Last week I wrote about a federal court ruling that opened the door to copyright website blocking in Canada without Parliament establishing site blocking rules or the involvement of the CRTC. The decision is flawed from both a policy and legal perspective, substituting the views of one judge over Parliament’s judgment and relying on a foreign copyright case that was rendered under markedly different legal rules than those found in Canada. I concluded by noting that the case should be appealed and just over a week later, TekSavvy, the independent ISP that stood alone in contesting the blocking order, did just that. Even as the appeal was launched, however, the major Canadian ISPs began blocking access to the specific webpages identified in the court order.
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Telecom and broadcast policy figured prominently in season one of the Law Bytes podcast. With Canada currently studying potential reforms and cultural issues emerging as a possible electoral issue, there are no shortage of issues worth of discussion. Given its role as a telecom and broadcast regulator, the CRTC was the subject of several episodes: Monica Auer of FRPC talked about her extensive access to information work on the CRTC, while former CRTC Commissioner Peter Menzies joined the podcast to help sort through Cancon funding, Internet regulation, and the role of the Commission.
Earlier this month, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains took his most significant policy step to date to put his stamp on the Canadian telecom sector by issuing a proposed policy direction to the CRTC based on competition, affordability, consumer interests, and innovation. To help sort through the policy direction, the state of the Canadian telecom market, the role of independent companies that rely on regulated wholesale access, and lingering frustration with the CRTC, this week’s LawBytes podcast features a conversation with Andy Kaplan-Myrth, Vice President of Regulatory and Carrier Affairs with TekSavvy, Canada’s largest independent telecom company.
The Federal Court has issued its ruling on the costs in the Voltage – TekSavvy case, a case involving the demand for the names and address of thousands of TekSavvy subscribers by Voltage on copyright infringement grounds. Last year, the court opened the door to TekSavvy disclosing the names and addresses, but also established new safeguards against copyright trolling in Canada. The decision required Voltage to pay TekSavvy’s costs and builds in court oversight over any demand letters sent by Voltage.
Canadian ISPs Responding to Copyright Notices By Adding Information on Notice System, Privacy Concerns
The revelations that Rightscorp has been using the new copyright notice-and-notice system to force Internet providers to forward notifications with false copyright law information and demands for payment sparked considerable concern among many Canadian Internet users. In my post on the issue, I suggested two responses. First, the introduction of government regulations prohibiting the inclusion of settlement demands within the notices and creating penalties for those companies that send notices with false or misleading information. Second, Internet service providers adding their own information to the notices, advising their subscribers on the true state of Canadian law and reassuring them that they have not disclosed their personal information to the notice sender.
While there has been no response from the government, some Canadian ISPs are providing their subscribers with much-needed context. For example, TechAeris has posted the message provided by Shaw Cablesystems, which states: