Bill C-61 – Copyright Act Amendments Introduced

From (June 12, 2008):

The federal government has introduced legislation to make it easier to prosecute people who download copyrighted material from the internet.

Industry Minister Jim Prentice tabled amendments to the Copyright Law in the House of Commons Thursday. Individuals caught downloading copyrighted files would be fined $500 under the proposed amendments. The current copyright law — intended to catch commercial cheaters — carries a maximum fine of $20,000 for infringements.

The bill has been in limbo since the Conservatives first put it on the Commons order paper in December. Prentice was caught between business interests who wanted strict protection for intellectual property, such as musical recordings and films, and internet users accustomed to downloading content for free.

From Michael Geist’s blog:

The government plans for second reading at the next sitting of the house, effectively removing the ability to send it to committee after first reading (and therefore be more open to change).

He will be providing more analysis once he has had a chance to read the Bill.


  1. The government should make this bill strictly for charging those who make copyrighted material available, and there should be no penalty whatsoever for those who find and download material from the Internet. If it is available it should not be a crime to download it. Stop those making it available, and there will be no downloading of copyrighted material… the solution is simple.

  2. This is an Email I sent our Prime Minister on June 12, 2008.

    To Mr. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
    As a Canadian Citizen, I am angry, that you will use our hard earned Tax Payers money on a simple useless bill to reform the copyright law. This new proposed legislation is not a Canadian issue, but an American dictated issue. Since when has Canada become a dictatorship. This law is not only going to hurt good decent people, but yourself and your party in the next federal election. Canada is not a member nor a state in the USA, it isnt the 53rd state. We are Canadians, 100% Canadians, I didnt take an oath to become an american citizen, but did you. Canada has one of the Strongest Copyright Laws in the world, why do you feel like it needs to be changed when it is just fine the way it is. I dont mind paying a levy tax that supports the artists in the music and motion picture industry on all CD/DVD media, TV’s, Home Theater units, certain computer hardware/software, etc, just to have to right to download from the internet. The internet was created to allow people to connect with one another throughout the world, and to share, upload, and download. Taking away people’s rights is wrong. Canada was not founded under a Dictatorship, but as a Democracy, and to let the United States interfere with our countries beliefs and policies is Wrong, like it says in our national Anthem “the true north strong and free”. Introducing this American dictated law certainly takes away that meaning. If your looking for a re-election to become Prime Minister again, I would not, and I strongly say I WOULD NOT introduce this law now nor in the future, cause you will severely tarnish the PC party and its reputation, just like Brian Mulroney did when he introduced GST.

    I would like to see our money spent on other issues, such as catching online predators that prey on the weak and children, building new Jails to support the ever demanding prison population increases, more money to our police forces accross the nation, education, healthcare, infostructure, issues like that, which are important, not on this copyright law which isnt an important issue and never really has been. If your going to let the USA walk all over us, or the european union, then maybe we should give up our constitution, and become puppets of the United States, which is basically what you and your party have become. Everytime a canadian made bill is introduced, the united states steps in and makes us get rid of it, cause they dont like what it means for them, like the Maurijuana bill that never got passed through parliament, Cause the USA saw it as a security threat to there country and citizens.

    If this Copyright bill gets passed through parliament and becomes law, as a Canadian citizen I will have lost all faith in the PC government, and refuse to vote your party back into power again. I wasnt born as a Canadian to vote in American puppets as our leaders, only true Canadians as leaders. So please as a Canadian, learn to stand on your own 2 feet, and make decisions based on Canadian views, and not other countries, stop letting the USA hold you and your party up and getting them to dictate there views to you, your party, and the rest of CANADA.

    Mr. Kirk Bannister
    Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

  3. Art: That is an interesting idea.

    Kirk: Thank you for sharing your letter.

  4. I have sent this email to my member of parliment. Feel free to copy it in part or whole to send to yours.

    13 June 2008
    Honourable Rahim Jaffer
    Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Strathcona

    Dear Mr. Jaffer,

    This is to request your support in opposing Bill C-61 Copyright Act, specifically the areas under the heading “Infringement of Copyright and Other Rights, And Exceptions.” This bill proposes to take away Canadians’ rights to fair use with copyrighted media, specifically and of most concern, digital music and video.

