Over the past year the House Heritage Committee has been preparing its Shifting Paradigms report which was released in May 2019. The report considers and discusses some of the current challenges and possible solutions pertaining to the ecosystem in which artists work. It also speaks to reinvigorating copyright in Canada. This report is of interest to a broad scope of people including members of the art scene such as musicians and publishers to those in digital media and tech industries.
At a high level the report states that several major themes emerged from the Committee’s analysis: the increasing value gap, the decline in the artistic middle class, the impact of technology on creative industries, changes in consumer culture and the indigenous perspective on copyright.
The report makes 22 recommendations ranging from technical fixes to broader conceptual ones. Highlights of some of the key changes are:
Safe Harbour Provision: One of the more substantial changes recommended is the review of safe harbour exceptions for digital intermediaries and internet service providers. This is proposed as an attempt to curb piracy. While these organizations are currently immune from liability for the potential copyright infringements of their users, the modification of this provision could lead to a shift in the notice regime Canada employs in cases of infringement. Further this could alter the responsibilities of an organization that is seen to be providing consumers with internet access.
Copyright Board Reform: The report speaks to reforming the Copyright Board so that the system as a whole can more rapidly respond to industry changes, such as adapting to technological developments. The intention is to have a positive economic impact on those who create the works, while also aiding in the overall competitiveness of the Canadian creative industry.
Fair Dealing: Proposed changes that would impact the publishing and education sectors through a revision of fair dealing laws are also addressed. Specifically the proposal relates to revisiting the fair dealing laws for educational institutions where the work is otherwise commercially available. This stands to benefit the publishing industry and the authors of the content. This proposed change has already been met with resistance from the post-secondary education sector, with the countervailing consideration being the potential increase to the cost of education.
Streaming: Recommendations are made to increase regulation of streaming services to align more closely with other regulations of music services in Canada.
Increased Term of Protection: A proposed amendment to Article 6 of the Copyright Act is made which would extend the term of protection to 70 years from the author’s death instead of 50 years. This is a significant increase to an author’s protection.
International Obligations: The report also recommends greater adherence to Canada’s international commitments through the various treaties and conventions the government has signed on to, such as the Berne Convention.
While the report’s recommendations are one part of an overarching review that will occur prior to an updated Copyright Act, this report seemingly aims to benefit the producers and artists creating the content of Canada’s creative industries, with additional benefits impacting all of Canada. The report concludes that “the continued creation of content depends on adequate remuneration for those who create it”.