Government’s New Copyright Bill Censors and Compromises Canadian Documentary Industry

December 13, 2011

Government’s New Copyright Bill Censors and Compromises Canadian Documentary Industry

If Bill C-11 is passed without amendments, Canadian documentary filmmakers will be prohibited from exercising their right to criticize and comment on content protected by technological protection mechanisms (TPMs), including books, films, television and music.

The Documentary Organization of Canada/l’Association des documentaristes du Canada (DOC) is extremely disappointed that Bill C-11 contains restrictive provisions that forbid documentary filmmakers from circumventing TPMs in order to access content. As currently drafted, the law will prevent documentary filmmakers from exercising their Fair Dealing rights to criticize and comment on TPM-protected content, without breaking the law at the same time.

As the legislative committee on Bill C-11 convenes, DOC asks the Canadian government to look south at the exemptions granted to American documentary producers. These producers effectively demonstrated how the law hamstrung their ability to do their job.

In 2010, the U.S. Copyright Office granted an exemption for documentary filmmakers to allow for the circumvention of TPMs on DVDs for the purposes of criticism and commentary. Presently, American documentary filmmakers are appealing to extend this exemption to all digital video media. Canadian documentary filmmakers should be afforded the same exemption, or suffer a competitive disadvantage.

“The Copyright Act provides documentary filmmakers the right to use copyrighted content for the purpose of criticism or commentary, but this bill throws up a legal barrier to access the media we need to exercise that right. Right now, C-11 is a legal rabbit hole for artists. We’re asking the Government to follow the American lead, and address this contradiction before the bill is passed — anything else will place us at a competitive disadvantage with the U.S.” says Chair Katie McKenna.

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About DOC
The Documentary Organization of Canada / l’Association des documentaristes du Canada(DOC) is the collective voice of independent documentary filmmakers across Canada. It is a member-driven organization dedicated to promoting, supporting and developing the art form of documentary filmmaking. As a national non-profit association it advocates on behalf of its members to foster an environment conducive to documentary production and strives to strengthen the sector within the broader film production industry.

Lisa Fitzgibbons, DOC Executive Director
(416) 599-3844 ext. 1

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