No site blocking, no elimination of safe harbors, and no automated content filters:
The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has published its long-awaited review of Canada’s Copyright Act. The review, which serves as guidance for the Government, rejects a non-judicial site-blocking regime and keeps the current safe harbors intact.
After dozens of hearings, where it heard hundreds of witnesses and reviewed input from various stakeholders, the final review is now ready and published in public.
Related proposals suggested narrowing the ‘safe harbor’ for online service providers (OSPs). This includes changes to sections 31.1 and 41.27 of the Copyright Act, including abolishing these altogether.
While the Committee acknowledged the “value gap” problem for rightsholders, it stresses that the rights of Internet users should be taken into account as well.
The Committee finds it questionable, for example, that online services would be required to take down or de-monetize content, without allowing the uploader to respond to allegations of copyright infringement. That appears to refer, indirectly, to the EU’s Article 17.
Instead of making any concrete suggestions, the Committee recommends keeping an eye on how the EU deals with this issue, and draw lessons from this approach. Ultimately, however, any changes should be in the best interests of all Canadians, which is summarized in two recommendations.
“Recommendation 21: That the Government of Canada monitor the implementation, in other jurisdictions, of extended collective licensing as well as legislation making safe harbour exceptions available to online service providers conditional to measures taken against copyright infringement on their platforms.”
“Recommendation 22 That the Government of Canada assert that the content management systems employed by online service providers subject to safe harbour exceptions must reflect the rights of rights-holders and users alike.”
Moving onto enforcement against traditional pirate sites, the Committee reviewed input from various stakeholders who suggested the introduction of a site-blocking regime.
“The fight against piracy should focus more on large-scale, commercial infringers, and less on individual Canadians who may or may not understand that they are engaged in infringement,” the Committee notes, adding that it sees value in pirate site blocking.
To this end, the Telecommunications Act could be revised to streamline the blocking process. However, creating a separate regime that would bypass the courts, as several rightsholders have suggested, goes too far.
Considering the fact that these sorts or reviews are dominated by the monopolists who want absolute and control, with user rights, history, and the public good be damned, this is a remarkably good outcome.
The cost of publishing has fallen off a cliff in the past few decades, and I do not see how the public interest is served by increasing the power of license holders.
The deal is that incentives like copyright are supposed to encourage people to overcome the barriers to publishing, not to create ever expanding opportunities for looting by rentiers.