If you don’t like hate mail, you should probably stop downloading your favourite TV shows.
This year, Canadian internet providers have been sending out more and more “cease-and-desist” letters to customers who prefer to torrent their Game of Thrones than fork out cash for HBO.
Does this mean you’re heading to prison? And why now? Vv Magazine explains.
Q: Is this new?
A: Yes and no. Canadians who download from torrenting websites have been receiving these sorts of letters for years. But since January 2, 2015, downloaders have been subject to new “notice and notice” provisions under Canada’s 2012 Copyright Modernization Act.
In a nutshell, these new provisions mean that copyright holders (i.e., the bigwigs at HBO or NBC) will have the power to send scary, threatening letters to Internet users too cheap to buy their content. Internet providers are now legally required to be the nasty, letter-passing middle-men. A copyright owner can also send a notice to a search engine, putting them on the hook, too.
Q: So if I download, am I a criminal?
Q: So I’m going to prison?
A: Don’t pack your bags quite yet. If you’ve received a letter, your Internet service provider is required to keep your information on file for anywhere from six months to one year. This information is protected by Canadian law, so litigious copyright holders – read: American – can’t just barge across the border and sue you.
Q: Whew. So I’m safe?
A: Nope. Meet the Digital Privacy Act, or bill S-4.
Currently making its way through the federal government, the bill would allow an organization to “disclose personal information without the knowledge or consent of the individual,” in circumstances of fraud or “for the purposes of investigating a breach of an agreement or a contravention of the laws of Canada or a province that has been, is being or is about to be committed.”
In English: names of Canadian downloaders could be accessible by these big, angry organizations. So it could be easier than ever to target Canadian pirates.
Q: Yikes. What’s the penalty?
A: If you’re lucky, $20. If you’re not, $5,000. Or you’ll be called to court.
Q: So are these letters scaring people away from downloading?
A: Seems so. According to Vice, only 5 percent of Rogers subscribers receive notices about piracy. Of those, 68 percent receive one notice, 89 percent receive two notices and only one alleged pirate in 800,000 gets “numerous notices.”
Q: Should I stop?
A: That’s your call. But it’s important you understand the risks.
That being said, will you stop torrenting? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.