Canada's backing TV-over-Net bill

A small Canadian company fighting to show U.S. television programs on the Internet remains in limbo this week, as lawmakers consider amendments to the country's copyright laws that could set important new digital broadcasting rules.

A small Canadian company fighting to show U.S. television programs on the Internet remains in limbo this week, as lawmakers consider amendments to the country's copyright laws that could set important new digital broadcasting rules.

A copyright bill was presented to Parliament on Wednesday, capping two years of contentious debate over nascent services that capture broadcasts of hit shows such as NBC's "Frazier" and make them available online.

Canada allows retransmission of broadcasts for satellite and cable companies under compulsory license, which permits the use of copyrighted material under a royalty rate set by law. It has been unclear, however, whether Internet retransmissions are covered by the current rules.

"This bill will clarify that the compulsory license applies to cable and satellite companies, but will leave the door open for Internet companies, or anyone else for that matter, as a matter of regulation," said a spokesman for Canada's Department of Heritage, which handles copyright law in cooperation with the Department of Industry. He added that specific regulation will be worked out in the next few months. --Evan Hansen, Special to ZDNet News

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