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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 2:00am

    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.

    http://fumijp.blogspot.com/2010/04/jigyo-shiwake-in-japan.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      abc gum, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 4:36am

      Re:

      "Why are people accepting those levy's without questioning them?"

      Apparently someone is questioning them.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      BigKeithO (profile), Jul 9th, 2010 @ 6:24am

      Re:

      I am Canadian and I can tell you that the vast, vast majority don't even know they are paying this levy. I'm sure if people were aware that 90% of the price of their blank media was going to this levy you would see some protests of some sort (that or an increase in "piracy", hey we're paying for it already aren't we?).

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      TtfnJohn (profile), Jul 9th, 2010 @ 9:47am

      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? :)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 3:47am

    This is so backwards. Why isn't the Canadian Government more concerned about taxing all this IP? That's the direction they should be moving in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Liquid (profile), Jul 9th, 2010 @ 4:32am

    Good Decision

    That is about the best statement/ruling since the whole crusade against file shares began back in the late 90's. A court that finally realizes that ISP's are nothing more than gate ways for the masses to access content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 6:44am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Jimr (profile), Jul 9th, 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."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Jay (profile), Jul 9th, 2010 @ 7:30am

      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.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        crade (profile), Jul 9th, 2010 @ 7:41am

        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.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 8:36am

      Re:

      Well, it's a good thing that Canada doesn't accept small-time IP litigation right now...but only because our courts are smart enough to see them as wastes of time.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 8:54am

      Re:

      It doesn't work that way, the dark side still wants draconian laws passed the levy is just a form of free money for them and many governments don't mind because people think it gives them something when it does nothing of the sort.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 7:20am

    DUH!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 7:28am

    I doubt US ISPs would have any reason to worry about this: there's no such tax in the US and none of them want to adopt non-neutral policies that privilege infringing content anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    crade (profile), Jul 9th, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Policies intentionally privileging infringing content isn't the issue. The issue if if they have policies that try to prevent infringing content but fail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    fogbugzd, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 7:46am

    "Perhaps this ruling will get them to think twice. "

    >>Perhaps this ruling will get them to think twice.

    Heck, I'd be delighted if they thought once. Modern corporate execs most parrot what they are told by their own lobbyists and lawyers. Original thought seems to be beyond most of them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 8:31am

    If there is a blank media levy to cover the costs of copyright infringement, then I observe that as permission now to go ahead and copy whatever I want. Now it has been paid for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Brad, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 8:35am

    Implied Consent

    I see the levy as implied consent to pirate content. If I'm paying for it anyway....why not!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      crade (profile), Jul 9th, 2010 @ 9:13am

      Re: Implied Consent

      Fighting piracy is only spoken of in relation to the levy as a deception when they are marketting it. Actually, it does not address piracy in any way and is only compensation to allow people to do things like format shifting and other stuff they should be allowed to do without paying extra anyway.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Serge, Jul 12th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Uh, no.

    This court case had absolutely nothing to do with any copyright levy. Suggest you read it before writing about it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This