The government has just posted the audio from the Toronto copyright roundtable held in late August. The discussion started off with a bang with comments from Bell Canada. Bell had a lot of good things to say including support for the positions of Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright. The discussion turned quickly to the role of ISPs in addressing allegations of infringement on their networks. Bell receives upwards of 15,000 notices every month under the notice-and-notice system (primarily from the movie, gaming, and software industry), a volume that raises concerns about the associated costs. Bell also provided a strong rejection of a three-strikes and you're out system describing those proposals as "outrageous."
The company then moved into the area of potential lawsuits with some surprising remarks:
"A role we don’t hear much about though is the role of content owners to defend in Canada their own statutory rights. Bell and a few other Canadian ISPs several years ago spent time and resources in the courts helping to develop the legal blueprint that content owners would need if and when they decided to legally pursue their rights in a way that respects the privacy and judicial rights of Canadians. We’re still waiting. No one is crazy about suing consumers because it is not popular. But what sort of message does it send to Canadians about the legality of the activity when an entire industry says we won’t be suing Canadians for sharing our content without our permission."
While one can understand Bell's frustration at the demands to "do more" on the copyright file, pushing the industry to file lawsuits against its own customers surely is not the right approach. The recording industry has stated that it does not want to pursue the lawsuit strategy, yet Canada's largest ISP thinks that not suing sends the wrong message to Canadians? Years of experience shows that neither locks nor lawsuits provide any real benefit to the industry or the artists and the last thing ISPs should be promoting is lawsuits againt their own customers.
In case you needed another reason, the comments serve as a reminder why Canadians must speak for themselves during this copyright consultation. There are just five days left and submitting to the process takes nothing more than an email – make sure yours is filed today.