History of copyright revision
How has Canada's Copyright Act Been Amended?
Modernization of Canadian copyright law is a work in progress. The Canadian Copyright Act came into force in 1924. Although there were a few amendments made to the Act in the years following its inception, a modernization of the Act did not begin until 1988. Amendments at that time included: an exhibition right for artistic works; explicit protection of computer programs; enhanced moral rights; the creation of a new Copyright Board; increased criminal sanctions; measures to improve the collective administration of copyright and the abolition of compulsory licences for the recording of musical works (a provision which compelled a copyright owner to allow someone to use his or her work subject to payment of a specified royalty rate).
In January 1989, following the signing of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the Copyright Act was amended to require cable and satellite companies to pay for the retransmission of works included in distant broadcast signals. The amendments also expanded the concept of "communication to the public" from broadcasting to include all forms of telecommunication.
In 1993, the passage of Bill C-88 further amended the Act. The main objectives of this Bill were to redefine "musical work" to clarify that the Act covered both graphic and acoustic representations of music, and to ensure that all transmitters -- whether broadcasters, specialty or pay services, or cable systems -- were liable for royalties.
When the North American Free Trade Implementation Act came into force on January 1, 1994, the Copyright Act was amended to introduce a rental right for sound recordings and computer programs (a rental right permits copyright owners to authorize or prohibit the rental of their works). It also increased protection against the importation of pirated works (e.g. literary, musical or dramatic works).
Amendments in the World Trade Organization Agreement Implementation Act, which came into force on January 1, 1996, extended the copyright protection afforded by the Copyright Act to all World Trade Organization (WTO) countries and gave performers protection against bootleg audio recordings (an unauthorized recording of a live event) and unauthorized live transmissions of their performances.
In Geneva, on December 20, 1996, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Diplomatic Conference on Certain Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Questions adopted two treaties, namely the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. These Treaties address the issue of copyright protection in the new digital environment.
The Government of Canada signed the treaties in December 1997. Canada would be required to amend its Copyright Act in order to comply. However, the required amendments are not expected to be extensive since Canada's copyright legislation, as amended in 1997, already provides a framework for copyright protection that is largely up to date.
Please see the Copyright Reform Process Website for information on the current round of reforms.