New Canadian Copyright Law: $500 Fine for Downloading a Song

New Canadian Copyright Law: $500 Fine for Downloading a Song
Industry Minister Jim Prentice is set to table a bill in the house of commons this afternoon (June 4 2008) that will allow users to be fined up to $500 for each "personal use download” that they partake in through peer-to-peer file-sharing.

Other fun features of the bill include making it illegal to unlock cellphones, copy music-protected CDs to iPods, and copy time-shifted TV shows to PVRs.

Michael Geist, an Ottawa based internet policy commentator, is calling it a "open invitation” for crippling U.S.A.-style lawsuits, the most famous of which had a single mother from Minnesota receive a $222,000 fine for 24 cases of copyright infringement. If a record label tries to sue for you 100 downloads, a modest music library by any standard, it seems you could be on the hook for $50,000.

The logic behind fining someone $500 for stealing something that costs 99 cents seems a little dubious at best, and you can bet it came from long meetings between Prentice and representatives from the U.S. entertainment conglomerates, who have been clamouring for stricter copyright laws here for years.

It’s unclear just yet how exactly these laws are going to be enforced — is the government going to monitor and fine you? — but the thinking seems to be that we’re in danger of falling into the the U.S. model, where massive entertainment companies sue luckless college students for all they’re worth. Stay tuned for more info.