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Copyright conundrum

Copyright conundrum 

On Jan. 1, Internet service providers will be required to inform their customers of any accusations made against them regarding the unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material. Previously, sending these kinds of notifications out was an optional procedure, exercised by only a handful of Canadian ISPs.

However, a set of provisions within the federal government’s Copyright Modernization Act will change this from an optional course of action for ISPs to a mandatory one. Saskatchewan-based ISPs Access Communications and SaskTel recently stated that they will cooperate with the government and uphold the new sanctions. National ISPs Bell and Rogers are also expected to comply with the new laws.

Information about illegal downloads can be found by film production houses and music labels, but with one caveat: they will only be given the offenders’ IP addresses, and not their names or physical addresses. The ISPs will then act as liaisons between producers and individuals who are unlawfully downloading their content.

“So essentially, a copyright holder will provide SaskTel with notification that an IP address has illegally downloaded some material,” Michelle Englot, director of external communications for SaskTel said in a recent interview with Global News. “And then, Sasktel is required to notify the customer with that IP address.”

Since only the IP addresses can be uncovered, ISPs will be able to safeguard their customers’ information.

“We need to notify the organization to let them know we forwarded it to them, but we will not be providing them the customer information,” said Carmela Haines, vice president of finance and administration for Access Communications.

Although content producers will never receive customer data, a recent case forced TekSavvy to reveal the identities of 2,000 people who illegally downloaded films produced by Voltage Pictures. The independent ISP initially refused to do so, but was eventually forced to under a court-mandated order.

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