An Act to amend the Copyright Act (40th Canadian Parliament, 3rd Session)

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Bill C-32
House of Commons of Canada
  • An Act to amend the Copyright Act
CitationBill C-32[1]
Enacted byHouse of Commons of Canada
Legislative history
Bill titleBill C-32
Introduced byTony Clement and James Moore
First readingJune 2, 2010[2]
Second readingNovember 5, 2010[2]
Status: Expired

An Act to amend the Copyright Act (Bill C-32) was a bill tabled on June 2, 2010 during the third session of the 40th Canadian Parliament by Minister of Industry Tony Clement and by Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore. This bill served as the successor to the previously proposed but short-lived Bill C-61 in 2008 and sought to tighten Canadian copyright laws.[3] In March 2011, the 40th Canadian Parliament was dissolved, with all the bills which did not pass by that point (including bill C-32) automatically becoming dead.

Many restrictions in the bill were harshly criticized, especially those regarding the circumvention of digital locks. Law professor Michael Geist commented that the bill was introduced by an "out-of-touch Moore, who has emerged as a staunch advocate for a Canadian DMCA".[4] After Bill C-32's introduction, James Moore responded to criticism by calling the bill's detractors "radical extremists".[5] In the aftermath of the bill, the United States diplomatic cables leak revealed ongoing pressure from US officials wanting Canada to pass stricter copyright laws.[6]

The bill was revived in the next Parliament as C-11 on September 29, 2011.[7]


The bill would have criminalized the act of circumventing, or making available to the public the ability to circumvent, digital rights management software locks.[3] These restrictions were described as "arguably worse than those found in the U.S."[8] While explicit mentions of "videocassettes" in Bill C-61 were replaced with technology neutral terms, the copying of DRM encumbered media such as DVDs was still prohibited by Bill C-32.[8] Bill C-32 was also interpreted as banning the user of region-free DVD players.[9] According to CBC News, the bill would have even criminalized "websites designed to encourage violation and piracy".[10] When describing the main principle of the bill, Michael Geist said "anytime a digital lock is used - whether on books, movies, music, or electronic devices - the lock trumps virtually all other rights."[8]

Bill C-32 called for a mandatory review of copyright law every five years. Two clauses it introduced that had not been seen in previous Canadian legislation were an exception that allowed unlocking cell phones and a "YouTube exception" permitting compilations of copyrighted works as long as they had no digital locks.[8] Under the bill libraries lending materials electronically would have been required to make those copies self-destruct within five days. Schools offering online course materials would have been obligated to render those materials inaccessible thirty days after the course's end date.[8] Performers and photographers were set to receive greater control over reproductions of their works.

Bill C-32 sought to subject Internet Service Providers to a "notice and notice" obligation. Such a scheme requires accusations of copyright infringement to be forwarded to the subscribers being accused and information about them kept for a period of time.[8] The bill proposed to limit statutory damages to $5,000 in the case of non-commercial infringement, compared to the previous fine of $20,000 that did not distinguish between commercial and non-commercial.[8]


Many Canadians criticized the bill's attempts to follow American-style copyright law, including Michael Geist who called it "flawed but fixable".[8] Since many rights granted by Bill C-32 were nullified by the digital lock protection, CIPPIC referred to the bill as "a case of Jekyll and Hyde".[11] Artists and consumers both asked for further consultation on the bill, stating that it infringes on the right of private citizens to transfer something they own to another medium, and that the prohibition against circumventing corporate software designed to lock users out would hamper research.[5] After interviewing several copyright lawyers on Bill C-32, The Financial Post concluded that "ultimately, most lawyers suggest that the fair dealing definitions and exceptions should be broadened and consumers should have the right to break digital locks for personal use."[12]

Among groups who opposed Bill C-32 were the Canadian Consumer Initiative[13] and the Documentary Organization of Canada.[14] Charlie Angus of the NDP stated that "the only rights you will get under this bill are those that U.S.-based entertainment concerns decide you get."[13] SOCAN and the Canadian Music Creators Coalition criticized Bill C-32 for not doing enough to compensate artists[15] and the Quebec Bar Association opposed the bill on the grounds that it would create an unnecessary amount of litigation.[16] A protest was held in Calgary on June 27, 2010 citing environmental reasons as well.[17] Some groups such as the Canadian Library Association and the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright generally supported the bill but took issue with DRM circumvention being illegal for personal use.[18][19]

Heritage Minister James Moore drew particular criticism when on June 22, 2010, he warned conference attendees about "radical extremists" who "oppose copyright reform" and suggested that they be confronted on social media.[5] The speech was originally set to contain an admission that Bill C-61 was too restrictive in its protections of digital locks.[20] The specific party vilified in Moore's speech was widely considered to be Michael Geist.[21][22][23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Government Bill (House of Commons) C-32 (40-3) - First Reading - Copyright Modernization Act - Parliament of Canada".
  2. ^ a b "Bill C-32 at LegisInfo". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Reynolds, Graham. The Mark News, How balanced is Bill C-32? Archived February 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Geist, Michael (2010-05-19). "National Post Reports "Heavy Handed" Copyright Law Coming Next Week". Archived from the original on March 23, 2011. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  5. ^ a b c "Copyright debate turns ugly". CBC News. June 24, 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  6. ^ Geist, Michael (2011-04-29). "Wikileaks Cables Show Massive U.S. Effort To Establish Canadian DMCA". Archived from the original on April 30, 2011. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  7. ^ "Harper Government Delivers on Commitment to Reintroduce Copyright Modernization Act". Balanced Copyright. September 29, 2011. Archived from the original on January 27, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Geist, Michael (2010-06-02). "The Canadian Copyright Bill: Flawed But Fixable". Archived from the original on 2010-06-05. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  9. ^ Geist, Michael (2010-05-25). "Seven Copyright Questions for Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore". Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved 2014-05-23.
  10. ^ Nowak, Peter (June 3, 2010). "Copyright bill would ban breaking digital locks". CBC News. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  11. ^ "Grassroots Advocacy: Fix C-32". Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  12. ^ Carlson, Daryl-Lynn (2011-03-10). "Pending copyright law needs a fix". The Financial Post. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  13. ^ a b Nowak, Peter (2010-06-16). "Consumer groups blast Moore over copyright". CBC News. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  14. ^ "New Copyright Bill Hinders Documentary Filmmaking". Mediacaster Magazine. 2010-06-03. Archived from the original on 2014-05-24. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  15. ^ Karrass, Robert (2011-03-02). "Bill C-32: A Lifeline for a Dying Industry". IP Osgoode. Archived from the original on 2014-05-24. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  16. ^ Taylor, Kate (2010-11-01). "Ottawa pushes ahead with copyright bill amid opposition". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  17. ^ "Rally opposing copyright infringement". CTV News. 2010-06-27. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  18. ^ "Canadian Library Association Gives Passing Grade to New Copyright Legislation". CNW. 2010-06-03. Archived from the original on 2014-05-24. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  19. ^ "The Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright welcomes the introduction of the Copyright Modernization Act". CNW. 2010-06-03. Archived from the original on 2014-05-24. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  20. ^ Geist, Michael (2010-12-08). "Canadians told us the TPM provisions in C-61 were too far reaching". Archived from the original on December 11, 2010. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  21. ^ Geist, Michael (2010-06-23). "James Moore's Attack on Fair Copyright". Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  22. ^ Sookman, Barry (2010-06-23). "Minister Moore's Speech on C-32". Retrieved 2014-05-22.
  23. ^ Haggart, Blayne (2010-06-23). ""Radical extremists" and the smearing of Michael Geist". Retrieved 2014-05-22.

External links[edit]