Copyright Law in Canada—Similar, But Not the Same

Vol. 4 No. 5


Mark Edward Davis is a partner with Heenan Blaikie LLP in Toronto, Canada, where he focuses his practice on intellectual property matters. He has significant experience in patent litigation, including proceedings under the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations, as well as in trademark, confidential information, and copyright disputes, particularly those relating to the Internet. He can be reached at Mr. Davis would like to thank David Yi, who helped put together the presentation to the Copyright and New Technologies Committee of the ABA.

On September 29, 2011, Canada announced the introduction of The Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11). The stated purposes of the proposed legislation are to protect and create jobs, promote homegrown creativity and innovation, and attract new investment to Canada by making Canada’s copyright laws forward-looking, flexible, and in line with international standards. Through legislative reform, the government aspires to establishing Canada as a leader in the digital economy of the future.

This is the fourth time1 in the last five years that the Canadian government has attempted to modernize Canada’s copyright legislation. These attempts have been unsuccessful largely due to exigencies arising from the fact that Canada has had successive minority governments at the federal level (there have been four federal elections since 2006, the last two of which have resulted in minority governments). Bill C-32 was Canada’s most recent previous attempt to modernize copyright law. It had passed second reading in the House of Commons and was in the midst of legislative committee hearings when the most recent federal election was called on March 26, 2011, effectively freezing the bill’s progress. As the 2011 election returned a majority conservative government, it is almost certain Bill C-11, which was exactly the same as Bill C-32 when introduced, and has had only minor amendments following Committee review, and following third reading and Senate review will likely receive royal assent quickly—possibly even before summer 2012.

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