Say goodbye to copyright in Canada, eh?

Say goodbye to copyright in Canada, eh?

Summary: Last week's set of Canadian Supreme Court decisions gutting the copyright laws make me wonder whether there is any serious jurisprudence in Canada.

TOPICS: Legal, Uncategorized


In Canada, what we in the US call "fair use" is called "fair dealing." In short, fair use or dealing refers to how much of something you're allowed to copy, for what purposes, before you've infringed on someone's copyright. So, for example, if I'm writing a ZDNet piece about something I saw on the CBC's website then it's okay for me to copy a quote:

And in a case that has implications for how schools and teachers can use photocopied textbook material, the top court rejected an earlier ruling from the Copyright Board that said a royalty had to be paid because the use of material wasn't covered by the "fair dealing" provision in copyright legislation.

What happened was, last week in a series of five decisions, the Supreme Court of Canada radically expanded notions of fair dealing/use. The full impact won't be felt for months or years, but it's no longer clear to creators of content just how much of their content people can copy for free.

I'm not one to take gratuitous South Park-esque potshots at Canada. I like Canadians. Some of my best friends are Canadians. But this set of Supreme Court decisions really makes me wonder whether there is any serious jurisprudence happening in Canada. The decisions are an intellectual mess and read like they were designed by the average online hater of intellectual property rights.

Actually, I take it back, there is some serious jurisprudence in Canada: the dissenting opinions. The key case was decided 5-4 and others were 6-3 or variants. Those minorities are on the right side of history.


Topics: Legal, Uncategorized

Steven Shaw

About Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw used to be a litigation attorney at Cravath, Swaine &gMoore, a New York law firm, and is now the online community managergfor and the Director of New Media Studies at thegInternational Culinary Center.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Hooray for the Canadians!

    Finally some sanity to copyright law! I think it is absolutely reprehensible how copyright holders in the US nickle and dime users of their works, and have Congress pass laws with vastly disproportionate penalties when use of their content is abused.

    I like the Canadians' tech neutrality concept to copying content. E.g. I don't understand why it is okay to copy songs and video onto audio and video cassettes, but is not okay to copy digital content for personal use, without DRM encumbrances. Please don't tell me about the quality of the recordings. When audio and video cassettes were released, Hollywood predicted the demise of the industry, when all they did, was increase business. I think it is disgraceful how Hollywood and the recording industry owns the US government, and the US government doesn't have the gonads to defend its own citizens, and tell these guys to adapt or die.
    P. Douglas
    • The rulings make perfect sense

      It's ridiculous to claim a music same should be paid for, or that different distribution mediums should be treated differently.

      Education has an exemption in many countries for obvious reasons.

      I hope they next turn their attention to the patent system, even more destructive.
      Richard Flude
  • "EH"

    Maybe you need to understand the following
    "They will still have to pay a royalty to copy a song, but will no longer be charged a separate tariff for transmitting it to a customer over the internet."
    In Canada we were being charged 3 times at min for the right down load music.
    1) tariff on DVD, IPod, PC Etc.
    2) tariff on copyright for actual owner
    3) tariff for the right to download the song.
    All this did was remove one tariff, so the artist only gets paid twice not three times.

    Please unless you understand something keep your nose out of it we are so over taxes to paid these starving artist living the high life, we don't need you helping them to more of our money.
    • "Please unless you understand something keep your nose out of it"

      When did that ever worked on trolls? :-P
      • True

        But the author being the "Director of New Media Studies" Should know better to read and understand his topic. though we seem to have a long history on ZDNET with that not being the case,
      • So the author of this article is a troll?

        Good to know.

