Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement could spell more trouble for Canadian digital media legislation

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, …It feels like Canadians are out of the furnace and into the fire when it comes to downloading and piracy legislation.

Last week, Bill C-11 passed its final vote in the House and moved to the Senate for its final approval before becoming law. While many of the provisions weren't ones that most Canadians were in favour of, it could have been much worse.

How much worse? If the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is implemented in Canada, we may soon find out.

A campaign called Stop The Trap has been launched by The Council of Canadians and Open Media to spread awareness about what the TPP would mean to Canadians, and to try to stop it. The group said in a statement that by Canada agreeing to the parameters of the TPP so far, it would "force service providers to collect and hand over your private data without safeguards, and give media conglomerates more power to send you fines in the mail, remove online content — including entire websites — and even terminate your access to the Internet," the Huffington Post Canada reports.

[ Related: Bill C-11 passes Commons, allowing for U.S.-style copyright law ]

Canadians learned last week that for the first time, Canada was extended an invitation to join in the Trans-Pacific trade talks. The talks have been touted as a positive step by Prime Minister Harper, who characterized the move as "a further example of our determination to diversify our exports and to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadian families," in a Reuters story.

But many Canadians were concerned that the deal between Canada and the other participating countries — including Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, Vietnam and newly-invited Mexico — would force Canada to cancel the restrictions on imports of farm goods, a move which some are saying could hurt both farmers and consumers.

Now, this new campaign seeks to inform Canadians about the potential impact the TPP could have on Internet usage and digital media, too. While the details of the bill aren't yet finalized, a draft leaked last year suggests that harsher intellectual property laws could be coming to Canadians, far stricter than those to be implemented with Bill C-11.

Here's a quick summary of what the TPP might mean for digital media legislation from Info Justice versus what the current legislation or what Bill C-11 would introduce:

Current Laws/Bill C-11 Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
  • Copyright lasts author's life + 50 years
  • Copyright lasts authors life + 70 years
  • Copyright for sound recordings is 50 years after first recording
  • Copyright for sound recordings is 95 years after first recording
  • Restrictions on technological protection measures (like digital locks) but new exceptions can be identified
  • No mechanism for new exceptions to technological protection measures, increased penalties for circumventing those measures
  • Service provider must retain records of individuals who have been notified of violations
  • Service providers must retain records, plus the records must be turned over to copyright holders, which may include personal information
  • A notice-and-notice system is used for infringement
  • A notice-and-takedown system is used for infringement
  • Distinguishes between commercial and personal-use violations of copyright infringement
  • No distinction between personal use and commercial use

To enter into the agreement, Canada had to agree to all chapters currently decided upon by the existing members of the TPP.

"The fact is that a substantial amount of this agreement apparently has already been negotiated, and Canada is not going to have a choice but either to accept it or reject it," said former Prime Minister Paul Martin on CTV, The Vancouver Sun reports.

Check back regularly at The Right Click for updates on how the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement will impact the Canadian digital media landscape.