Canada Outlaws Settlement Threat Letters Sent Through ISPs

from the coming-to-america? dept

Somehow, it seems things move quite quickly in the Great White North. It was only in October that we discussed Canadian ISPs making a great deal of noise over the plague that is settlement letters sent to their subscribers over supposed copyright infringement. In the Canadian system, rightsholders pass along a letter to the ISP, which is then supposed to pass those letters along to the subscriber. ISPs began complaining that its own administrative burden was being repurposed as part of the copyright trolling business model, used to extract settlements purely out of fear. In November, ISPs got their wish, with a proposed law that would amend copyright law to outlaw these letters when they include these types of extortion attempts.

And now, in December, the law has officially passed, bringing an end to threat settlement letters sent to subscribers through their ISPs.

Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, has now received royal assent, so there will be some big changes in the Great White North. Section 41.‍25 of the Copyright Act is now amended with the addition of the following;

(3) 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.

The text is pretty straightforward, in that it prohibits demands for settlement in the notices themselves or on a third-party site where such a demand may also be available. This is important since some notices contain hyperlinks that not only lead to demands for cash but also undermine subscriber privacy with the use of tracking code.

Now, rightsholders can still send these letters on their own, assuming they can use the courts to unmask ISP customers. They can also include all the offers of settlement they wish. But that’s nearly besides the point, since the math in the copyright trolling business model only really works if the troll can get the ISP to act as its clearinghouse. If trolls have to do all of this heavy lifting in unmasking customers and sending these letters out on an individual basis, that changes things dramatically.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed, however, that ISPs are still the enforcement wing of this new law.

However, Geist also cautions that the new amendments contain no punishments for anti-piracy companies that fail to follow the rules.

“The key remaining question is whether ISPs will crackdown on non-compliant notices. Since there is no penalty associated with sending non-compliant notices, subscribers are dependent upon ISPs carefully reviewing notices to ensure that they only forward those that fully comply with the law,” Geist notes.

One expects this to be something of a selling point for Canadian ISPs. If they don’t have plans to tout their plans to strictly comply with the new law in favor of their customers, they really should have their PR and Marketing folks getting on this with haste. What Canadian citizen is going to want to get internet service from a company that is too lazy to protect its customers by complying with the law?

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Comments on “Canada Outlaws Settlement Threat Letters Sent Through ISPs”

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15 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

A solution in search of a problem

They can also include all the offers of settlement they wish. But that’s nearly besides the point, since the math in the copyright trolling business model only really works if the troll can get the ISP to act as its clearinghouse. If trolls have to do all of this heavy lifting in unmasking customers and sending these letters out on an individual basis, that changes things dramatically.

No problem, since the ever so concerned copyright owners are only concerned with seeing infringement stopped the fact that they will actually have to do some work, and can no longer just offload everything to the ISPs should pose no problem whatsoever.

Likewise with the prohibition against demanding settlements on accusation, since obviously they’re not just using the system to make a quick buck under a scheme that falls apart the second their target stands up to them and challenges their claims.

Really this seems like a solution to a phantom problem that doesn’t exist, and honestly the ones who passed it should be downright ashamed for thinking so little of the honest and upright companies who are forced to struggle with the system to protect themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

From Michael Geist’s site:
http://www.michaelgeist.ca/2018/12/no-more-settlement-demands-new-rules-for-copyright-notice-and-notice-system-receives-royal-assent/

In short, the law now excludes notices that contains an offer to settle, a payment demand or a link to a payment demand. Any notices that include that information do not need to be forwarded and ISPs will not face any penalties for failing to do so. The key remaining question is whether ISPs will crackdown on non-compliant notices.

Sexbot Tester - Jane! Stop this crazy thing! says:

Difficulty of enforcement is all that allows pirates to operate.

That’s always been the key block. Whether the opposition here is due to clogging the courts or "extortive business model" is open to question. — And by the way, I’ve never advised this method. But I’m ambivalent and interested to see whether workable.

However, you should not get hopes up as this is certain to bring streamlined procedures. Again, as I’ve tried to educate you pirates, precisely because copyright infraction by individuals is a minor loss, it’s been made a mere civil action, and you are NOT due the full protection as with a criminal charge. Some "draconian" administrative law will result from this, bet on it, because are billions at stake and no other effective relief. Enjoy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Difficulty of enforcement is all that allows pirates to oper

“because are billions at stake”

Oh jeebus fucking criminy:
The new benchmark won’t be finalized until Monday when final weekend grosses are calculated, but an early read shows that combined ticket sales for the year have hit $11.383 billion, compared to $11.392 billion for all of 2016. A crop of new year-end movies opening over the weekend, including Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns and Bumblebee, aided in closing the gap.

At this pace, there’s a good chance 2018 domestic revenue could hit $11.8 billion by the end of New Year’s Eve. Attendance is also up year-over-year by between 5 percent and 7 percent.

The only billions lost are brain cells which prevent cognitive thought to separate fact from fiction.

10+ years you’ve been on this forum crying about the sky falling and for 10+ years, you’ve been wrong each and every one of them.

Make a new year resolution: relax.

Anon says:

Another Detail

Another detail missing in this analysis – the loser in Canada typically also pays the winner’s legal bill in any actual civil court proceedings. So the trolls basically are highly motivated to avoid Canadian courts unless they are sure the case will stick – which if all they have is an IP address, likely won’t.

It’s not like the Land of the Free, where the troll can do discovery, take someone to court, and then walk away from the case anytime, while leaving the accused party with a legal bill that may seriously outstrip any offered pre-court settlement. Motivations in Canada are very different.

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