Copyright protection is in a state of transition. The change brought about by the digital age has rendered the traditional model of copyright obsolete. Digitization and the Internet have altered the very nature of intellectual property, by allowing it to be non-rival, intangible, and easily accessible. Breakdowns in traditional intermediaries, the rise of user generated content, and Peer-to-Peer file sharing have played a profound role in reshaping how intellectual goods are created, used and distributed. These technological advances have brought to light a series of important policy questions about intellectual property rights in Canada and around the world. Bill C-11, a series of Supreme Court decisions in the summer of 2012, as well as movements in international law have sought to address these technological shifts. However, these actions are only the first step in addressing an ever-evolving problem.
The original purpose of copyright sought to balance the protection of the holder and the user. In the simplest sense copyright gave creators a monopoly over their work for a fixed amount of time. This was beneficial to both the copyright holder and the user as it insured a reasonably equitable balance between protection and freedom of use. However, over time this balance became more and more heavily weighted in the direction of the copyright holder. While recent amendments to the Copyright Act have sought to rectify this imbalance and address the challenges of the digital age, the development of copyright law for modern times is still a work in progress. Issues such as copyright enforcement, the flexibility of the fair dealing clause, how to regulate user generated content, and technological neutrality remain contentious. All in all the Copyright Act is analog legislation operating in a digital world, and will require an in depth examination before it can evolve into effective policy. This study aims to clarify the issue that will continue to bedevil policymakers in Canada, as elsewhere.