Review of the Copyright Act in 2017
The Copyright Act is required to be reviewed by the federal government every five years. The next review will be held in 2017. It is impossible to know at this point which topics the federal Government will focus on. However, we expect that stakeholders will be raising the following issues, which could mean major changes in the world of copyright.
- First, the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has just issued a report calling for the federal government to examine the mandate, practices and resources of the Copyright Board of Canada as part of the 2017 review. The Copyright Board, which sets the fees paid for many large-scale uses of copyright-protected works, has faced criticism over the length of time its processes take. The result of the government's review could be an expansion of the Copyright Board's resources or the imposition of statutory deadlines on the Board.
- Second, we expect that the government will be hearing requests from the educational publishing industry to roll back the exceptions in the Act for educational uses of copyright-protected materials. The expansion of fair dealing to include the purpose of "education" in Bill C-11, as well as Supreme Court case law considering fair dealing to be a user's right, have been the subject of controversy in the publishing industry. This is because one of the results of these changes has been a decrease in photocopy licensing royalties paid to publishing companies.
- Third, Canada's "notice and notice" regime, which requires ISPs to forward notices of alleged copyright infringement to their subscribers, has been subject to criticism because of the proliferation of copyright infringement notices containing threatening messages and possibly unjustified settlement demands. We expect stakeholders to raise this issue and ask the federal government to regulate the content of these notices.
Following the federal government's review of these and other issues, we may see some significant changes being pursued in the copyright environment in 2017.
Ariel Thomas is an associate lawyer at Fasken Martineau's Ottawa office. Her practice focuses primarily on intellectual property (copyright and trademarks), communications regulatory law and litigation. Laura Konkel is an articling student at the Ottawa office.