Canada is now trying a new weapon in its anti-piracy war: sanity.
As part of a modernized copyright structure and updated set of laws, the country is now capping file-swapping penalties at $5,000, though file-trading lawsuits and actions seem to be getting reignited. That said, penalties will now range from $100 to $5,000, and according to Canadian copyright expert Michael Geist, most fines will be closer to the $100-mark (in Canadian dollars, of course.)
It’s all part of the Copyright Modernization Act, or C-11 to locals, and it’s finally getting enacted. “This Bill ensures that Canadians will not face disproportionate penalties for minor infringements of copyright by distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial infringement,” an FAQ from the Canadian Government explained.
Fines for commercial-level piracy that goes beyond private swapping will remain the same.
The old body of Canadian law looks familiar to Americans. Canadian infringers, private or commercial, previously faced fines of between $500 and $20,000 – per work – though Modernization means drastic chops in those penalites. But the shift casts a darker light on the US, where a few, multi-year lawsuits have saddled swappers with crippling, multi-hundred thousand dollar debt. These cases were leftovers from a disastrous, RIAA-shepherded war against file-swapping fans, somehow justified by wildly-overpaid RIAA presidents like Cary Sherman.
Yet even in the US, signs of sanity are emerging: the action is shifting towards ‘six-strike’ style warnings, though ISPs now seem unwilling to yank the accounts of repeat offenders. And streaming services, warts and all, are at least eroding file-swapping volumes.
Perhaps the broader lesson is that copyright law demands frequent updates and ongoing revision, especially with technology shifting so quickly. And for that, look no further than the US-bred DMCA, a law hatched in a simpler time when ‘social networking’ sounded like a cocktail party schmoozing strategy. Canada is hoping to move forward with a body of law that accepts technologies like time-shifting, eases over-the-top penalties, clarifies rules for ISPs and search engines, and offers more rights and abilities to content creators and rights holders.
Or that’s the idea, at least.