New copyright legislation could be introduced in Canada within the next few weeks, an Industry Canada spokeswoman said.

The new legislation, which is likely to make it illegal to download or share songs on the internetwithout paying a fee, was promised in the Conservative government's fall throne speech.

"Canada's Copyright Act needs to be reformed to respond to the challenges of the digital age,"said Caroline Grondin, an Industry Canada spokeswoman, in a report by Reuters news service.

"New protections proposed for the benefit of rights holders will seek to address online infringement as well as create a legal framework that encourages the rollout, by rights holders, of new business models."

Grondin'sremarksappear to indicate a lawis coming that would meet the demands of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), which has called for tougher laws to make it easier to prosecute people forfile-sharing.

Courts in Canada have made rulings that have made it difficult toprosecute individuals over file-sharing.

Copyright legislation needs to be updated to protect musicians and songwriters, said Graham Henderson, president of CRIA.

But the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, whose members include Sarah McLachlan, Sam Roberts and Avril Lavigne, has said it would not like to see a law that would lead to lawsuits against music fans.

The CMCC says it like to see legislation that recognizes the importance of file-sharing as a way to spread the word about Canadian music.

It has called for a "made-in-Canada" solution that recognizes current technological and music business realities.

Canada is under pressure from the international recording industry to update its copyright laws.

Canada signed World Intellectual Property Organizationtreaties dealing with copyright protection in the digital age in 1997 but never ratified them.

Copyright law has been under review ever since, but legislation, including a copyright reform bill introduced by the previous Liberal government,has yet to be passed.