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.