FYI amendments to Canadian copyright law

Oksana Dykyj (
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 15:07:51 +0000 (HELP)

Listserv colleagues on both sides of the border:

As many of you know the long-awaited Phase II of the Canadian copyright
reform legislation (aka Bill C-32) was finally enacted this past April 25th.
Some of its provisions were proclaimed and have now been in force since
September 1. Many of us hoped for educational exemptions approaching those
already in place in the United States, but as a result of intensive lobbying
efforts on the part of copyright holders or their representatives, several
limitations were introduced at the eleventh hour so that the exceptions in
favour of educational institutions do not represent as much progress as had
been anticipated.

Following is an outline of the major provisions related to non-print and

The law allows live performances "primarily by students", the performance of
a sound recording, and of legally received telecommunications such as radio
and television broadcasts. This would permit students to perform plays and
read poetry in class as well as watch live television and play CD's or
audiotapes. It would not include the screening of films and videos which
would still require obtaining the relevant public performance license from a
collective/distributor. The students therefore could listen to the original
cast recording of say, _Evita_, perform it in class, but not be able to
watch the video without obtaining a public performance license.

However, it is permitted to reproduce, translate or perform (public
performance) a work, or to communicate by telecommunication to the persons
on the premises of the University, a work (film/video) or other subject
matter REQUIRED FOR A TEST OR EXAMINATION. (The original wording
read,"required for an assignment, test or examination. Since it could be
argued that everything done in class ultimately relates to an assignment,
the word was dropped)

It WILL BE permitted to record off-air news programs or news commentary
programs, excluding documentaries (no definition of documentary is
provided), for the purpose of private study and public performance to
students within one year after the making of a copy, subject to conditions
at the expiration of one year. This provision is not in force yet, but it it
is expected to be proclaimed within a few months (or years, at the rate
we're going...)

It WILL BE permitted to record programs off-air and to keep the copy for up
to thirty days for evaluation purposes, that is to say , to decide whether
to show the copy in class. After the thirty day period, the copy must be
destroyed or the institution must pay the appropriate royalties if it wishes
to keep the copy. Just like the previous provision, this one is not in force
yet. In both the above cases the works must be performed on the premises of
the academic institution for the purposes of education or training and not
for profit.

Our nebulous fair dealing concept (nothing as wonderfully clear as the U.S.
Fair Use) has not been defined nor clarified in Bill C-32. In the 1988
Copyright Act, Fair Dealing applied to copies made for purposes of private
study, research, criticism, review or newspaper summary of a work. Bill C-32
extends this by adding news reporting among the allowable purposes, subject
to the obligation of mentioning the source. The same condition was added to
criticism and review.

I'm sure all instructors now sleep soundly at night knowing that since
September 1 they can legally manually reproduce a work on a blackboard or
flip chart, or project an image in class using an overhead projector for
teaching purposes. Prior to September 1, this was an infringement of
Canadian copyright law!

Phase III will deal with digital issues...

Oksana Dykyj Tel: 514-848-3443
Head, Visual Media Resources Fax: 514-848-3441
Audio-Visual Department H-342
Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve West
Montreal, QC, H3G 1M8