Canada Fast-Tracks Draconian Anti-Piracy Law

Following pressure from the US Government, Canada is preparing to ram through a revamped copyright bill that will have disastrous consequences for consumers. The Government is hereby ignoring the public consultation held last year, where many Canadians spoke out against harsher copyright legislation.

In 2008, Canadian lawmakers proposed a new anti-piracy bill dubbed C-61. The plans met great opposition from the public and were eventually wiped from the table later that year prior to the federal elections. Last year, the Government decided to consult the public on what they would want from a new copyright bill.

In that consultation the public made it clear that stricter copyright laws are not welcome. However, it seems that this has had very little effect as Canada’s Prime Minister is about to announce a ‘new’, even more draconian law. Michael Geist, prof. E-commerce Law in Ottawa, described the bill as “the most anti-consumer copyright bill in Canadian history.”

The owner of isoHunt, one of the largest BitTorrent sites that will be directly affected by the law, is rallying opposition against the new bill. IsoHunt’s Gary Fung is warning of the effects the bill will have on Canadians.

“The effects of a draconian copyright bill in Canada can be far reaching. Things Canadians take for granted, like copying your music from your computer to your music player and vice versa, can be deemed illegal with this new bill,” Gary told TorrentFreak.

“ISPs can be forced to handover private information of users on a whim without due process. They may be further encouraged to throttle P2P traffic, even for entirely legitimate uses like game files distribution. The new bill also is unlikely to provide fair exceptions for breaking DRM for purposes that doesn’t violate copyright, which unfairly prohibits one’s tinkering with electronics he owns,” Gary added.

Gary’s warnings are justified. Although it is not completely clear what the details of the new bill will be, it is expected that it will be the Canadian equivalent of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This means that copyright takedown request become a censorship tool while consumers lose several ‘fair use’ rights.

IsoHunt is currently hosted in Canada and involved in a lawsuit against the Canadian Recording Industry Assicoation (CRIA). If this new bill is passed, this would mean that isoHunt’s chances of winning that long standing legal battle will decrease significantly.

Gary further told TorrentFreak that he is worried that the new bill will lead to increased censorship by copyright holders. “We need laws that support our neutrality and our ability to operate a search engine free of censorship and unreasonable constraints,” Gary told us, adding that the new bill would provide the opposite.

“We’ve seen record labels sending us takedown notices mixed with links to porn, and the new Canadian bill should provide recourse against rights holders providing false identification information. Unless music companies are really switching to distributing porn,” he added.

Once again, we have to encourage all Canadian readers to speak out against the bill before it’s too late. Although the Government ignored the people’s opinion during the consultation, doing nothing will mean that the war is lost for sure. Michael Geist encourages all Canadians to write a paper letter to their Member of Parliament and provides some further pointers.

Update: Here’s a letter wizard.

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