Local governments gather in Whistler for this year’s UBCM convention by Province of British Columbia (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/ppp6Jc

Local governments gather in Whistler for this year’s UBCM convention by Province of British Columbia (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/ppp6Jc


Canadian Government on Copyright Notice Flood: “It’s Not a Notice-and-Settlement Regime”

The flood of copyright notices in Canada continues to attract attention and generate concern among many Canadians. I’ve posted several pieces on the issue, including a recent post on what recipients should consider if they receive a notice. I still receive daily emails from notice recipients, with some admitting that they quickly paid the settlement in a panic and now fear that they may have opened the door to even more settlement demands. In response to this copyright abuse, I was pleased to participate in an open letter signed by many groups calling on the government to fix the loopholes in the notice-and-notice system by prohibiting the inclusion of settlement demands within the copyright notices.

A recent Metro article suggests that the government is well aware that the system is being misused. Industry Minister James Moore’s press secretary Jake Enwright emphasizes that “there is no obligation for Canadians to pay these settlements” and that the current system is “not a notice-and-settlement regime.” Those are encouraging words that come as close as the government can to tell consumers that it does not believe that settlements should be included in the notices and to hint that it does not expect Canadians to pay.

With CEG TEK, the primary notice sender, leaving little doubt that it intends to continue, it falls to the government to address the problem. Enwright says that the government is waiting for the industry to identify an appropriate solution, but the real problem lies with the absence of regulations that prohibit the inclusion of settlement demands within notices that were designed to educate, not bully Canadians into paying pricey settlements. The government often talks about a copyright balance, yet it has decided to move ahead with copyright term extension without any consultation following backroom lobbying from the recording industry and is somehow is content to leave thousands of Canadians without protection against misuse of the very system it created.


  1. The Copyright Act provides power to set the content of these notices by regulation. Implementation of notice-and-notice was delayed for years, on the assumption that the government was working on regs. Then the government suddenly said eff the regs, we’re implementing it without regs… And this is the direct result.

    • Yes. Specifically, there is enabling language in 41.25(2) “A notice of claimed infringement shall be in writing in the form, if any, prescribed by regulation…” and 41.26(2) “The minister may, by regulation, fix the maximum fee that a person may charge for performing his or her obligations under subsection [41.26](1). If no maximum is fixed by regulation, the person may not charge any amount under that subsection.”

      No changes to the act are necessary, it seems. We just need the regs.

    • In terms of practical effect, rather than limiting the content of notices, I think the regulation that would have the greatest impact on mass notices would be the setting of a maximum notice fee, which would give ISPs the ability to set a fee for forwarding notices.

      Currently, since no “maximum fee” is set by regulation, the Copyright Act prohibits ISPs from charging any fee at all. ISPs that do not receive their fee do not have to forward notice. This change also would protect consumers from bearing the potentially substantial cost of administering these notices.

      Obligating the notice senders to pay, perhaps, a dollar per notice (I haven’t any idea what’s reasonable) would quickly discourage CEG TEK and others from sending notices in all but the most certain and egregious cases.

  2. “Enwright says that the government is waiting for the industry to identify an appropriate solution”…
    Ummm…the industry’s solution is to nail everyone they allege to have downloaded something (or uploaded) with as high a financial penalty as possible. That has always been their solution to “arrrgh, piracy”.
    It is the government’s responsibility to create solutions and put in place safeguards for Canadians while balancing that with a fair solution to those who own copyrighted material. Leaving it to the “industry”, will only ensure further draconian laws that will affect everyone, not just “pirates”.
    Now, that all said, I surely recommend that you don’t download or upload anything you shouldn’t. My only concern is for those of us who do not and face the risk of being falsely targeted as well as having the “freedom of the net” become more of a thing of the past than it is now.

  3. Pingback: 'No Obligation' For Canadians To Pay Settlements In Copyright Notices - Sean Says So

  4. This “Copyright Notice Flood” might not be actionable, but only just not yet. The fact that “copyright troll”* CEG TEK International is making abundantly clear its litigious intent. For this reason, people should be on guard, document any and all “notices” messages they may receive, and archive this information for transfer in use by any agency investigating the litigants for breach of civil procedure, or for the possibility of indictment on criminal charges for their actions against a “class” of citizens.

    If we observe them following the established a priori actions, we may be able to demonstrate their actions as none other than those consistent with the definition of Hate Crime…

  5. Liam Young says:

    The simple truth is that the Cons work for corporations, not Canadians.
    Most Canadians have basic demands when it comes to content and if there are reasonable delivery mechanisms at reasonable prices, we’ll all be law abiding citizens. Unfortunately, we continue with the dance around copyright, control and cash and we are all losing patience.
    Also, what happens if someone hacks my computer and does a bunch of downloads without my permission or knowledge? What then?

  6. Hello all.

    Quick question here. Let’s say you’re one of those horrible nasty movie down-loaders, can you be sued for copyright damages IF the movie is out in any used or second hand capacity?

    My thinking being that once a used copy of a movie is available, then it would be tremendously hard to prove damages and financial loss, would it not?

    Could someone perhaps educate me a bit on this line of thought?

    Thanks very much.


    • You hit the nail on the head Larry. From a financial standpoint, whether I sell a used CD to someone or put it up for download, the artist will not get any revenue whatsoever. The only person who won’t get revenue is the person not selling his/her property.

    • And yes, you are also correct that this contributes to the extremely idiotic “damage” amounts claimed by the RIAA/MPAA, such as the one in the Limewire case, which if I recall correctly was greater than the GDP of the *WORLD* (www.businessinsider.com/riaa-claims-limewire-owes-trillions-2012-5). These amounts amount to nothing more than emotional scare tactics.

  7. Hey Michael,

    I just received a ‘settlement’ notice for an infringement dated in Feb, filed on early Apr just last week. So thats about two separate 6 week gaps between the infringement date, the filing with the ISP, and my receiving it.

    How long does Bell keep track of these notices for? Does Bell have any issues or history of giving away user information without a court injunction?

    How many others have received these notices? Tens? Hundreds? Thousands?

    I haven’t paid the court settlement.

    PS Thanks for maintaining this informative blog. Would be a blind duck without it.