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Supporting Culture and Innovation: Report on the Provisions and Operation of the Copyright Act


The Copyright Act is an important law affecting the many sectors of the Canadian economy as well as the richness, diversity and vibrancy of Canada's cultural life. It is thus a key instrument for promoting Canada's economic, cultural and social development. In modernizing the Copyright Act, policy makers have therefore sought to meet both cultural and economic policy objectives.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that copyright law promotes both the creation and the dissemination of cultural and other works. The cultural policy objective of the Copyright Act is to ensure adequate protection for creators of cultural content and appropriate access for all Canadians to works that enhance the cultural experience. The Copyright Act is seen as the foundation for creative endeavour. It allows traditional cultural industries, such as publishing, music, film and audiovisual, to grow and thrive.

The Copyright Act is also an increasingly important policy instrument for the development of information-based industries, such as business services (e.g. architectural and engineering services, computer services), software and database producers, and Internet service providers (ISPs). Consequently, the Government of Canada is also committed to ensuring that the Copyright Act serves as a powerful lever to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and success in the new economy.

In 2000, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the copyright-related sectors (publishing, film, music, software, visual arts, etc.) was estimated at $65.9 billion or 7.4 percent of Canadian GDP. Between 1992 and 2000, the value of these sectors increased by an annual average of 6.6 percent, compared with 3.3 percent for the rest of the Canadian economy. Together, these sectors formed the third most important contributor to the growth of Canada's economy.

This report is submitted in compliance with section 92 of the Copyright Act. The amendments to the Copyright Act in 1997 (Bill C-32) included an obligation stipulating the following:

Within five years after the coming into force of this section [i.e. September 1997], the Minister [of Industry] shall cause to be laid before both Houses of Parliament a report on the provisions and operation of this Act, including any recommendations for amendments to this Act.

A parliamentary committee will be tasked with reviewing this document and reporting back to Parliament "within one year after the report of the Minister."

This report also follows up on the Government of Canada's paper, A Framework for Copyright Reform1, released by the Ministers of Industry and Canadian Heritage in June 2001 to guide future copyright reform. In that document the Government of Canada recognized that the rapid pace of technological change and international developments affecting copyright meant that large-scale amendments of the Copyright Act may no longer be the most effective approach to copyright reform. It identified a number of matters to be dealt with in future copyright revisions and outlined how it would consider them, consult Canadians and propose legislative amendments in a balanced, step-by-step manner. The Government of Canada invites parliamentarians to consult A Framework for Copyright Reform.

This report initiates the parliamentary review process under section 92 and provides an approach to managing copyright reform. The first chapter sets out the current reform environment, key copyright concepts, an overview of recent legislative history and the Government of Canada's approach to copyright reform. The second chapter provides a description and assessment of how the Copyright Act is currently functioning and key issues that may need to be addressed during the reform process. The third chapter sets out the Government of Canada's recommended approach for managing the reform process and an agenda for grouping priorities for reform.

In today's knowledge economy, copyright policy and law are of growing importance in Canada's economic and cultural success. This report is an important step to ensure that Canada's copyright framework remains among the most modern and progressive in the world. The Government of Canada looks forward to receiving the parliamentary committee's report.

1 Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage, A Framework for Copyright Reform (Ottawa: Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage, 2001)

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