You're about to become a copyright criminal

Have a look at the Conservatives' bill. Can you spot every way you could be in trouble?

The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld

If you’re a student, or if you consume a lot of music, movies and TV, or if you do fun stuff on the Internet, there’s a rather good chance the Conservatives’ Copyright Reform Bill will make you a criminal.

How? In plenty of ways. Here are a few:

  • Your professor assigns you a digital course pack. It contains excerpts of copyrighted material, but because you’re using it for education, you get a pass. At least, that is, as long as you delete those files within 30 days of the end of class. If you keep them around to use for reference in your honours thesis, or if a stray copy makes its way onto your phone and you forget to erase it, then you’ve broken the law.
  • You transfer your CD collection to your iPod. Two years later, you get a new iPod, and give the old one to your little sister. If you neglect to destroy your CD collection first, you’ve become a criminal.
  • Just for giggles, you mash up some Thomas the Tank engine video clips with a Biggie Smalls song. You post the mashup to your blog, it goes mini-viral, and you make ten bucks and a few cents from Google AdWords hits. You’re now a commercial copyright infringer.

And that’s just for starters. There are many other harmless things millions of Canadians do in the privacy of their homes that will soon constitute copyright infringement. I’ll be back soon with a few more.

For now, here’s the bill. Have a read, and see if you can add one or two potential criminal scenarios of your own in the comments.

Jesse Brown is the host of’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown

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