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Canada to See Internet Levy?

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Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada Topics: intellectual property, technology

November 23, 2004

Canada to See Internet Levy?

by Shannon Hines

In early November 2004, the standing committee on Canadian Heritage resubmitted its recommendations for updating the Copyright Act of 1998 and ratifying the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty. Among the recommendations is the institution of an Internet "levy." The levy, paid by all Internet users, would go to a collecting society similar to CanCopy. The idea, says the committee, is that everything on the Internet is created — and thus copyrighted — by someone. The collecting society would gather money for copyright owners in exchange for the use of their material.

In comments that appeared in the Globe and Mail on November 11, 2004, copyright lawyers stated that if these changes are made into law, "You will not even be able to own your own wedding pictures or save a Web page without paying for it." Copyright laws currently regulate technologies used to make and distribute copies.

Some say that while an Internet levy is well-intentioned, it ignores the basic fact that the Internet functions as a medium for the inexpensive transfer of large amounts of information.

A technology news commentator for BoingBoing.net wrote, "The approach that WIPO took in regulating the net was to create a set of rules that tried to make the Internet act more like radio, or TV, or photocopiers — like all the things that it had already made rules for. The WIPO approach treated the ease of copying on the net as a bug and set out to fix it."

Chris Brand, a Vancouver software developer, launched a petition for users' rights in April 2004, calling for Parliament to respect public rights in the Copyright Act.

» Globe and Mail: Ottawa's copyright plans wrongheaded, experts say

» Boing Boing: Canada wants an internet lvy – fight back!

» Copyright Act ( R.S. 1985, c. C-42 )

» Petition for Users' Rights

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