Canadian Copyright & ISP Liability

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage re-introduced the Interim Report on Copyright Reform suggesting that reform is neccessary for Canada to comply with WIPO. outlines the major proposed changes including the adoption of a “notice and takedown” approach to copyright violations and holding ISP’s liable (unless they act as true “intermediaries”) for copyrighted material passing through their networks.

If ISP’s take “timely and effective action to respond to specified requests from rights holders regarding copyrighted material on their facilities” — immediately take down content after an undefined “notice” from alleged “copyright holders” — they can make use of a “safe harbour” and would be exempt from liability. ISP’s are, in effect, being put in a position of being legal arbiters of copyright violation , something that they are not equipped or qualified to do.

In a recent study, Bits of Freedom set-up web hosting accounts on 10 ISP’s in the Netherlands and placed content clearly in the public domain on the websites. They then sent out takedown notices to all the ISP’s from a Hotmail account: 7 out of 10 ISP’s took the content down. Some ISP’s didn’t bother to look at the website itself and one even forwarded personal customer details to the fake plaintiff’s Hotmail account.