This chapter outlines a period of relative distance between Canada and the Berne Union. Between the 1940s and 1960s the wheels of Canadian copyright reform had grown rusty. Canada’s 1924 Copyright Act had now been in place for over forty years, and its last revision had taken place in 1938. During this period of legislative inactivity, a policy shift occurred. Canada did not ratify the 1948 revision of the Berne Convention and moved, instead, to join a new international copyright treaty: the American-inspired Universal Copyright Convention.
It was not long after Canada entered formally into international copyright relations in 1924 that a conference was called to revise the Berne Convention, and Canadian diplomats for the first time represented their country at the Berne Union directly. Throughout the proceedings, it became apparent that Canada held common interests with other countries like Australia and New Zealand on issues such as broadcasting and performance rights. However, Canadian delegates did not take a prominent position on these issues; their instructions held them to playing only a minor and uncontroversial role. Against the backdrop of Canada’s changing relationship with Britain and the United States in the 1920s and 30s, this chapter outlines the new role of Canada in international copyright relations in the 1920s.
It would not be long before Canada’s course in international copyright would once again change direction. Following World War I, perceptions of Canada and its place in the world shifted; Canada’s participation in the Great War meant that Canada now viewed itself as an independent participant in international affairs, and there were feelings that the rebellious copyright policies of the past might tend to make Canada an “outsider in the general community of nations.”
Britain began now to loosen its grip on the handlebars of Canadian copyright, training wheels securely in place. In 1910 an Imperial Copyright Conference put into place a new copyright arrangement amongst members of the British Empire. First, Britain agreed to rescind its Imperial control over the copyright legislation of the colonies. Second, Britain agreed to find a way around the aspects of the Berne Convention to which Canada objected the most and arranged, in 1914, for an additional protocol to the Berne Convention on behalf of Canada. The 1914 protocol paved the way for Canada, for the first time, to implement the Berne Convention. With the Canadian Copyright Act of 1924 Canada, under Britain, ratified the treaty.
Chapter 3 outlines the conditions of Canadian copyright prior to the establishment of the Berne Convention in 1886. In the nineteenth century copyright in Canada was governed both by Canadian legislation and British Imperial copyright. This chapter shows that in nineteenth-century Canada, alongside the vision of copyright put forth by dominant copyright powers, a counter-hegemonic view of copyright was developing in Canada. However, Canadian politicians were reluctant to confront the difficult political and constitutional issues involved in achieving legislative independence over copyright. The chapter discusses the difficulties posed by the limited legislative and institutional capacity of the Canadian government to confront these issues.
This discussion is set against a backdrop that describes Canada’s relationships with Britain and the United States during this time period and the main Canadian interest groups involved in nineteenth-century Canadian copyright.