    Up until now it has been legal for a person to buy a movie or musical work and make copies of it for their own personal use, especially for the purpose of transferring said media to a medium not supporting the format they purchased the media in, as well as for backup purposes. For example, a common practise is for a person to purchase an album on audio CD, and then make digital copies on their computer for convenience as well as transferring it to a portable media player that does not support audio CDs. This bill intends to outlaw such practise whenever an anti-copying mechanism is present (C-61 14[2.1][f]) as is the case on most digital media. As you may or may not be aware, optical discs (CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray discs etc) are a very fragile medium. Dirt, scuffs, and scratches on the data side cause an audio disc to stutter and skip, on a video disc cause the playback to freeze. A scratch on the label side can render the whole disc unuseable. Even with the strictest preventative measures, a commercial CD or DVD will only last five to ten years before it begins to deteriorate. This bill intends to force consumers to not only purchase a copy for each medium they want to use, but in the case of physical media, to also re-purchase their copy every few years. This is a blatant cash grab on the part of the recording artists and motion pictures associations, as well as the big labels, as they toss all logic and common sense out the window, not to mention basic consumer rights.

    If you are at all familiar with the MPAA and RIAA you will be well aware of their current tactics in the United States. They use illegal tactics to obtain information on potential music and movie “pirates” (I use the term loosely, to include anyone downloading copyrighted media) in order to sue them for ridiculous amounts of money. These associations claim to do this on behalf of the artists and producers, yet not a penny of their winnings have gone to any of the people they claim to be fighting on behalf of. These days, a musical artist will only earn pennies for every copy of an album that is sold, with the lion’s share going to the record labels and producers. Recent surveys have shown that people who download copyrighted music are *MORE* likely to purchase it, contrary to the RIAA’s claims of lost sales, and most artists today earn their living through concerts and merchandise, not from royalties on their albums. If Bill C-61 passes, it will allow the RIAA to expand their unethical tactics into our country.

    Mr Jaffer, I strongly urge you to oppose Bill C-61 for the aforemetioned reasons. This bill should be limited to prosecuting those who make copyrighted material available. If this bill passes it will prove to American interests that they can pressure our government to limit our citizens’ freedoms to their monetary gain. We cannot keep making the same mistake of bowing to American pressure, as Canada has done since Diefenbaker scrapped the Avro Arrow program, contributing to the bankruptcy of one of the world’s most promising aviation companies as well as the massive brain drian to the States. This is why you need to take a stand against this bill when it reaches its second reading in the House of Commons.

    Your concerned supporter,

    Chris Tower
    Edmonton, AB

  5. Here is the email I recieved from the PM’s office today:

    Dear Mr. Bannister:

    On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to thank you for your e-mail, in which you raised an issue which falls within the portfolio of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry. The Prime Minister always appreciates receiving correspondence on subjects of importance to Canadians. Please be assured that the statements you made have been carefully reviewed. I have taken the liberty of forwarding your e-mail to Minister Prentice, so that he too may be made aware of your comments. I am certain that the Minister will give your views every consideration. For more information on the Government’s initiatives, you may wish to visit the Prime Minister’s Web site, at

    L.A. LavellExecutive Correspondence Officerfor the Prime Minister’s OfficeAgent de correspondancede la haute directionpour le Cabinet du Premier ministre

    and here is another one I sent to the liberal party on the issue at hand as well:

    Dear Kirk,

    Thank you for taking the time to contact the Liberal Party of Canada on the Conservative government’s new Copyright Act Bill C-61. While we agree that the Copyright Act must be updated in consideration of new technologies, we also understand that the Act must balance the needs of consumers and creators. In particular, we are concerned about the Bill’s treatment of copyright protection measures as we believe that these provisions should not take away rights from Canadians. Due to the technical nature of the bill, we will need to study it carefully and consult with consumers, artists, and the business community before we determine how we will proceed. We want to ensure that the final bill fosters innovation and fairly compensates creators. I hope that this email answers your question. Have a nice day.


