Canada Is a Hotbed for Online Piracy, Rightsholders Claim

The MPAA, RIAA and other entertainment industry groups are unhappy with how the Canadian Government is approaching the problem of online piracy. The country remains very appealing to pirate sites, they claim, while ISPs often fail to warn infringing subscribers effectively.

canadaThe International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has just published its latest submission to the U.S. Government, providing an overview of countries it believes should better protect the interests of the copyright industry.

The IIPA, which includes a wide range of copyright groups including the MPAA, RIAA, BSA and ESA, has listed its complaints against a whole host of countries. As in previous years, Canada was discussed in detail with the recommendation to put it on the 2016 Special 301 ‘watch list.’

Like previous years, the rightsholders’ group points out that many of the top pirate sites have connections to Canada, labeling it as a safe haven for online piracy.

“Canada still has far to go to rectify its reputation as a safe haven for Internet pirates. Indeed, a number of the world’s most popular Internet sources dedicated to online theft of copyright material retain connections to Canada,” IIPA writes.

The group highlights KickassTorrents as one of the prime offenders but also mentions other sites and services including,,, and

“This includes the biggest BitTorrent site in the world in terms of visitors and popularity,, along with the various other incarnations that the so-called ‘Kick Ass Torrents’ operation has assumed in its domain-hopping peregrinations over the past eight years.”

In addition, the IIPA signals a relatively new group of infringing services with ties to Canada, including Popcorn Time, which run on people’s desktop computers but are also sold pre-loaded onto set-top boxes.

“A disturbing recent trend is the emergence of stand-alone BitTorrent applications that employ an attractive, user-friendly interface that enables users to illegally stream and download infringing movies and TV programs,” the report reads.

There is also some positive new to report. Two years ago Canada adopted the Copyright Modernization Act, and according to the IIPA a new provision (27, 2.3) helped to target the Canadian developers behind the popular fork.

“In October 2015, a Canadian Federal Court issued a sweeping injunction against the Canadian developers of PopcornTime,” IIPA writes.

“The court relied, in part, on claims that the defendants had provided services primarily for the purpose of enabling acts of copyright infringement, in violation of the newly enacted provision,” the group adds.

Still, the new copyright act doesn’t go far enough according to the copyright holders, and new legislation is required to address ongoing problems.

“In other respects, however, the Copyright Modernization Act simply fails to respond adequately to the challenge of online piracy,” the IIPA notes.

Canada’s new “notice and notice” system, through which ISPs are obliged to warn pirating subscribers, is not very effective, they claim. Especially when there are no consequences for subscribers who continue to pirate.

In addition, they point out that Canadian law lacks a “notice-and-takedown” regime where hosting companies can be held liable if they fail to disable access to pirated material.

The IIPA believes that in the current legal environment online pirates, even those who fall into the criminal category, can roam free. The U.S. Government should therefore keep Canada on the “watch list,” encouraging it to change its laws.

“The consistent absence of any criminal enforcement in Canada against even the most blatant forms of online theft complete the picture of a system that is still not up to the challenge,” the IIPA writes.

“Canada should review the effectiveness of its current regime, and consider alternatives to remedy its shortcomings and the current lack of incentives to stimulate full inter-industry cooperation against online piracy,” they add.

The IIPA’s full 2016 Special 301 recommendation report is available here. This also includes assessments for more than a dozen other countries, including Brazil, China, India, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

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