develop the creative and business environments for songwriters in Canada and around the world.


Advocacy – Education – Community

An association led by active professional and amateur songwriters, the S.A.C. is committed to the development and recognition of Canadian composers, lyricists and songwriters by pursuing:

* their right to benefit from and receive fair compensation for, the use of their work;
* the advancement of the craft and enterprise of songwriting through educational programs, networking opportunities, dissemination of business knowledge and other services;
* a more favorable environment through the provision of a united national voice when dealing with government, the music industry and the general public; and
* the development of activities which allow members to reach out and enjoy the sense of community shared by songwriters.