As the new year ushered in declarations of change from those seeking self-improvement, it also marked a change in part of Canada’s copyright law process.
As of January 1, 2015, a “notice-and-notice” process has come into effect and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are now obligated to pass notices from copyright holders on to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses suspected of copyright infringement.
Previously, ISPs could chose to forward on such notices at their own discretion. Additionally, ISPs must keep records relating to the suspected infringement for a minimum of six months.
In simpler terms this change means that if a copyright holder finds that someone is infringing on their copyright, they can now send a notice to the service provider who must then pass it on to the user suspected of copyright infringement.
An example would be a record label seeing that someone is illegally downloading their music and sending a notice to the ISP being used to do the downloading. The ISP now has to pass the notice on to the user who is doing the illegal downloading.
This new process marks the implementation of the final element within the Copyright Modernization Act that the Conservative Government introduced and passed in September of 2011 and which received Royal Assent in June of 2012.
All things considered, the “notice-and-notice” process is a minor change in the system. Copyright holders have been sending these notices to ISPs for ages, and most ISPs have already been passing them on to their users, this change just sets that last step in stone.
The notices themselves do not indicate immediate legal action, but are meant to serve as a warning that a copyright holder is aware of copyright infringing activity at an IP address and there is the potential that legal action may be taken.
ISPs still have no obligation to give out the personal contact information of their users unless they are legally requested to do so by a court order when a lawsuit is launched by a copyright holder. Much of the time the notices in Canada are released in the hopes that an acknowledgement of the infringing activity will encourage users to stop of their own accord.
As always, copyright is a topic of much discussion, and this change is no exception. TekSavvy, an ISP based in Chatham, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec is one of the many ISPs to comment on the change.
In a post on their website they outline the copyright law changes that are taking place and state that they are committed to protecting the privacy of their users. The company believes that their customers have a right to “have their privacy safeguarded,” “be notified that a request for their personal information has been made by a third party” and “have an opportunity to defend themselves when claims are made against them.”
“TekSavvy will do everything in its power to protect its customers,” the statement continues. “However, we must comply with all court orders requiring us to disclose the personal information of our customers.”
Other service providers such as Rogers and Bell have released similar statements indicating that they will be following the new rules but that customer privacy will remain protected.
In the end, most internet users, even those who may download copyrighted materials in a less-than-legal fashion, will not likely see any result of the change as the main intent of the notice-and-notice process is to target those who provide the copyrighted content for download.