Finally Come The Calls In Major Media To Rethink Canada's 'Notice And Notice' Copyright System

from the yes-and-yes dept

To be fair to our neighbors to the north, Canada really tried. Amidst calls to implement something like the “notice and takedown” system for copyright infringement claims that we have in the States, Canada instead did what Canada does and tried to implement a nicer version of this, called “notice and notice.” The idea was that ISPs and service providers, rather than simply taking down content or banning people from the internet over copyright violations, would instead notify users that their behavior had been reported as infringing. More specifically, it allowed copyright holders to pass along these messages, with ISPs acting as the go-between. The theory was that when internet users — or in many cases family members of those internet users, such as parents — learned that potentially infringing activity was occurring, the notifications would cause the behavior to cease.

As our own Karl Bode noted in 2014, this theory was backed by the ISPs, who claimed these notices helped curb a majority of piracy. We also noted in that post that the “notice and notice” system appeared to be preferable to our “notice and takedown” system because it appeared to be a less likely avenue for abuse by copyright holders and trolls. Sadly, that was immediately disproven by Rightscorp, with abuse of the system continuing up to the present. When eighty-year-old women are getting settlement shakedown threats from copyright trolls over video games, the aims of educating the public have clearly been subverted.

And it seems some in the mainstream press are finally waking up to it. The CBC published a post detailing that shakedown story along with a few others, before openly wondering whether this system is working as intended.

The so-called “notice-and-notice” system came into effect at the start of 2015. It requires internet service providers to forward copyright infringement notices to customers suspected of downloading unauthorized content such as movies, TV shows and video games. Internet providers must forward the notices because the accusers can’t, on their own, determine the identities of the people they’re targeting.The notice system was supposed to educate abusers and discourage piracy. But that’s not the main message many Canadians are getting.

CBC News asked the federal government what it’s doing to address concerns about settlement fee demands. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada explained that the notice regime is up for review in late 2017. Spokesman Hans Palmer said the review will allow it to “take stock and consider whether desired policy objectives are being met.”

That’s going to be an awfully hard circle for Palmer’s agency to square, I think, given how often these stories of threat letters are made public. And you can certainly believe that the actual number of these types of shakedowns that occur is a multiple of those that get reported. Laudable though the goals of this Canadian system may have been, in practice it has clearly become just another opportunity for abuse.

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Comments on “Finally Come The Calls In Major Media To Rethink Canada's 'Notice And Notice' Copyright System”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

No, take your time, not like this is important or anything...

CBC News asked the federal government what it’s doing to address concerns about settlement fee demands. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada explained that the notice regime is up for review in late 2017

Meanwhile the parasites will continue to send out their extortion letters, free from worry that they’ll face any sort of punishment for their behavior because after all, ‘Anything goes so long as you claim it’s related to copyright enforcement.’

They may have tried for a ‘softer’ approach, but as always the toothless nature of the law when it comes to abuse of it ensured that it would be abused, and the entirely one-sided penalty structure means that while there is significant financial motivation for the parasites to send out their extortion letters, there’s very little if any motivation for them to show any real restraint beyond thinly disguising their actions as copyright related rather than simple extortion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No, take your time, not like this is important or anything...

I’m not sure what the big deal is.

I just trash the letters as I get them. They carry no weight of law. And the shakedown people don’t actually know who I am. Only the ISPs do. Plus, I’ve learned to download all HBO material from a private tracker, since that is who was “sending” me 90% of the letters. Now I get no letters, because HBO only checks the public trackers.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: No, take your time, not like this is important or anything...

It’s a big deal because while you may know that the trolls don’t likely have enough to take you to court(and based upon your comment you would likely be a lucky hit if they did manage to find you in that it sounds like you do download stuff), many others don’t have that same knowledge.

You may know that they’re basically bluster and empty threats, but most people are going to focus on the threats of thousands of dollars attached to what is likely to look like a credible and legal document talking about how much money they could lose if they take it to court(not to mention the court costs on their own) based upon this rock solid evidence that the troll has and will present, if the person refuses to pay an entirely ‘modest’ sum of money to make the problem go away.

No court, no insane penalties, just one simple payment and the ‘misunderstanding’ is brushed under the rug, never to be mentioned again.

It’s a big deal because it works. Maybe not on the majority, perhaps not enough to get the majority of people to pay up, but more than enough times to be highly profitable for one side, while insanely stressful and potentially damaging to the other.

Anon says:

On the plus side...

If it does go to court – the losers are obliged to pay the legal costs of the winners, typically, in Canada. This means a lot fewer lawsuits, since initiating a lawsuit on flimsy grounds could end up being very expensive. Plus the Canadian system does not ban contingency fees but the bar associations do tend to frown on them.

Paul Clark (profile) says:

Best Strategy is to Ignore the Letters

The best strategy is to ignore the letters. If you do end up in court, the penalty is the real financial loss to the company (what is the profit margin on a music CD) or a fixed amount of not less than $100 and not more than $5000 for all of your previous copyright violations (if the infringement is non-commercial).

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

There is no Good Faith

Anytime we pass a law, or make a contract assuming good faith, one side will try to abuse it. Think of:

– this story above
– copyright law
– tax law
– gov’t power to snoop

The reason is that is is a power/effort mismatch. On one side you’ll have the mass of the population with very limited information and limited incentives to act. The majority will just coast along with the rules in good faith, as expected. On the other side, you have an organized, financially motivated, highly informed agency that will hire teams of lawyers and technologists to spend 50 hours a week to try to skirt around the rules.

Any rules or deals that are made in “good faith” will be like a cheap bicycle lock. It’ll keep the honest ones honest, but won’t last long against the motivated baddies.

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