Copyright notices can no longer demand payment for alleged piracy
Canadians will no longer be receiving copyright claims demanding money, after a new bill amended the Copyright Act last month.
Nick Kirmse, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Sunday, January 27, 2019 1:50PM EST
Internet service providers no longer have to pass along the millions of notices of alleged copyright infringement that demand payment, according to a new amendment to the Canadian Copyright Act.
The amendments, passed last month as part of Bill C-86, look to close a loophole in the copyright notice system, which saw companies trying to abuse the system to demand payment from Canadians for alleged infringements.
Since Canada’s copyright law was updated in 2015, ISPs have been required to forward notices of alleged copyright infringement to customers from rights holders.
Known as the “notice-and-notice” system, internet providers are required to forward the notification on to the customer, but take no other action besides keeping the notification for six months in case the copyright holder decides to sue.
The system was designed to be a compromise, discouraging piracy without being punitive towards offenders.
"This was designed, really, as an educational measure -- the idea that people would become more aware of the limits of copyright," University of Ottawa law professor and IP expert Michael Geist said of the original purpose of the system in an interview with the Canadian Press last year. "It was never intended to be used to include settlement demands."
But advocates say the system was quickly “exploited,” with some companies apparently issuing demands for payment while claiming that users could face massive liability if they refuse to pay.
These alleged abuses prompted the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, OpenMedia, Geist, and other experts to write an open letter to the government, calling for changes to fix the flawed notice-and-notice system.
According to the new amendments, a notice of claimed infringement shall not contain:
(a) an offer to settle the claimed infringement;
(b) a request or demand, made in relation to the claimed infringement, for payment or for personal information;
(c) a reference, including by way of hyperlink, to such an offer, request or demand; and
(d) any other information that may be prescribed by regulation.
Under the new rules, any notices that contain such information do not have to be passed along by internet providers.
But the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, a group made up of six of the country’s largest internet providers, says that the rules don’t go far enough. The group says the rules fail to provide a strong deterrent to stop rights holders from including demands in their notices.
“The onus for excluding settlement demands from copyright notices must rest solely with rights owners,” the group said in a Dec. 10 statement.
The group suggests that the government adopt regulations to establish a standard notice for claimed infringement, preventing rights holders from trying to slip notices with demands through the automated systems that service providers use to send the millions of copyright notices they receive each month.
“Mandating the use of these standards will eliminate the risk of ISPs forwarding non-compliant notices,” they said.