#CyberFLASH: How new online copyright infringement laws are affecting Canadians one year later

201310281614240l4j1t1yodou1gmqihww4xc3fAt TekSavvy Solutions Inc.’s office in the small southwestern Ontario town of Chatham, there’s a woman who comes to work each morning to help movie studios accuse the company’s customers of breaking the law. Every day, the employee has to process about 5,000 copyright infringement notices forwarded to TekSavvy by studios and other copyright holders that monitor the Internet for piracy.

She runs them through a software system, which the Internet service provider had to custom build, to ensure the text of the notice complies with the law and matches the IP address with the right customer. The software system only automates some of this task, so she still has to review each notice.

The whole process has become an expensive headache for a small company with 250,000 customers and about 500 employees, said Bram Abramson, TekSavvy’s chief legal and regulatory officer. The software system alone cost about $500,000 to set up, and the company has spent an additional $100,000 over the course of the past year to keep up with the notices.

“It’s a source of much frustration for us,” Abramson said. “It’s a whole system that had to be built. It’s not like you can buy that off the shelf.”

Accusing your customers of theft is also not great for business.

But under a law popularly known as notice-and-notice that went into effect in January 2015, ISPs such as TekSavvy are required to forward copyright infringement alerts to customers suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted material like movies, television shows and music.

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#CyberFLASH: Court Ruling In TekSavvy Piracy Case A ‘Bad Message For Privacy’

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A court ruling in a long-running Canadian piracy case could convince internet providers not to fight for their subscribers’ privacy, a noted digital privacy expert says.

The Federal Court of Canada has ordered Hollywood film company Voltage Pictures to pay Ontario-based internet provider TekSavvy $22,000 to cover costs in Voltage’s pursuit of TekSavvy subscribers alleged to have pirated Voltage movies, the Financial Post reports.

And while that may seem like a win for pirates and a loss for copyright holders, a prominent digital law expert says it’s actually a loss for Canadians’ privacy.

Voltage Pictures, which is behind such films as “The Hurt Locker” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” won a lawsuit last year against TekSavvy, an independent internet provider based in Chatham, Ont.

TekSavvy was ordered to identify some 2,200 subscribers that Voltage alleged had pirated its films in a two-month period in 2012.

In a subsequent ruling Tuesday, the Federal Court ordered Voltage to pay TekSavvy about $22,000, or some $11 per identified subscriber, to cover the ISP’s costs in the matter.

But digital law expert Michael Geist points out that TekSavvy had asked for more than $346,000 to cover legal and technical costs. (Voltage had countered by offering $884.)

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#CyberFLASH: Teksavvy and Rogers publish transparency reports highlighting the extent of government data requests

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Third-party internet provider Teksavvy and Rogers, one of the largest ISPs in Canada, have published the first Canadian telecommunications transparency reports.

Both Teksavvy and Rogers have released documents detailing the subscriber information both companies have released to police and spy agencies over the last few years. Teksavvy disclosed their transparency report first and then Rogers followed soon after.

According to Teksavvy’s transparency report, the company rejects two out of every three police requests for information. In Roger’s case, the company received 174,917 requests in 2013 for customer information from government and law enforcement agencies. This is 480 requests a day and one request per every 11 Rogers subscribers. 74,000 of these requests were court orders which means approximately 100,000 did not include warrants.

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#CyberFLASH: Digital Privacy Act Opens Copyright Loophole That TekSavvy-Voltage Case Closed

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Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, was the first to raise alarm bells about a provision buried within Bill S-4.

The bill would finally require organizations to tell Canadians when there had been a security breach involving their personal information. But the proposed rules also permit companies to voluntarily disclose personal information to another company, without a court order and without telling the person affected.

“The expansion of warrantless personal information disclosure raises enormous concerns,” Geist said. 

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