The Entertainment Software Association of Canada is calling for tougher copyright laws in the country, including jail time for pirates and the criminalization of mod chips.

Canada is the third-largest videogame developer in the world, behind only the U.S. and Japan, ESAC Executive Director Danielle Parr told a handful of MPs at an industry lobbying event in Ottawa. But that success has to be protected with stronger copyright laws, she added, saying, “At the federal level, the primary issue for us… is the protection of intellectual property.”

A bill modeled after the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the U.S. was introduced in Canada last year but died before it could be passed when the government called an election. Grassroots resistance to the bill was strong, with critics claiming it was overly restrictive and would leave individual citizens exposed to huge fines. Nonetheless, Parr called for similar legislation to be introduced “as soon as possible.”

Among the changes called for by the ESAC is the right for the Canada Border Services Agency – what used to be called Customs – to seize goods they know to be pirated, something they cannot currently do without a court order, as well as stronger penalties, including jail time, for intellectual property crime and the outlawing of mod chips. “In Canada, these [mod chip] devices are not illegal,” she said. “They’re illegal in virtually every other country.”

Edmonton Member of Parliament Mike Lake, whose constituency includes famed developer BioWare, said the government was planning to introduce a new copyright law but wouldn’t specify when, saying only, “It should happen in this Parliament.” He added that the bill was a “priority” for the government and said it would benefit not just the game industry but also the music, movie and television industries as well.



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