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Your views made it to the government’s report on copyright in Canada! 

After months of extensive study, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU), has released its report on Canada's Copyright Act review, which contains encouraging recommendations for open Internet advocates. Here’s a summary

For over the past year, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) has been conducting a comprehensive study of Canada’s Copyright Act, which is currently reviewed every five years. Yesterday, the committee released its report, which includes 36 recommendations for copyright reform.

The OpenMedia community was closely involved in this consultation process by submitting over 4,400 unique comments directly to the committee via https://letstalkcopyright.ca/ to help shape the future of Canada’s copyright rules, which not only impact creators and artists, but everyday Internet users.

Additionally, OpenMedia submitted a formal written brief and our Executive Director, Laura Tribe, and myself appeared before the committee in person and used this opportunity to emphasize some of our key concerns and bring our community’s voices straight to key decision makers. Our recommendations are referenced multiple times throughout the document, which is very encouraging to see.

One of the most outstanding recommendations from the report is the rejection of Bell's FairPlay website-blocking proposal and insisting that website blocking includes court oversight.

For background — FairPlay Canada was opposed by dozens of experts, over 70,000 individual submissions via OpenMedia’s website https://act.openmedia.org/DontCensor, and 57,000 other submissions across Canada, as part of the CRTC’s consultation last year. This proposal is still being reviewed as part of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts Review, but having been already rejected by the CRTC in October 2018, and now by INDU, the proposal sits on shaky ground. This marks a big win for the OpenMedia community! Public pressure played a major role in making this dangerous website blocking plan highly unpopular and decision makers took note of it.

Some other key recommendations from the report include:

  • Expansion of fair dealing provisions

  • Retention of Internet safe harbour rules

  • Rejection of new limits on educational fair dealing with further review in three years

  • Extending copyright terms from 50 years to 70 years after the death of the author of a work, only if USMCA is ratified, in addition to a registration requirement for the additional 20 years.

  • Expansion of the anti-circumvention rules by allowing circumvention of digital locks for lawful purposes

  • Removing the requirement to review the Copyright Act every five years. This would give the committee more time to assess the impact of prior amendments and gather more data on copyright from Statistics Canada.

(If you are a copyright aficionado, check out Michael Geist’s blog or this Twitter thread breaking down some of the key recommendations in more detail.)

We commend INDU’s report for consulting and listening to hundreds of different perspectives. Their solid effort to consult with multiple stakeholders and incorporate their views into the review (which is no easy task by the way, as many of these views are directly opposed to each other) is evident in this report. This consultation process and report is starkly distinct from other government procedures, where the consultation process is often vague and the results aren’t even reported back to the public, much less so incorporated into major decisions and legislative changes.  

Lastly and most importantly — we want to thank our community of incredible supporters! You are the fuel behind our work. You are what keeps us coming into the office everyday to fight for a better Internet. And you can be sure that you’ve left a mark on this report that will have a huge impact on the future of Canada’s copyright regime.