There will be no new books, songs or plays added to the public domain in Canada until 2043 after the government squeezed in a change to copyright laws just before the end of 2022.
Until Dec. 30, copyright protection applied to literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works for the life of their author plus another 50 years.
But as of that date, an artistic work won’t join the public domain for the life of the author plus another 70 years.
The change brings Canada into compliance with a commitment it made under the new North American free trade deal to match its copyright protections with those in place in the United States since 1998. That deal gave Canada until Dec. 31, 2022, to fall in line and it beat the deadline by one day.
In a statement from the office of Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, the government said the change also puts Canada in line with many other countries, including those in Europe, the United Kingdom and Australia.
“Canada will continue to do its part to protect the interests of artists, creators and rights holders, while continuing to balance the needs of industry,” the statement said.
Public domain use means works can be republished or repurposed without seeking permission or paying a rights holder for the use of the work.
It’s what has allowed, for example, numerous adaptations, reprints, prequels and sequels for “Anne of Green Gables,” which joined the public domain in the United States in 1983 and in Canada in 1992.
Public domain also allows libraries, museums and archives to use works freely for research and historical purposes, including posting online archives of the important papers of politicians and world leaders.
Any remaining copyright on writings to or by former prime minister Lester B. Pearson would have been lifted on Jan. 1, under the old law because he died in 1972. Now that won’t happen until 2043.
It is not retroactive, but applies to any author, composer or screenwriter whose works would have been added to the public domain between now and 2043, meaning for 20 years nothing new will be added to the public domain in Canada.
That period affects novels by Canadian authors such as Margaret Laurence and Gabrielle Roy, but also international writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Roald Dahl.
Writer associations have generally been in favour of the changes, saying the more assurance creators have to get paid for their work, the more incentive there is to create.
Academics, librarians, archivists and museums, however, argue that it limits their ability to access and use hundreds of works, most of which no longer have any commercial value.
“The reality is that the vast majority of works that enter into the public domain have very little, typically no commercial value anymore,” said Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa.
“And that’s one of the reasons why many others are really troubled by this extension, because so many of the works may have historical cultural value, but don’t have commercial value anymore.”
Geist also disputes the notion the 50 year post-death time frame was stifling creation.
“No one is thinking of writing the great novel right now and might have hesitated for the last number of years because they’re heirs only got 50 years and they wake up this morning and think ‘now I’m really going to do it because there’s that extra 20 years of protection after I’ve died,”‘ he said. “People just don’t think that way.”
He said the extra protection has a commercial benefit for a small number of people, and that could have been addressed with an opt-in clause, so rights holders of works that do still have commercial value could ask for an extension.
He also said it extends the limits on access or use of what are known as orphan works, those which the rights holder is not easily reached.
Geist also accused the government of burying the change, by putting it near the bottom of a nearly 450-page budget bill last spring. The government didn’t highlight the copyright act changes in any of its documents about that bill.
There was also no government announcement when cabinet decided in November to set the in effect date to Dec. 30, or when it did take effect. In all, the government issued 3,998 news releases in 2022 and not one of them was about the changes to copyright law.
“A lot of people are just literally waking up over the last couple of days to this issue and are shocked to learn this is something Canada went ahead and did, because it got so little coverage and attention,” Geist said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 2, 2023.
B.C. to install earthquake warning sensors to give life-saving notice
Up to 50 earthquake early warning sensors are being installed around British Columbia as part of a larger plan to protect people and infrastructure in a big quake.
The sensors will be connected to the national Earthquake Early Warning system that’s expected to be in operation by 2024.
A joint federal and provincial government announcement today says the sensors will give seconds, or perhaps tens of seconds, of warning before the strongest shaking arrives, helping to reduce injuries, deaths and property loss.
Bowinn Ma, B.C.’s minister of emergency management, says in a statement that an early warning system is critical to helping those in the province mitigate the impacts of a seismic event.
When the full system is operational next year, more than 10 million Canadians living in the most earthquake-prone areas of the country will get early warning alerts, giving them precious seconds to take cover.
There are over 5,000 earthquakes in Canada every year, most of them along B.C.’s coast, although about 20 per cent of the quakes are along the St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River valleys.
On Jan. 26, 1700, a magnitude-9 megathrust earthquake hit North America’s west coast, creating a tsunami that carried across the Pacific Ocean and slammed into Japan.
The statement says if a similar quake happens when the early warning system is operating, it could give up to four minutes’ warning before the strongest shaking starts in coastal B.C. communities.
It says the system could also be used to automatically trigger trains to slow down, stop traffic from driving over bridges or into tunnels, divert air traffic, automatically close gas valves, and open firehall and ambulance bay doors.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.
This is a corrected story. A previous version said the earthquake warning system is expected to be operational in 2023. In fact, it is expected to be operational in 2024.
Renters in Canada are facing the toughest market since 2001: CMHC report – Global News
Renters in Canada are facing the toughest market in decades with low vacancies, higher prices and surging demand, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
The housing agency released its annual rental market report Thursday, which showed that the national vacancy rate for purpose-built rental apartments declined to 1.9 per cent last year — the lowest level since 2001.
Meanwhile, the demand for rentals outstripped supply due to higher net migration, the return of students to on-campus learning and a rise in homeownership costs.
“Higher mortgage rates, which drove up already-elevated costs of homeownership, made it harder and less attractive for renters to transition to homeownership,” CMHC said in a statement.
