Notices to Canadian Internet subscribers
- Notice and Notice is a regime set out in Canada's Copyright Act that requires Internet intermediaries—such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs)—to forward on notices from copyright owners to Internet subscribers, alerting them that their Internet accounts have been linked to alleged infringing activities, such as the illegal downloading of movies.
- The Copyright Act grants a number of exclusive rights to the authors of original works, for example the exclusive right to reproduce their works or to communicate them to the public. These exclusive rights exist to promote the creation and distribution of Canadian content, to allow creators and innovators to receive compensation for their efforts, to create jobs and foster investment, and to ensure a thriving marketplace that offers consumers choice and access to worldwide content.
- On December 13, 2018, Parliament amended the Copyright Act to clarify that a notice of claimed infringement that contains an offer to settle, or a request or demand for payment or for personal information, or a reference to any such offer, request or demand, in relation to the claimed infringement, does not comply with the regime.
- These amendments will better protect consumers while ensuring that the Notice and Notice regime remains effective in discouraging copyright infringement.
Quick facts for consumers
- If you receive a notice of alleged infringement, it is because a copyright owner has identified your Internet address as being involved in an activity that allegedly infringes their copyright.
- Receiving a notice does not necessarily mean that you have in fact infringed copyright or that you will be sued for copyright infringement.
- The Notice and Notice regime does not impose any obligations on a subscriber who receives a notice and it does not require the subscriber to contact the copyright owner or the intermediary.
- Notices that contain an offer to settle, or a request or demand for payment or for personal information, or a reference to any such offer, request or demand, in relation to the claimed infringement, does not comply with the regime.
- The information provided by the copyright owner should help you understand the details of the alleged infringement.
- An objective of the Notice and Notice regime is to discourage online infringement on the part of Internet subscribers and to raise awareness in instances where Internet subscribers' accounts are being used for such purposes by others.
- U.S. copyright fines and penalties do not apply in Canada.
- Statutory damages for non-commercial infringement in Canada do not exceed $5,000.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Notice and Notice regime?
Notice and Notice is a tool established in the Copyright Act to help copyright owners address online copyright infringement (e.g. illegal downloading) so that they can protect their copyright material while respecting the interests and freedom of users. It formalized a voluntary industry-based practice that had been in place for several years.
How does the Notice and Notice regime work?
When a copyright owner thinks that an Internet user might be infringing their copyright, they can send a notice of alleged infringement to the user's ISP. Notice and Notice requires that the ISP forward (e.g. via email) the notice of alleged infringement to the user and then inform the copyright owner once this has been done.
For example, a copyright owner observes an Internet user with a Canadian Internet protocol (IP) address downloading a movie from a pirate site. Not knowing who the person is, the copyright owner can send a notice of alleged infringement to the ISP that owns the relevant IP address. The ISP must then forward the notice to its subscriber who was using that IP address at the time of the alleged infringement.
What is copyright infringement?
Infringement of copyright occurs when a person uses content protected by copyright in a way that violates the exclusive rights granted in the Copyright Act. An example of an activity that could be found to be copyright infringement is to download a movie from a website that hosts pirated content.
Only a court can rule whether copyright infringement has occurred. If a court finds infringement has occurred, then the infringer could be liable to pay damages to the copyright owner.
What should I do if I receive a notice?
The Notice and Notice regime aims to discourage online infringement. Receiving a notice does not necessarily mean that you have in fact infringed copyright or that you will be sued for copyright infringement.
If you receive a notice, it must contain information that will help you understand the details of the allegation, including the date and time of the alleged conduct. For instance, you may receive a notice from a copyright owner alleging that you, or someone using your Internet address, have engaged in illegal downloading or illegally sharing a song or movie.
It is possible that the notice refers to acts that were undertaken by someone using your Internet connection without your knowledge. You may want to ensure that your home network is secured by a strong password to prevent others from using your Internet connection to engage in copyright infringement.
What kind of information is included in a notice to consumers?
The Copyright Act lists the specific information that must be included in a notice for it to comply with the Notice and Notice regime.
- state the claimant's name and address
- identify the copyright material that is alleged to have been infringed and the claimant's interest or right with respect to that material
- specify the location data (e.g. the web address or Internet address associated with the alleged infringement)
- specify the infringement that is alleged
- specify the date and time of the alleged infringement
What kind of information should not be included in a notice to consumers?
The Copyright Act also lists the specific information that must not be included in a notice for it to comply with the Notice and Notice regime.
Notices must not contain:
- an offer to settle the claimed infringement
- a request or demand, made in relation to the claimed infringement, for payment or for personal information
- a reference, including by way of hyperlink, to such an offer, request or demand
- any other information that may be prescribed by regulation
A notice that includes such information does not comply with the regime. Such notices are deemed to be invalid under the regime. There is no obligation on ISPs to forward such notices on to their subscribers or to keep records that would allow those subscribers to be identified pursuant to a court order.
Your ISP must forward you any notice that complies with the regime. Your ISP may also be a source of helpful information in terms of understanding the reasons why you were forwarded a notice.
Does receiving a notice mean I am going to be sued for copyright infringement?
A notice of alleged infringement is separate from any lawsuit for copyright infringement.
Do I have to respond to the notice?
The Notice and Notice regime does not impose any obligations on a subscriber who receives a notice, and it does not require the subscriber to contact the copyright owner or the intermediary.
Will my ISP share my private information with a copyright owner who is alleging that I infringed copyright?
If ordered to do so by a court, the ISP or host must release your subscriber information to the copyright owner as part of a copyright infringement lawsuit.
What happens if a copyright owner decides to sue?
A copyright owner may decide to launch legal proceedings. Such proceedings may be launched regardless of whether the copyright owner has sent a notice under the regime. A court would then determine whether copyright infringement has in fact occurred.
Under the Notice and Notice regime, ISPs must retain records of the identity of the subscribers who have been forwarded notices for a period of six months, or longer (up to one year) in cases where a copyright owner decides to take legal action. If ordered to do so by a court, the ISP would release your subscriber information to the copyright owner as part of a copyright infringement lawsuit.
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