Copyright term extension consultation

Copyright blocking orders

The government just launched a consultation on how to implement an extension to the copyright term for works from 50 to 70 years from the life of the author. Canada agreed to this term extension as part of the Canada-United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). Under that treaty, Canada has 2.5 years to implement the amendment. Extending the term of protection to 70 years would bring Canada into line with the terms of protection of our major trading partners.

This consultation “aims to solicit views from stakeholders and the Canadian public on whether accompanying measures should be adopted to address concerns that have been raised over the potential implications of a longer general copyright term, and if so, what form such measures should take.” The consultation document  may also suggest, however, that Canada should be hesitant in implementing its treaty obligations in a straight forward way because it “seeks the views of stakeholders and the public on whether accompanying measures should be adopted to mitigate some of the potential implications of term extension, and if so, what form these measures should take.”

It is interesting that the consultation document states it is only from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and not also from Canada Heritage. A press release announcing the consultation states, hover, it is from both departments.

The consultation summarizes various options including:

  • Option 1 — Expand Canada’s current orphan works licensing regime / extend regime to out-of-commerce works
  • Option 2 — Collective licensing regime(s) to facilitate use of orphan works and/or out-of-commerce works
  • Option 3 — Permit the use of orphan works and/or out-of-commerce works, subject to claims for equitable remuneration
  • Option 4 — Exception for use of works during the final 20 years of protection
  • Option 5 — Exception for use of works 100 years after their creation

All comments should be sent to [email protected] by March 12, 2021.

Undoubtedly, certain copyright exceptionalists will advocate for weakening the economic rights of authors and artists in the extended term to the extent possible. These arguments will likely be accompanied by recycled inaccurate information about the economic effects of term extensions. The arguments and the normative values they reflect should be carefully examined. See, Barry Sookman, Norms for copyright reform: my submission to the INDU Committee.

For background about the benefits of term extensions for copyright, see prior blogs I have written on this subject:

*Updated Feb 13, 2021.

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