CMHC data also showed that the average rent for two-bedroom units that were occupied by a new tenant rose by 18.3 per cent — well above the average rent growth for units without turnover. This made it difficult for Canadians trying to enter the rental market or find new housing to rent, the agency said.
“Lower vacancy rates and rising rents were a common theme across Canada in 2022,” Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist, said in a statement.
“This caused affordability challenges for renters, especially those in the lower income ranges, with very few units in the market available in their price range.”
How will housing market look in the next year?
The average rent for a two-bedroom rental condominium apartment saw a significant increase to $1,930 from $1,771, about nine per cent year over year, according to CMHC.
Canada is also facing a housing crunch with a shortage of both homes and construction workers to build new units.
Another CMHC report released last week found that the annual rate of new home building had slowed by five per cent in December 2022 compared with November.
Last month, in a bid to help tackle skyrocketing rents across the country, the government of Canada opened applications for a one-time top-up as part of the Canada Housing Benefit (CHB) program — an initiative that would put $500 in the pockets of low-income renters.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada sharing Haiti sanctions evidence, in bid to convince UN peers to freeze elites
“We continue to share whatever information we can — with respect to the decisions that we have made — with other countries,” Bob Rae said in an interview.
“Canada still maintains the right to make its own decisions as well, which is what we’re doing.”
Rae visited Haiti last December as part of Canada’s efforts to try forming a political consensus on how western countries should best respond to the country’s cascading political and humanitarian crises.
Violent, feuding gangs have taken over the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince since last summer. A UN report last October said gangs are sexually assaulting women and children, in addition to curtailing access to health care, electricity and clean water.
The gangs have reportedly killed and kidnapped hundreds, while filling a power vacuum in a country led by politicians whose terms have expired. No elections have been held since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country’s unelected prime minister, Ariel Henry, has requested a foreign military intervention, which Washington says Canada ought to lead, though the idea is divisive among Haitians.
Instead, Canada has sought a political consensus in Haiti, and has sanctioned 15 of the country’s political and economic elite, accusing them of emboldening the gangs.
Canada has not publicly shared the evidence upon which it has based those decisions. The length of its Haiti sanctions list is unmatched.
The U.S. sanctioned just four Haitians last year over alleged ties to gangs, in addition to three whom Washington had sanctioned in 2020.
Most countries have opted to follow a United Nations process to identify people affiliated with gangs who should be subject to sanction. It has listed just one person since October — gang federation leader Jimmy Cherizier, known locally as “Barbecue.”
Anyone who ends up on that list will see a nearly global travel and assets ban. But Rae said it is expected that countries will take a long time to agree on who merits such heavy restrictions.
“Canada knew the process at the UN could become a complex one,” he said.
“We thought it was important for us to get ahead of that process, which we fully respect, and look forward to hearing from the experts.”
In an interview with The Canadian Press last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on European governments to follow Canada’s lead and implement their own, unilateral sanctions on Haiti’s elites. That hasn’t happened yet.
In an interview earlier this month, former governor general Michaëlle Jean, who has roots in Haiti, singled France out for doing “nothing at all” on sanctions.
The French embassy in Ottawa deferred to the speech France gave Monday to the UN Security Council, suggesting that the country is sticking with the UN sanctions process.
“France welcomes the establishment of the (sanctions) committee and its panel of experts. We hope that this committee will quickly get to work to make proposals,” senior diplomat Nathalie Broadhurst told the council.
“It is with a sense of great urgency that France calls on the international community to redouble its efforts.”
Rae said sanctions from France would likely have a strong effect. He also noted that the neighbouring Dominican Republic is a haven for Haitian elites, but it lacks laws to sanction individuals.
“We’re having some discussions with the EU and with the French and others. We’re continuing to have as constructive a dialogue as we can,” he said.
“Our experience in Haiti has been that the sanctions have had a strong impact. And obviously, their impact is increased when other countries join in.”
To that end, Rae said Canada has been giving the UN sanctions committee and other countries the evidence that Ottawa has used in its decision-making.
“We’ve been talking to the panel and sharing information, and sharing as much documentation as we can,” said Rae, who said that the evidence can’t be made public.
Unlike other countries such as Britain, which publishes detailed reasons when it places someone on its sanctions list, the Canadian approach is to keep reasons confidential.
Former Haitian prime ministers Laurent Lamothe and Jean-Henry Céant have both demanded that Canada reveal its reasoning, with both denying Ottawa’s claims that they have supported gangs. Lamothe has filed a claim in Federal Court, while Céant asked the UN this week to intervene against Canada.
“We have to deal with this information carefully. It’s important for everybody to know that the law has to be followed carefully,” Rae said.
“None of these decisions are taken lightly, and they’re all taken in the awareness that many people will naturally not be happy about being sanctioned, will be obviously exercising the rights they have under our legal structure.”
In Haiti, the National Network for the Defence of Human Rights has reported that Canada’s sanctions have slightly alleviated the suffering, with gangs loosening their grip on locals’ movements.
“They were ordered to calm down,” director Rosy Auguste Ducena told Radio France International earlier this month in French.
“Those who have not yet been affected by these sanctions have decided to slow down their relations with the armed bandits.”
Yet a former U.S. envoy for Haiti, Dan Foote, has doubts. He resigned in September 2021 over frustration with western policies he witnessed in Haiti, which he argued in his resignation letter “consistently produce catastrophic results.”
“For sanctions to work, those sanctions need to be transparent,” Foote said in an interview.
He added that sanctions can have unintended negative consequences. “There are a few people who would have brought a lot of Haitians to the table who are now under sanctions.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.
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