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Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet as Industry Points to Effectiveness of Copyright Notice-and-Notice System

Canada’s copyright notice-and-notice system took effect earlier this year, leading to thousands of notifications being forwarded by Internet providers to their subscribers. Groups such as the Canadian Recording Industry Association argued during the legislative process that notice-and-notice would “pose a long-term problem”, yet the evidence suggested that the system could be effective in decreasing online infringement. Since its launch, there have been serious concerns about the use of notices to demand settlements and to shift the costs of enforcement to consumers and Internet providers. With Industry Canada officials emphasizing that “there is no obligation for Canadians to pay settlement demands,” it is clear that there is still a need for the missing regulations, including a prohibition on the inclusion of settlement demands within the notices.

While the problems with notice-and-notice must be addressed, the leading notice sender says that they are proving to be extremely effective in reducing piracy rates. In fact, the system has proven so successful that a consortium of movie companies now want the U.S. to emulate the Canadian approach. According to CEG TEK, there have been “massive changes in the Canadian market” under notice-and-notice. They claim that piracy rates have dropped by the following rates in Canada:

•    Bell Canada – 69.6% decrease
•    Telus Communications – 54.0% decrease
•    Shaw Communications – 52.1% decrease
•    TekSavvy Solutions – 38.3% decrease
•    Rogers Cable – 14.9% decrease

Some of the decrease may be attributable to the inclusion of settlement demands, but the evidence has long suggested that the notices alone have an education effect that leads to a significant reduction in infringement. Within a matter of months, that has apparently been the case in Canada. Given the plummeting Canadian piracy rates, U.S. film companies that once derided the Canadian system now argue that U.S. ISPs should adopt it.

23 Comments

  1. What I’m betting is also happening is that Canadian citizens are adopting VPNs and other privacy services now. If so, we’ll see an increase in encrypted traffic.

  2. There’s a few problems with this information:

    1. The source is CEG TEK, which is hardly a neutral party. They are promoting their services to the content industry.

    2. No details have been given in any of the news reports I’ve seen as to how these piracy reduction numbers were determined. Presumably they relate to the number of notices sent out for copyright violations detected, but that’s just a guess.

    3. As far as we know, those notices have so far been exclusively for torrents. CEG TEK would have no way of knowing if those people stopped “pirating”, or simply switched to using VPNs or other methods to evade detection.

  3. People are probably getting an education in two distinct things with the notice-and-notice system:

    1. Just because someone posted it doesn’t me it’s legal for you to download; and

    2. Big brother is watching, and he knows what you’re downloading!

    Some people were probably, legitimately un-aware their downloads were illegal. A lot of people probably figured no one would notice a few down loads.

    Hopefully the people all this effort is being directed towards are the ones who are really, truly abusive.

  4. I don’t download torrents with a bittorrent client on my PC anymore. On the other hand, my seedbox located in europe does. I only download encrypted files from my seedbox through sftp. So according to them, I’m I a pirate?

  5. trendless says:

    Crave and Shomi have also been made available in the recent past. Legitimate access to content is often more a factor than any hand slapping (see: when Netflix was released here).

  6. Sure, Canadians are flocking to Shomi. I don’t think so. Try Google Trends for VPN in Canada. Notice that nice spike around January? What’s that all about?

    https://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=vpn&geo=CA&date=today%2012-m&cmpt=q&tz=

  7. The tracking software the trolls use has several a gaping flaws in it, but hey if they think the notice to notice approach is working, all the more power to industry. Maybe they’ll reward MG with a copyright fighter of the year award for pushing the notice to notice approach, and upcoming talk show appearances.

    On top of the noticeable gaping flaws, I agree with @AJames on this one.

  8. George Geczy says:

    These numbers seem to be very weak in terms of specific data used to determine them… and there is also the “correlation versus causality” effect, as many media sources are finally getting around to providing reasonable and affordable legal alternatives, from Netflix to streaming apps and other services. There has to be much more detailed look at the data to determine how much the notices are part of the reduction, but given the overall ecosystem of available services it would seem to me that the largest contributors to the reduction are elsewhere.

  9. That, or, we’re just using VPNs to download content now.

  10. The real data will come from sales. Is there a similar increase in the sale of digital goods? The answer is likely no, but time will tell.

  11. Ron Kerr says:

    I hope this paves the way for additional US based services such as Hulu and Pandora to finally offer legitimate services to Canadians. Our services like Shomi the money really are substandard.

    • Don’t bet on it. There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between more restrictive copyright laws in Canada and US services entering. Especially with Bell, Rogers, et al. having monopolies over media.

  12. “I hope this paves the way for additional US based services such as Hulu and Pandora to finally offer legitimate services to Canadians”

    Keep dreaming. And Amazon Prime. How long has it been? All these Canadians waving dollar bills in the air, for the Copyright Industry to come and collect. But no, let’s spend more money on “lobbying” and “campaign donations” and “event invitations – meet and greet – backstage passes” (bribery) than signing a few contracts and get the content out there.

  13. I believe you will find that the TRUE reason piracy has taken a dive is that these shows have all ended their run or their current season in the last 6 months:
    Sons of Anarchy
    Peaky Blinders
    How I Met Your Mother
    Mad Men
    Vikings
    The Big Bang Theory
    Rick and Morty
    Orange Is The New Black
    Trailer Park Boys
    The Mercer Report
    Better Call Saul

    There are more but my point is that there is nothing but garbage on tv right now

  14. “the leading notice sender says that they are proving to be extremely effective in reducing piracy rates”

    Company that makes money sending infringement notices claims infringement notices it sends are extremely successful at reducing infringing behavior. Film at 11.

    Left unsaid is the obvious “so pay us mountains of money to send more notices, so we can generate some more ‘statistics’ that support you paying us more money”.

    Non-story.

  15. Yes mayor, we are really happy the murder rate is at all time low. However we are bit concerned about the increased reports of missing persons.

    If you enforce something, people will a) stop doing it b) find away to do it with being caught. What is the spilt between a and b? My guess is b) vastly outweight a). But if the content creation industry is happy with apparent reduction we all should be happy they are happy :)

    • “But if the content creation industry is happy with apparent reduction we all should be happy they are happy :)”

      Unfortunately, any happiness displayed is very likely to be false. The Copyright industry works by taking a mile from an inch. Whatever is apparently satisfying them now will be unacceptable in a few months.

  16. Liam Young says:

    We’re taking the effect and making it the cause.
    ‘Taking down’ torrent networks and VPNs – the most efficient methods of transferring and sharing data – only proves that the companies that control us are still bent on controlling us, at any cost.
    It proves time and again how blind they are to progress.
    They are so desperate for a win, they’re publishing spurious data from biased sources in order to ‘declare a win’.

  17. Anonymous Coward says:

    The obvious reason for piracy going down is the availability of compelling, legal alternatives such as rdio, spotify and Netflix.

  18. I would say more people like myself have switched to a VPN to carry on downloading.

    • Ole Juul says:

      You’re probably right, but there’s likely a few others like me who don’t do any downloading and just use VPNs as a matter of principle.

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