  • Goodbye

    "There is no practical difference between buying a durable copy of the work in a store, receiving a copy in the mail, or downloading an identical copy using the Internet."
    Only the legal profession could spend vast quantities of money debating the above. The real problem, which Shaw, like all the other feeble ZDNET bloggers on the subject refuse to tackle is contained at the end of another sentence ...
    "... additional copyright layers would punish internet efficiencies: "

    I would argue that the current copyright layer punishes Internet efficiencies, for it prolongs the reign of the middle men: the media moguls and their empires; the Telecommunications companies, the banks and the money collectors like VISA and AMEX. So let's chuck out the parasitic jurisprudence layer too ... and use common sense to deliver almost all the profit direct to the authors, without the middle men.

    Continuing the analogy: what is the difference between downloading a music snippet ... and the usual practice of listening to a snippet on the headphones in a music store? None.
    I don't think we should abandon IP rights ... just rework the whole intellectual, technological and business mess for the Digital Era. [Making it so simple that we marginalise the legal profession as well as the middlemen along the way.]

    Hello future
  • Canada is looking better and better!

    Steven Shaw is a copyright propagandist blogger, who doesn't understand how IP has negatively effected innovation and consumer rights... but I love the replies to this article. It shows that the majority of people are just about fed up with corporate copyright abuse and feel Canada did the right thing.
  • This is typical for a blogger and for this site

    Short on detail, long on opinion!

    Digital copyright laws in this country (US) are so f ed up that if you're using our laws as a baseline, then you're already messed up. The problem with this POS is that you give no details about what the law was before or what it is now. You don't support your argument, nor do you give enough details for anyone to really form their own opinion. Basically, this article, if you want to call it that, is a worthless POS!
  • Reality check: FAILED.

    Mr. Shaw tried to justify a blatant attempt at lobbying mudding the waters, but unfortunately for him, the issues are VERY clear to the general US population.
    But we are in a democracy so anyone is entitled to his own opinion...
  • Sorry ZDnet, but Shaw needs to go.

    This wasn't an informative article, just a shout-out on behalf of the media cartel's lobbyists.
    terry flores
    • Shaw does need to go...

      He would be disbarred for his disparaging remarks about the courts, if he were a member of some Canadian Bar association. To say that Canadian judges are producing an "intellectual mess", just because he doesn't happen to agree, is abrasive at best and out right injurious at worse. If American lawyers are permitted such comments, it is not the case for Canada. I have been rebuked for much less, and no where near as public.

      As a Canadian Lawyer, actually licensed to practice law in Quebec, I find the Supreme Court's decisions to make much sense. As a private Canadian citizen, I'm also quite offended by Shaw's unjustified comments, and would ask that he kept his opinions to himself. He should not be permitted to write such nonsense, all the more so if he is not a member of a Canadian Bar association. If he is a member of a Canadian Bar, I would consider making a complaint.
      • It's the arrogance of the American legal system

        They think the rest of the world should be as corrupt as they are.
      • Why the call for opposing voices to be silenced?

        The author expressed an opinion, many talkbackers countered.

        There's a worrying trend to silence opinions one doesn't agree with, on this site and in the wider community. Quite disturbing actually.
        Richard Flude
        • I agree

          SJVN and Adrian also being targeted.

          I've never called for Shaw to be banned like some others here.
  • Lemme get this straight . . .

    Lemme get this straight - if they disagree with you, it's a lack of jurisprudence?

    What planet are you from?
  • "I'm not one to take gratuitous South Park-esque potshots at Canada."

    You just did! "But this set of Supreme Court decisions really makes me wonder whether there is any serious jurisprudence happening in Canada."

    You re-define talking your own book. Shameful... Really...
  • Nice Read

    For those just looking for a little more truth about this, you can read the following
  • Care to tell us why they're wrong?

    Serious jurists are supposed to focus on whether or not a particular interpretation is correct, not on who they think should win. But then again, you've proven at least ten times over that you are not a serious legal commentator.
    John L. Ries
  • Who is this shill?

    OK, we get it. Mr. Shaw will not be happy until the day of the week is someone's "intellectual property." It's not surprising a big publisher like CBS would push this twaddle as if there's not another side to the issue. But I'll be skipping this entirely predictable blog in the future.
    none none