Bill C-11

Video credit:STROMBO: SOAPBOX: Michael Geist on Bill C-11 – posted by Strombo on YouTube



Copyright is an intimidating subject for almost anyone. It is constantly changing and can cause a headache for students and educators alike. Changes in copyright legislation can affect your ability as an individual to create, share and consume media and many times people don’t even realize when they’re breaking the law.

Bill C-11, or the Copyright Modernization Act, is the most recent reform to Canada’s copyright legislation and was fully brought into effect on January 2, 2015. Until Bill C-11, many things that people were doing every day were considered illegal, such as recording television shows to watch at a later date, also known as time-shifting.

Some of the other major changes brought about by Bill C-11 are:

  • Form-shifting: making back-up copies of purchased media for personal use is allowed.
  • Fair Dealing: fair dealing allows copyrighted materials to be used (in moderation) for specific purposes. Education, satire and parody have now been added to fair dealing, to accompany the previous five: research, private study, news reporting, criticism, and review.
  • The You Tube Exception: the use of copyrighted videos or music in mash-ups or home-videos is permissible so long as it is not for commercial purposes.
  • Illegal downloading: financial penalties for illegal downloading have been increased significantly, and Internet Service Providers are now required to give notice to their clients when illegal downloading has occurred. These letters could then potentially be followed up by legal action.

Think before you ink

What these changes mean:

As Michael Geist says in the video, Canada’s copyright legislation is moving closer and closer to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that exists in the United States, meaning more power is being given to music and movie companies rather than to the consumer. This is particularly evident with regards to Canada’s rules around digital locks.

Digital locks are a type of encryption that is intended to stop unwanted copying. These are often present on media, specifically movies and music. Though all of the updates to copyright law mentioned above were passed with Bill C-11, things such as time-shifting, or the You Tube Exception or Fair Dealing are only allowed, so long as they do not break any digital locks. This means that digital locks trump all other rules, even if you are simply duplicating something, that you have already purchased, for your own personal use i.e.) making a CD of songs you’ve purchased online, or moving a copy of a purchased movie onto your tablet. If these activities break a digital lock, they are not permitted.

Where digital locks really become interesting is in regards to Fair Dealing. If something has a digital lock on it, can it still be used within the classroom for educational purposes? According to Bill C-11, if taken at face value, the answer is no.


The Digital Tattoo Project encourages critical discussion on topics surrounding digital citizenship and online identity. There are no correct answers and every person will view these topics from a different perspective.  Be sure to complete the previous sections before answering the questions.

  • As a digital citizen, how do you see bill C-11 influencing your life?
  • Is copyright something you actively consider when consuming or creating content? 

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