Following an update of Canada’s copyright law in 2015, ISPs are required to forward copyright infringement notices to their customers.
As a result of this “notice and notice scheme,” millions of Internet subscribers have received warnings in their mailboxes, with some asking for cash settlements.
The so-called notice-and-notice system is aimed at reducing local piracy rates. While that may have been well-intentioned, some copyright holders took advantage of the system to send subscribers settlement offers, or threaten them with legal penalties.
This scheme is facilitated by companies such as Rightscorp, which are also active in the United States. In Canada, however, there was some serious backlash.
Just last week we reported how several large Internet providers, including Bell and Rogers, want the settlement language removed. The Government clearly agrees with this, as a new Bill, published yesterday, will make that possible.
The applicable language is part of the budget implementation Bill C-86 and reads as follows.
A notice of claimed infringement shall not contain
(a) an offer to settle the claimed infringement;
(b) a request or demand, made in relation to the claimed infringement, for payment or for personal information;
(c) a reference, including by way of hyperlink, to such an offer, request or demand; and
(d) any other information that may be prescribed by regulation.
This text will effectively ban all settlement attempts. That’s good news for members of the public who are no longer at risk. However, the Rightscorps of this world will be less pleased, as it destroys their business model in Canada.
Regular lawsuits, which require copyright holders to go through the courts to identify account holders, are entirely separate and still remain an option of course.
Canadian law professor Michael Geist, who highlighted the new bill earlier today, is happy with the proposal, even though it took longer than hoped.
“It has taken several years, but the government has at long last taken steps to stop the abuse by establishing requirements that effectively ban the inclusion of settlement demands within the notice-and-notice system,” Geist says.
The bill is still in the early stages and has yet to be voted on and implemented. Given the public responses we’ve seen so far, however, it seems unlikely that many lawmakers will argue against the settlement ban.