A broad coalition including Canada’s major ISPs is requesting several changes to the country’s copyright law. They want a standard for copyright infringement notices, so the millions of requests can be handled more easily. In addition, they call for a useful deterrent to stop rightsholders from sending piracy settlements requests.
The Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright (BCBC) is a lobbying group which includes Canada’s largest ISPs Bell, Rogers, and Shaw, as well as Google.
The coalition doesn’t have a web presence but, behind the scenes, it’s making sure that the interests of its members are shared when major legislative changes are on the agenda.
This is currently the case. Canada is working on a Statutory Review of the Copyright Act, and together with more than a hundred other stakeholders, BCBC submitted several recommendations.
One of the items high on the agenda are the copyright notices which rightsholders send to ISPs. Millions of these are processed by ISPs every month, and they are obliged to forward them to their customers.
This notice-and-notice system caused quite a controversy, as some companies abused the system to send threatening settlement demands. This practice was outlawed with the recent passing of C-86 but BCBC believes that additional changes are required.
Under BCBC’s umbrella, the ISPs state that they are happy with the update, but they note that there’s no deterrent to stop rightsholders from sending settlement requests. Instead, the burden of excluding settlement demands rests with them, they argue.
“Bill C-86 makes it clear that ISPs will not be required to forward settlement demands to subscribers. However, the amendments contain no useful deterrent to dissuade rights holders or claimants from including settlement demands in their copyright notices.
“The onus for excluding settlement demands from copyright notices must rest solely with rights owners,” BCBC’s submission adds.
The group doesn’t give any concrete pointers on how to address the situation, but a fine or other punishment for those who continue to send settlement requests seems most logical.
The ISPs also highlight another problem. They are currently receiving millions of piracy notices per month, in many different formats. To process these requests more easily, they call for a notice standard so they can be processed automatically.
“ISPs are currently receiving millions of notices per month and
there is no way for these notices to be manually processed. Large ISPs have to adopt automated systems to process and forward the volume of notices they are receiving,” the submission reads.
The idea for a standardized notice template is not new. ISPs and members of the movie industry previously agreed on a standard computer readable format, ACNS, which is publicly available.
BCBC hopes that the Canadian Government will embrace this standard, not only to lower the costs for ISPs, but also to shield Internet users from receiving non-compliant piracy warnings.
“The Government should use its existing authority to enact regulations requiring that notices be submitted electronically in a form that is based on the ACNS 2.0. Mandating the use of these standards will eliminate the risk of ISPs forwarding non-compliant notices,” BCBC recommends.
Aside from piracy notices, BCBC also touches on pirate site blocking. It is no surprise that the major ISPs are not against such measures, as last year’s site-blocking push revealed.
In their current recommendation, they don’t call for site blocking without a court order. However, they do stress that, if a court issues a blocking order, the CRTC should not be able to stop it from being implemented.
“The BCBC finds it unacceptable that an ISP could be ordered by a Court to block access to an infringing internet service and prohibited by the CRTC from complying with that Court Order.
“A telecommunications services provider should never have to choose between complying with a lawful Court Order and complying with theTelecommunications Act. This conflict must be resolved in favor of the Court Order,” the group adds.
A copy of the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright’s Submission to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology regarding the Statutory Review of the Copyright Act is available here (pdf).