Author Archives: Ken Clark

Ken is a Certified Specialist in Copyright, Patents and Trademarks by the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario). He is a former sysadmin and has a basic knowledge of the internet.

Canada’s Anti-Piracy Laws Prompting Positive Change

New Notice-and-Notice Regime in the Canadian Context

In 2012, the Government of Canada enacted several new copyright laws aimed at fighting copyright piracy.  A key change was the “notice-and-notice” system, which formally came into force in January 2015 through amendments to the Copyright Act.

The Government designed the notice-and-notice system to discourage online copyright infringement.  The relevant provisions now present in the Copyright Act require Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) to take action upon receiving notification of alleged copyright infringement from a copyright owner.  Upon receiving such a notice, ISPs are required forward the notice to users whose IP address  has been identified as the source of the alleged infringement. The system also imposes specific requirements for the contents of notices and record keeping.

Since the notice-and-notice system came into force in January 2015, it has been reported that piracy rates among Canadians have actually dropped. While some critics have remained stubbornly reticent to accept the new system, evidence continues to gather in support of its efficacy.

University of Manitoba Students Received 6000+ Notices

A recent story reported by Canada’s national news broadcaster, the CBC, is a perfect example.  Thousands of students at the University of Manitoba received copyright infringement notices forwarded from copyright owners.  The notices related to piracy of textbooks, television shows, music and movies. The University of Manitoba forwarded over 6,000 notices.

This number not only reveals an alarming trend pervasive on Canadian university campuses, it is also indicative of a broader trend in Canadian culture. One prominent copyright enforcement company reported that it sent more than 6 million notices just last year.

These numbers demonstrate that casual copyright piracy has become commonplace and copyright users have become numb to the consequences.  At the same time, the negative effects of widespread piracy are not only felt by individual copyright owners, but by creative industries as a whole.  This year the Government of Canada published the results of a questionnaire conducted as part of  nationwide consultation on “Canadian Content in the Digital Age”.  Responses indicated that most stakeholders considered “creator remuneration” to be the most urgent challenge facing Canadian media industries today.  Likewise, most considered “consumer expectations of free/low cost content” to be the most urgent barrier to Canadian media industries’ success in the future.

As situations such as that reported at the University of Manitoba continue to come to light, it becomes increasingly clear that the notice-and-notice system is prompting positive change.  The system is potentially disrupting the culture of casual copyright piracy that has developed in Canada in the digital age by bringing the problem into the public discourse.  Rights holders not only finally have an new tool to enforce their rights, but more importantly they now have the ability to remind consumers that illegal downloading is, in fact, illegal.