FairPlay Canada is a coalition of Canadian artists, content creators, unions, guilds, producers, performers, broadcasters, distributors, and exhibitors who are asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to take action to address the theft of digital content by illegal piracy websites.
Canada’s cultural industries contribute $54.6 billion annually to GDP and account for more than 630,000 jobs. Film and TV production in particular contributed a total of $8.5 billion and over 140,000 jobs in 2015-2016 to the Canadian economy. These contributions are being put at risk by online piracy.
While the illegal copying and distribution of creative content is not new, the borderless nature of digital piracy, which relies on the anonymous and global nature of the Internet, has made the tools for fighting it currently available in Canadian law ineffective.
According to a 2017 MUSO report, there were 1.88 billion visits to illegal piracy websites in Canada in 2016.
According to Sandvine, illegal add-ons to access piracy websites were found on KODI devices in seven per cent of North American households (approximately one million Canadian households) in 2017, while devices configured to access illegal pirated TV subscription services were also found in seven per cent of households.
International online piracy websites are profiting from millions of dollars in advertising and subscriptions from hosting stolen content, undermining both the creation of uniquely Canadian cultural content and the work of thousands of Canadians employed by the creative industries.
Lead by Example: How Other Countries are Taking Action
Since 2001 more than 20 countries have adopted regimes enabling rights holders to request ISPs disable access to piracy sites, including Australia, Denmark, France, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Korea and the United Kingdom, effectively shifting consumers away from illegal sources of digital content and back to legal sources.
In 2001, the European Union issued a directive requiring all member states to make it possible to obtain a mandatory order against intermediaries whose services are used to infringe copyright.
In Britain alone, disabling access to just 19 piracy sites in 2013 led to a 12 per cent increase in traffic to legal streaming services. Implementation of the coalition’s proposal would result in hundreds of millions of dollars in value that is currently destroyed or flowing to illegal sites in foreign jurisdictions instead of returning to benefit Canada’s digital economy.
Modernizing the Tools Available in Canada: How the IRPA would work
The CRTC would establish the Independent Piracy Review Agency (IPRA) to consider applications identifying piracy sites, hear evidence from all sides, conduct a hearing if necessary, and make recommendations to the CRTC on which sites can be appropriately addressed with this new tool.
If the CRTC followed the IPRA’s recommendation, all ISPs would then be required to disable access to the identified sites, making it more difficult for them to reach Canadians.
Alleged piracy sites would have recourse to object to applications to the IPRA, through the IPRA process, as well through the oversight of the CRTC itself and judicial review by the Federal Court of Appeal.