What is the FairPlay Canada coalition proposing?

We want to ensure Canadians can continue to enjoy the programming they love and protect the jobs of the people who create it. The livelihood of thousands of Canadians working in our creative sector is at risk because of online piracy. FairPlay Canada proposes a system similar to other countries like the UK, Australia and France, that would empower the CRTC to identify and remove the ability of illegal piracy websites to reach Canadians. This would be subject to oversight by the Federal Court of Appeal.

What tools are needed to combat piracy?

Like everything else, the nature of piracy has changed dramatically in an era of constant digital innovation. We need modernized tools to protect against illegal acts of online piracy. The approach FairPlay Canada proposes is a practical way to address a growing problem.

Piracy websites and services are operated anonymously online from jurisdictions all over the world, making it difficult or impossible to identify the people responsible for them or to bring enforcement actions. It is unreasonable to expect an artist or a small Canadian production company to track down and sue multiple anonymous parties operating in other countries every time they identify their content being stolen. A solution that instead focuses on making it harder for those sites to make content available illegally in Canada is just common sense.

Aren’t there already protections in place / laws to prevent piracy?

Piracy is already illegal but the tools to address it have not kept up with constant digital innovation.  We need modernized tools to reduce the impact of illegal acts of online piracy.

When do you hope the agency will be in place?

The CRTC will need time to consider the proposal. Given the urgency of the problem, however, we are hopeful that the proposal will be reviewed expeditiously.

Is piracy truly a problem?

Piracy is a problem and it’s getting worse. In 2016, there were 1.88 billion visits to illegal piracy sites in Canada. International piracy websites are profiting from millions of dollars in advertising and subscriptions based on hosting stolen content undermining both the creation of uniquely Canadian cultural content and the work of thousands of Canadians employed in those industries.

Is this an attack on net neutrality?

The proposal has nothing to do with net neutrality.  In fact, the coalition strongly supports net neutrality and the free flow of legal content on the Internet. What we want to stop are illegal acts of online piracy that deny Canadian creators fair compensation for their work.

Isn’t there a danger that legal websites will be targeted / affected?

Applications would only target blatant piracy sites, and anyone who thinks they may be impacted would have recourse to object through the established process.  Courts that have reviewed similar regimes in other countries have found that they are effective and that there is no evidence of over-blocking.

Objections could occur through the IPRA process, as well as through the oversight of the CRTC itself, and judicial review by the Federal Court of Appeal.

Why do we need a new agency?

The current tools aren’t working and need to be modernized. The agency would be independent and work with the CRTC to identify blatant piracy sites.  Final decisions will rest with the CRTC, and be reviewable by the Federal Court of Appeal. The FairPlay Canada proposal puts the independent regulator in charge – private companies would have no ability to unilaterally disable access to a site. The CRTC will make the final decisions, while the IPRA will be able to develop expertise and provide all parties with a more expeditious,  and efficient, and less costly, process.