Canada’s Copyright Act

View Canada’s copyright act

Canada signs the Marrakesh Treaty

Previous Amendments

Since 2008, a number of bills were put forth to modernize Canada's Copyright Act. In 2012, the new Act came into force. OLA was involved in consultations during this process and created resources for members:

The Copyright Modernization Act was introduced June 2, 2010.

OLA's response to Bill-C32

CLA's response to The Copyright Modernization Act

September 2008, Bill C-61, 
An Act to Amend the Copyright Act, “died on the order paper”. However, the process prompted people to consider changes, and the impact, should the Act be amended. The CLA Working Group, at which OLA has representation, developed a discussion paper that articulates the potential changes and their impacts on the library community and users rights.
The report can be found on the 'resources' section of

Key points from a preliminary review of the act (July, 2010):

  • Bill C-32, also known as the Copyright Modernization Act, may impact libraries across Canada.  Several changes in the bill relate to libraries’ access to copyright material in digital form:
  • Libraries, archives and museums (LAMs) would be permitted to make a transfer to new archiving technology as older technologies start becoming obsolete, rather than having to wait until older technologies are obsolete. This would not apply to special libraries.
  • The new Technological Protection Measure provisions (TPM) would impose harsh penalties and stringent rules for breach, but LAMs would have a possible defence available to these provisions.
    (The Act defines a TPM to mean any effective technology, device or component that, in the ordinary course of its operation, either

    (a) controls access to a work, to a performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or to a sound recording and whose use is authorized by the copyright owner; or

    (b) restricts the doing — with respect to a work, to a performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or to a sound recording)
  • The defence states that a LAM would be protected from any remedy, other than having to stop the practice, if it could show that it was unaware a TPM was breached. This would not apply to special libraries.
  • Printed material to electronic format conversions would now be permitted.
  • The ‘fair dealing’ exception would be expanded to include ‘education’ and ‘parody or satire’ as new exceptions for use.
  • Ownership of photographs would be treated the same as other copyrightable works -- although for certain private uses of a commissioned photograph the commissioning party would still have rights.

Importantly, the bill has only recently been through the first reading stage, and may take months to progress through parliament. Follow this bill on the parliamentary website

An analysis of Bill C-32 (An Act to Amend the Copyright Act)

An analysis of Bill C-32 (An Act to Amend the Copyright Act). The attached document in no way provides a legal opinion upon which an institution should rely, but rather provides a review of Bill C-32, with focus on the portions that would appear to have the greatest likelihood of impacting the members of the Ontario Library Association.

(with thanks to the UWO research team: David William George Morrison, Daniel William Hynes, and Justin James Vessair)  

Questions to consider when reviewing new copyright legislation

 Q.1 How does Canada’s copyright laws affect you?

How should existing laws be modernized?
Describe your job.  Talk about who you are and what you do. Tell your own story as a librarian. Talk about the kinds of questions and issues you face with copyright and how it impacts your ability to fulfill your role as a librarian.  Speak of your personal experience.  Also talk about how © impacts you as a private user of information.  Don’t need to have expertise … just tell your story.

Principles:  Fair dealing;  access to information;  openness;  balance;  flexibility

 Q.2 Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time?
The law needs to have inherent flexibility based on broad, balanced principles so it isn’t necessary to carve out specific exceptions each time a particular situation arises that needs to be addressed.  Should the Act be amended each time we have a new technology to deal with?
Principles:  flexibility; balance; format neutrality

 Q.3 What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
Openness and communication. Think about how the flow of information fosters innovation and creativity.  How can the law support this?  Your answers may be shaped by the way you think libraries and librarians help shape innovation and creativity.

Principles:  Broad fair dealing;  openness;  access to information

 Q.4 What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
Openness and communication. Open access to information is critical for the sharing of knowledge in support of economic growth.  Your answers may be shaped by the way you think libraries and librarians help shape competition and investment.

Principles:  Openness ; balance

 Q.5 What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?
Librarians must counter the position that we have to implement WIPO.  If we implement WIPO, then we get digital protection measures, which will lead to a limitation of users rights to access information – even for Fair Dealing purposes. We need more openness, more access. We need rights for the disabled.  Ask yourself:  what do librarians need from the Copyright Act to contribute to Canada as a leader?

Principles:  Openness, Fair Dealing;  Access for the Disabled, Access to government information.