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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Filed Under: canada, copyright, isps, levy, net neutrality


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  1. icon
    Jimr (profile), 9 Jul 2010 @ 6:48am

    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."

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