Canadian downloaders should expect a copyright notice in the mail


Have you recently downloaded a song, or a movie, or a TV show, from a site or service that didn’t ask for money, and may or may not have been of dubious legality? You might be getting a notice in your inbox.

Millions of Canadians could receive copyright infringement notices in the coming days as Canadian anti-piracy firm Canipre announced on January 5 it would send out those notices on behalf of rights holders.

The company says it is taking advantage of a new provision under Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act, the “notice and notice” program, that came into effect on Jan 1.

Under this provision, rights holders can notify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) of alleged copyright infringements. The ISP in turn is required to forward the notice on to the suspect subscriber and inform the rights holder the notice has been delivered.

Canipre says it has collected several millions Canadian IP addresses that were allegedly involved in copyright infringement during the past 60 days according to its managing director, Barry Logan. His firm is now in the process of sending notices to the IPs addresses linked to the alleged infringement.

But receiving a notice of alleged copyright infringement doesn’t mean the subscriber is liable for any damages.

“The liability under Canadian law is nowhere near in places like the U.S.,” says Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law.

Canadians can be liable for a maximum of $5,000 in damages for non-commercial copyright infringement, for example illegally downloading a film, a song or an app.

“It isn’t the case that they’re immediately liable for anything,” Mr. Geist said about the notice and notice system, pointing out it was also put in place to educate people.

“If the intention is to raise awareness and educate, it seems to work pretty well,” he says.

Rights holders and ISPs have been using the notice and notice system informally for the past 10 years, according to Mr. Geist. The Copyright Modernization Act only legislated the process and added fines for non-compliant ISPs.

“Part of the overall strategy in Canada is to provide a level of education about copyright infringement and its erosion (effect) on Canadian economy,” confirmed Mr. Logan.

Many industries are affected when content is stolen or illegally reproduced said Logan, and in the end it affects the revenue that could be made by the rights holder.

“If we all went to the local supermarket and stole a grape, pretty soon there would be no grapes,” said Mr. Logan. “But it’s only one little grape right?” he asked rhetorically.

While he wouldn’t name Canipre’s clients, Mr. Logan said they were major brands from the film, music, video game, software and even e-book publishing industry.

Rights holders have to be named in the copyright infringement notice, so anyone who gets a notice will know who is accusing them.

Mr. Logan said it was up to his clients to decide whether or not to sue individuals once the notices were sent.

Importantly, the notice-and-notice system doesn’t give rights holders the identity of the alleged infringers, and is separate from any legal action to seek damages.

“The content owner still has to ask the ISP the identity of the anonymous Internet users,” explained David Fewer, director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC).

“In most cases, the ISP are not going to provide that information or are going to require the content owner to go to court to obtain an order,” he said. In that event, the notice and notice system requires ISPs to keep the record identifying the subscriber named in the notice for six months.

In 2012, American film studio Voltage Pictures went to court to force Canadian ISP Teksavvy to hand over customer information.

While the federal judge sided with Voltage Pictures, it also put a number of conditions in place, including that the American studio had to pay Teksavvy the “reasonable administrative costs” incurred by the operation.

When Teksavvy handed out Voltage Pictures a $346,480.68 bill, the studio went back to court, hoping to reduce it.

“If the court sides with Teksavvy, Voltage is probably not going to pay that and the case is going to die,” said Mr. Fewer.


Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

10 comments

  • Bud Tugley

    As the Dalhousie dental students have learned, ANYTHING you put on the internet is now permanently accessible to millions. Good luck trying to collect money. The entire sales model for music, movies, TV, etc. has been disrupted.

    There is no stuffing this genie back in the bottle, notice letters notwithstanding­.

  • Jeffreyt

    It costs around 2-3 thousand dollars just to issue a statement of claim in court ($300-$500 hr for a lawyer fees). If liability is set to a max of $5000 it’s doubtful much will come of the threat of suing. If I got the notice, i’d file it away and call the companies’ bluff. It’s a big old straw man.

  • Anne Nonymous

    “If we all went to the local supermarket and stole a grape, pretty soon there would be no grapes,”

    Ok, analogy time.

    I purchase a grape, I own it. Nobody can tell me how/when/if I can use it. I can re-sell it, I can eat it, do whatever I want with it, it’s mine.

