New regulations about illegal downloading go into effect

John Cotter

Jan 2, 2015

James Armstrong, Global News

(Recap)

Looking to get your hands on a digital copy of The Interview, or Fury, or Birdman before they hit store shelves? Or how about the latest episode of Game of Thrones just minutes after it ends on HBO?

Well, if you’re downloading files illegally in Canada on Jan.  2, 2015 you might be getting a notice from your Internet service provider (ISP) asking you to stop.

But that’s all – the notices are not the first stages of a lawsuit and you won’t go to jail. So what’s new and how effective will these notices be in preventing piracy?

The Jan. 2 rules just codify what ISPs have generally been doing the last ten years: they require providers like Rogers and Bell to send a letter, technically called a “Notice and Notice,” to the person connected to the IP address asking them to stop if they’re thought to be partaking in copyright infringement.

Your ISP isn’t going out of its way to track what you download though. Instead, it’s only required to forward notices it’s received from copyright owners.

But that doesn’t mean you can get away with downloading your favourite movie illegally. Copyright holders are still able to take people to court; but the case would be civil, not criminal, according to John Cotter, a lawyer with Osler.

“In terms of rights and remedies, the copyright owner has what they’ve always had,” Cotter said. “So that if the recipient of the notice doesn’t take down the content in question, they have the same exposure they’ve always had to liability.”

Cotter said damages for copyright infringement can range between $500 and $20,000 for commercial activity.

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