When they speak about copyright law, politicians frequently cite the impact on innovation and job creation. They also use terms like “modernization” and “balancing act” to describe the goals of copyright reform.
In 2012, the Canadian parliament passed The Copyright Modernization Act. Whether you supported or opposed the legislation depended on your perspective – the bill passed with unanimous endorsement of one party, the Conservatives, and in spite of equally unanimous objection from Liberal and New Democratic Party members.
“The issue comes to finding the correct balance, and both creators and users really wanting the maximum they can get out of the copyright laws,” notes Lesley Ellen Harris, lawyer and well-respected copyright blogger. “The speed at which technology is changing, it is sometimes difficult for the law to keep up. But generally, copyright laws are written with language that is fairly flexible to encompass new technologies, and then it’s up to the courts to apply the new technology – or what we call the new facts or circumstances— to the existing law.”
In the fourth and latest edition of Canadian Copyright Law, Harris underscores how Canada’s cultural history has shaped its legal tradition. “We have French Canada and English Canada,” she tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “When it comes to federal laws like the Canadian Copyright Act, we have influence from not only all political groups in Canada, but also cultural. For instance, the protection of moral rights – the rights that protect the reputation and honor of an author – are much stronger in Canada than in the United States. And that’s really because of the cultural aspects of Canada and the makeup of the country.”