Canada’s New Federal Copyright Modernization Act Officially Underway
On January 1, 2015, the final stage of a sweeping new Canadian law protecting copyright holders took effect. The legislation seeks to protect copyright holders of images, sound recordings, written material and other legally protected creative works from theft by online users.
“The change is just a codification of the Notice and Notice regime, that had already been put in place by Canadian ISPs, and the content industry had pretty much acquiesced too,” explains David Fewer, director, Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic. “The Notice and Notice system in Canada is kind of similar to the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown system in the United States, but the major difference is that we don’t have a takedown system in Canada. You provide a notice and the ISPs’ obligation isn’t to take it down, it’s instead to past the notice on, and as long as the ISP does pass that notice along, then there can be no question of liability under the copyright act, it’s kind of a safe harbour.”
The new legislation allows copyright holders to sue for $5,000 for a personal misuse of their material and to seek up to $20,000 for a commercial misuse. Some legal experts speculate that the new law will result in class actions involving a number of alleged violations being addressed in class lawsuits, similar to the type of litigation that followed online regulation to protect music companies from the illegal downloading of music.
Customers will receive the violation letters via email.
In a statement from Rogers, the company says: “The new legal requirement won’t change how we forward notice to our customers. This process has been followed by Canadian ISPs for more than ten years. When it comes to enforcing copyrights, rights holders may monitor sites where their content is being viewed, downloaded or shared without consent, a process we’re not involved in. If a copyright holder (like a movie studio) identifies an act of infringement (i.e. downloading a movie without consent), the rights holder will notify the customer’s internet service provider. If we receive a notice that one of our customers has infringed on a copyright, we will forward the notice to the customer, but we will not to disclose the identity of the customer to the copyright holder without a court order.”