    I purchase a song.

    The Digital-Restric­tions-Managemen­t says:

    -I can only play it on an approved device
    -I can only make an approved number of copies, on approved devices
    -I can not sell it to anyone, I am stuck with it

    Or, how about:

    I purchase a car, but:

    The car will only let me drive on approved roads.
    The car will only let me drive on approved days
    The car will report my driving habbits to anyone who asks
    The car will not allow itself to be driven by other drivers
    The car will report what I put into it, to anyone who asks
    The car will not allow me to rent the car, sell the car to anyone else
    The car will randomly accuse me of being a theif, and call the police. Only after repurchasing the car, will I be allowed to drive it.

    This is the future we are looking at, all of us being perpetual renters, renting everything, at the whim of corporations.

    I hope everyone made their clothing payments on time, and is wearing today’s approved combination.

    Have fun!

  • Nathan W

    I assume that customers of Bell, Rogers, Teksavvy and others will all receive equal attention under these rules. Because any preferential targeting of customers of one firm would be evidence of corruption on the grandest scale.

    Some information on legitimate use would he helpful. For example, if you’re doing a research project, like, one that you’re actually doing that involves cultural content, then this could easily fall under academic uses.

    I produce content, both musical and written. It is more important to me that people can access content first, and that I can get paid for it somehow second. What goes part and parcel with the legal controls is not worth it.

  • PGTL5

    It’s not a notice but a threat. And a lot of people who don’t know better have been scared into paying the fine. Simply ignore and then delete any email you receive.

  • Avatar22

    Sadly, I feel like in Canada our access to media has gotten smaller, not larger. Local video stores have closed, leaving on-demand services as the only game in town. Yet what they have on offer is spotty at best. Even mainstream big Hollywood movies are often not available to download legally, and in some cases you have to pay exorbitant monthly subscription fees just to have the right to download a specific movie, which nobody is going to do. I have pirated movies occasionally in the past few years, but the honest truth is that I didn’t do it to save money. On the contrary, I first checked if it was available to watch legally and I would have happily paid the $6 or $8 rental fee or whatnot. But when it was not available, yes I pirated.

  • Anne Nonymous

    Indeed, pay the 0.99 for the song. Then pay another 0.99 for the other copy for your car. Then pay 0.99 again for the copy on your phone. Then, pay again if someone not “authorized” listens to it.

    The current model works like this. You purchase a car, but you need to purchase a different unique seat, for every person who didn’t compensate the car manufacturer, that has ever sat in your car.

  • Wisdon

    it’s time these companies look at working to provide affordable and accessible content, as they’ll never win the game against people who download etc.

    As soon as these corporations lock down any means of downloading these extremely tech savvy downloaders will find new ways to obtain their content.

    Time to wake up corporations as your current model is not working!!!

  • Anne Nonymous

    Do you have an ad blocker on your browser? You are a dirty pirate and should be fined!

    Do you invite friends to watch rented movies? You are a dirty pirate and should be fined!

    Do you other people to listen to your legal mp3s? You are a dirty pirate and should be fined!

    Do you turn down the volume on commercials? You are a dirty thief and should be fined!

    Do you record programs on your VCR? You are a dirty thief and should be fined!

    Do you make compilation CD’s for your car, or backup your media? You are a dirty thief and should be fined!

    Why pay for something, when you can pay for it again, and again and again!

    Renting your media is the way to go!

    Remember, you don’t “own” anything anymore, you just rent it, and the content owners can do with you as they please.

    Now bend over , open your wallet, and remember to say thank you!

  • Anne Nonymous

    -Purchase Blue-Ray, 30.00

    1. -Insert disc into player
    -Download firmware update for player
    -Insert disc into player
    -Download new encryption keys to play that disc
    -Insert disc into player
    -Watch commerical
    -Try to skip commercials
    -Watch more commercials
    -Watch more commercials
    -Watch more commercials
    -Download another firmware update.
    -Goto Step 1

    2. Download H264 video
    3. Play on any device
    4. No commercials
    5. No firmware updates
    6. No fees!

    Tell me which is the better deal again? Oh right, #1. Especially since I am charged for all the bandwidth for all those %^#$^ updates.

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