Saturday, February 27, 2010

Canadian implementation of copyright treaties

I posted recently on the possibility that ACTA could prolong the process of Canadian copyright reform, and about the average period of time, historically, that it has taken to reform Canadian copyright law. If we look at specific examples of efforts, on the part of Canada, to implement international copyright treaties, there are a few examples:

The Berne Convention, first implementation: 38 years

Canada was signed on to the original Berne Convention, which is still the cornerstone international copyright treaty today, by the British in 1886. However, it took Canada 38 years to implement the Berne Convention. After being brought on board by the British Imperial government, Canada decided the Berne Convention didn't fit in the North American context. It was viewed as a European treaty; the Americans weren't part of it. It therefore wasn't until 1924 that Canada finally implemented what by then was the 1908 revision of the Berne Convention.

The 1928 revision of the Berne Convention: 3 years.
Canada implemented the 1928 revision of the Berne Convention in short order, in 1931, granting moral rights and broadcast rights in copyright works.

The 1952 Universal Copyright Convention: 10 years.
Canada took 10 years to ratify the Universal Copyright Convention, which it did in 1962. It took 10 years because Canada couldn't decide whether or how to change Canadian law in order to implement the convention. After waffling about for 10 years on a possible copyright overhaul, Canada decided that no change to the actual law was necessary in order to meet the standards of the UCC, so that made the process, in the end, relatively quick.

The 1971 Revision of the Berne Convention: 22 years.
Canada implemented the 1971 (current) revision of the Berne Convention (which it had not originally signed) in 1993 in order to comply with NAFTA. Canada then formally acceded to the convention in 1998.

On average, that's 18 years. Implementation takes place more quickly if either no reform to domestic law is required or if the changes required are relatively uncontroversial. If however, the changes required are controversial, or if a significant overhaul of the copyright act is contemplated - as in the current case of contemplated copyright reform - implementation in Canada can take much longer.

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