Copyright Modernization Act about Illegal Downloading

Copyright Modernization Act about Illegal Downloading
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An Act to amend the Copyright Act, also known as Bill C-11 or the Copyright Modernization Act, received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012, and most of its provisions were brought into force on November 7, 2012. All remaining sections were brought into force by January 2, 2015. One of these sections requires Internet Service Providers (ISP) and website hosts to notify their users when copyright holders have detected illegal downloading.

Now, if an ISP receives a complaint from a copyright holder, they must forward it to the customer tied to the unique Internet Protocol (IP) address, where the illegal downloading is alleged to have occurred, or face fines. The ISPs must also record customer logs for 6 months at least.

A letters from a copyright holder to the ISP’s customers associated with the IP address of the illegal downloading do not carry any immediate legal consequences; it is rather “a warning” that the copyright holder has noticed illegal downloading activity at that IP address and could decide to sue.

Fines for the illegal downloading for individuals can be up to $5,000 if copyrighted content was downloaded for personal use, and up to $20,000 – if for commercial use.

The Act contained many significant provisions. It:

  • Makes explicit allowance for time shifting, format shifting and backup copies as long as no digital locks are involved.
  • Expands the scope of fair dealing to include education, satire, and parody which enables users to make use of fragments of copyrighted works if no digital locks are involved.
  • Introduces a new exception for user-generated content created using copyrighted works without digital locks.
  • Prohibits the circumvention of digital locks, even for personal use, with some limited exceptions (such as unlocking cell phones).
  • Limits the amount of statutory damages for cases of non-commercial infringement to between $100 and $5,000 for all infringements in a single proceeding for all works. Statutory damages for commercial infringement range from $500 to $20,000 per work infringed.
  • Adopts a “notice-and-notice” regime which requires ISPs to forward any notice alleging infringement received from copyright owners to the subscribers in question.
  • Allows an educational institution or a person acting under its authority to reproduce a work, or do any other necessary act, in order to display it.
  • Allows libraries to reproduce works in its permanent collection in alternate formats if the original format is obsolete, or if the technology required to use the original is no longer available.
  • Requires educational institutions to ensure that copyrighted course materials are destroyed 30 days after the end of said course.
  • Requires libraries to place a 5 day time limit on material borrowed electronically.
  • Makes performers and photographers the primary owners of their commissioned works.
  • Calls for a review of copyright law every five years.




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