    Scott Blurton
    Agent de communications électroniques/Electronic Communications Officer
    Parti libéral du Canada/Liberal Party of Canada

    We will have to see now if there is going to be any real debate on the issue at hand, I for one highly doubt it, we need politicians in parliament who actually care about each individual canadian rather than the ever so deep pockets of corporations. Also we need to stop the USA from putting there 2 sence into our views and Policies, as I want to say to the USA and them corporations, F.U.!!!

  6. In the end, they always do what they want to do, unfortunately.

  7. Chris: Thank you for sharing your letter and making it available for copy.

    Kirk: Thank you for the follow-up.

    Valerie: It does sound good, but I can’t help but wonder if you aren’t right in your assessment.

  8. “Under the [US] Constitution’s view of copyright, if the public prefers to be able to make copies in certain cases even if that means somewhat fewer works are published, the public’s choice is decisive. There is no possible justification for prohibiting the public from copying what it wants to copy.

    Ever since the constitutional decision was made, publishers [i.e., of movies & music] have tried to reverse it by misinforming the public. They do this by repeating arguments which presuppose that copyright is a natural right of authors (not mentioning that authors almost always cede it to publishers). People who hear these arguments, unless they have a firm awareness that this presupposition is contrary to the basic premises of our legal system, take for granted that it is the basis of that system.
    This error is so ingrained today that people who oppose new copyright powers feel the need to do so by arguing that even authors and publishers may be hurt by them. Thus, James Boyle explains how a strict intellectual property system can interfere with writing new works. Jessica Litman cites the copyright shelters which historically allowed many new media to become popular. Pamela Samuelson warns that the… may block the development of ‘third-wave’ information industries by locking the world into the ‘second-wave’ economic model that fit the age of the printing press…
    …the danger is that we may allow the publishers to replace the Constitution uncontested…
    Conspicuously absent from the list is the most important reason of all: that many… (perhaps most) want to continue making copies. The DFC fails to criticize the core goal… which is to give more power to publishers, and its central decision, to reject the Constitution and place the publishers above the users…
    …Resisting the pressure for additional power for publishers depends on widespread awareness that the reading and listening public are paramount; that copyright exists for users and not vice versa. If the public is unwilling to accept certain copyright powers, that is ipso facto justification for not offering them. Only by reminding the public and the legislature of the purpose of copyright and the opportunity for the open flow of information can we ensure that the public prevails.”
    ~ Reevaluating Copyright: The Public Must Prevail
    [Published in Oregon Law Review, Spring 1996]
    Richard Stallman

  9. I have been searching everywhere for an answer to a simple question. When does the Corporate Government vote on this law?

    I have no doubt that the Corporate Party of Canada will pass this law into being.

    I need to know when they will do it so I can be prepared.

    When please? Does anyone know?

    That’s all anybody needs to know is when to run to the survival shelter and bolt the door.

    I want to be prepared for Canadian Internet Doomsday.

    Thank You.

  10. Did they buy huge quantites of Cyclon-B yet?

  11. First Reading of Bill C-61 is here. So far it has only had First Reading in the House of Commons. I don’t have a sense of the timing, how quickly they hope to pass it through.

  12. September. September will be the firs topportunity they hae to vote on it.

  13. I totally agree with alot of these comments. Charge the person/person/entity that is allowing copyrighted material to be downloaded. If implemented would that include bands just starting out who put their music up for download? What about the record companies who do the same to promote their artists? If the government is going to pass the law they should implement this as an amendment to it, fairs fair paint everyone with the same brush not just single out a segment of the population.

  14. Why is this so hard to find information on? I hadn’t even heard of it until recently. And no one I’ve talked to knows anything about it. Will they publicize it if/when it passes? I would like some advance warning to get all of my music onto my mp3 player before I get slapped with a 20k fine… it hasn’t happened yet, has it?