Canadian Appeals Court Rules That ISPs Don't Have To Pay Copyright Levy

from the not-everyone-is-a-criminal dept

Up in Canada, it seems that there’s a constant push to expand copyright levies (the “you must be a criminal tax”) to nearly everything from iPods to ISPs, despite the fact that many people recognize what a joke the levies have become. After failing to get it expanded to cover iPods, supporters of the levy pushed for ISPs to have to pay the levy, because people using their internet connection might possibly access content. Thankfully, a Canadian appeals court pointed out that access to broadcasts of content is not the same thing as broadcasting it and rejected adding the “you must be a criminal” tax to internet access.

Of course, there is one rather interesting part of the ruling, which is that the court notes that one of the reasons for this ruling is that ISPs are effectively “content neutral.” If they were to stop that (i.e., and break net neutrality concepts), they could open themselves up to having this tax come back:

In providing access to “broadcasting”, ISPs do not transmit programs. As such, they are not “broadcasting” and therefore they do not come within the definition of “broadcasting undertaking”. In so holding, I wish to reiterate as was done in CAIP that this conclusion is based on the content-neutral role of ISPs and would have to be reassessed if this role should change

This is notable because, as in the US, there has been talk among ISPs of breaking basic net neutrality concepts. Perhaps this ruling will get them to think twice.

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Comments on “Canadian Appeals Court Rules That ISPs Don't Have To Pay Copyright Levy”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t get those levy’s they are just nonsense, why should people have to pay for the possibility of others breaking the law?

Why are people accepting those levy’s without questioning them?

I would like to see a Jigyo-shiwake in the U.S. and see live how people explain those things to everyone and of course the Canadians should demand that too, I want to see they justify that in public to all to see.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

These stupid levys have been around since the days of cheap cassette tapes when Canadian “artists”, a curiously unique and uniquely unique entitled bunch at that, became afraid that someone might tape a LP and pass it to a friend. It was something like a nickle a tape and it’s still there.

Then came CD recorders and players and the uproar became louder to the point where blank media is about 70% levy. The rest going back into a pool that some outfit like CAPAC gets and distributes back, allegedly, to the artist. (See: BMI, ASCAP.) Just to make things more urgent at the time the branch organizations of the **AAs got into the act and assured the same treadment for DVDs as CDs.

It’s not like CanCon regulations that came into effect on radio and television (regularly ignored on commercial networks) that the Canadian music and recording industry has grown and flourished to where it can compete with anyone, anywhere, any time. In English or French.

Still, the bureaucrats and money collectors and (alleged) distributors want more which led to ISPs.

Sound familiar? 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

absolutely nothing surprising in this ruling at all. as long as isps provide only pipe, they are safe. however, as they get into selling access to specific content (and making it available, storing it, etc) they risk crossing that line.

more than anything, it shows that you cannot have full net neutrality and unique customer offerings at the same time, either these companies are dumb pipe providers, or they are integrated media sellers. true net neutrality would require them to stop offering anything other than pipe.

Jimr (profile) says:

It is better that everyone pay a very small amount (levy) than a few individual sued or forced into bankruptcy to defend themselves from copyright allegations.

I would happily pay a fee per medium to stave off fighting a expensive legal challenge for myself or others. It is much like a massive Canada-wide insurance policy. With out I might be in the stupid US system that even though I do not infringe I still may have to fight an allegation or pay a huge fee to settle out of court.

Getting back to the ruling it does make Sense to me. The ISPs are just the carries of material. Does the post office have to pay a copyright fee if it delivers copyright material? Would a phone company have to pay a fee if in the back ground of your phone call a copyrighted music played? Overall a good wording by the judge to refer to the ISPs as effectively “content neutral.”

Jay (profile) says:

Re: That has still failed

If this small “levy” actually worked, the RIAA along with ASCAP and the other collection companies would be able to stop lobbying to Congress for stricter enforcement.

As it stands, even in the US, with our levy, people continue to be sued as the revenue from CDs goes down.

I’ve never been a fan of a levy, simply because it perverts the issue of the cause of higher prices.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: That has still failed

Actually what it does is make people who are buying *other* (possibly vaguely related) things also pay the RIAA. It’s much worse than higher prices. If, for instance you are trying to boycott the RIAA because for whatever reason you might disagree with their practices, you would have to stop using the Internet (and probably a bunch of other non-RIAA products) at all to avoid supporting them.

Still, it is the lesser evil compared to a DMCA if you ask me.

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