Tag Archives: Piracy

Redefining Copyright Law on Both Sides of the Atlantic

If there’s one thing that most creators can agree on, it’s that copyright law could use a spit shine for the digital age. For all the good its underlying principles do in terms of protecting original creative works, technology is fast outpacing its application.

United States - European Union map

United States – European Union map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The practical ability of authorities to pursue piracy advocates and curb copyright infringement is limited by the outdated provisions of some areas of copyright law. Those laws were crafted for a time when consumers got online via a noisy modem and could barely download an album without dedicating a day to the activity, making illegal file sharing a major effort, and streaming unlicensed content completely out of the question.

Fast forward a little more than a decade and we have blazing fast connections with the bandwidth to access any form of content via all kinds of channels, legal or otherwise. Torrent sites and apps like Popcorn Time are the new challenge to rightholders, and it’s not a fight that’s easy to win with copyright enforcement as it stands.

English: Congressional portrait of Congressman...

English: Congressional portrait of Congressman Bob Goodlatte, 112th Congress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to dedicated advocacy from creative rights advocates, US lawmakers know this is an issue and have been working hard to better understand how they can craft copyright law for the digital generation and beyond.

Few are more prominent in this policy making endeavor than the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, whose name is now synonymous with the two-year-long review of US copyright law that condluded earlier this year.

This week Goodlatte was back in action, conducting a ‘listening tour‘ that stopped in both Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, with the aim of obtaining wider views on the myriad demands on US copyright law. Some excellent coverage of  the viewpoints heard can be found under the #CopyrightListening stream on Twitter.

A selection of those comments shows how important many creators view the modernization of copyright law:

Copyright Listening comments on Twitter

Over in Europe, things are even more complicated.

Flag of the European Union

Flag of the European Union (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


With 28 member states that make up the European Union (EU), copyright must cross more than just borders, working with multiple languages, varying cultural values, and different approaches to creativity. Nonetheless, the EU is planning a broad review of copyright in 2016, encompassing everything from a single digital market to more coordinated anti-piracy efforts.

The latter is particularly timely, as studies continue to show that piracy sites are significantly motivated to conduct their operations by the profits received from advertising and subscriptions. A key paragraph in the leaked correspondence on the EU’s plans makes specific mention of targeting this problem:

“[Anti-piracy measures] can deprive those engaging in commercial infringements of the revenue streams (for example from consumer payments and advertising) emanating from their illegal activities, and therefore act as a deterrent.”

All of this is music to the ears of rightsholders, who must often feel like they’re protecting their work with one hand tied behind the back.

Even when a creator knows where their work is being taken without permission and where to report it, the hit-and-miss complaint procedure and temporary nature of takedown notices makes for a time-consuming process. That’s time that most creative folks will tell you they’d rather spend, well, creating!

None of which is to say that copyright law is ineffective, but that its authority and enforcement measures must adapt as quickly as the technology that defines content distribution. Creators on both sides of the Atlantic will be hoping that their elected representatives can find a way to craft legislation that safeguards their work for generations to come.

Whether Carrot or Stick, Copia Is Using It to Flog a Dead Horse

It’s always entertaining to watch someone attempt to turn an old idea into a revolutionary one, so imagine our delight – or dismay, if anyone takes it seriously – to read a Techdirt article doing just that. Better yet, doing so under the guise of a carefully researched “report!”

If you don’t have the heart to wade through yet more head-in-the-sand, piracy apologist schtick, here’s the hypothesis: where legal streaming services launch, piracy drops.

 

Mind = Blown, right?

This unremarkable conclusion is communicated in a thoroughly clichéd way, within a report entitled “The Carrot or The Stick: Innovation vs. Anti-Piracy Enforcement.” The document is commissioned by The Copia Institute, a Google-backed think tank which appears to receive its thoughts from the tech lobby, pretty them up in Powerpoint with some clip art, before labeling them “innovative” and releasing them into the wild.

Less an innovative think tank, more recycled arguments from a stagnant thought pool.

To take this case directly, though, let’s neuter one false premise from the outset; enforcing intellectual property law and encouraging innovation are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the former supports the latter by giving inventors and artists some degree of confidence that they will be able to make a living from their groundbreaking ideas, without someone taking them without permission.

Nor does the fact that innovation makes exciting and legal new services available for our entertainment needs mean that there’s no place for anti-piracy initiatives. There will always be those who seek to profit from content that isn’t theirs to sell, and there will always be a niche of technologically-able users who have no qualms about circumventing legal safeguards to get take what they want for nothing. As we see in the cases of Kim Dotcom/Megaupload and The Pirate Bay’s founders, anti-piracy protection is key to bringing down the illegal side of the content equation. This actually aids legal services, who understand the need to compensate creators,  because they aren’t subject to unfair competition from those who feel no need to respect intellectual property law.

From there, the entire argument falls apart, because each area must be dissected on its own merits, with little or no correlation to the other. Yes, there must be a drive to innovate and launch new entertainment services. Yes, there should be legislation in place to prevent unauthorized services vying with those that legally source their content. But the two can live side-by-side, even symbiotically, without detracting from the other. Disagree with the effectiveness of specific anti-piracy programs, by all means, but don’t try to tell us that the existence of legal services means that all efforts to curb the illegal ones should be killed.

The idea that the entertainment industry is opposed to innovation and fails to launch services that consumers want is no longer just a tired argument, it’s on the side of the road, wheezing and, we have to hope, just about ready to quit the race.

Most mainstream consumers have not yet arrived at the streaming station, but everyone from cable companies to online-only startups is now introducing. From the MPAA itself, which so often bears the brunt of criticism , the Where to Watch initiative helps to guide viewers to the content . Such a sound idea that companies like Apple and Amazon, often held up as the height of tech innovation, are just now beginning to integrate Universal Search options into their streaming solutions!

The simple fact is that the entertainment industry is working hard every day to update its production and distribution to reach consumers when and where they want to watch. Most are willing to compensate them for this effort, be it in the form of subscription fees, one-time charges, or simply watching a few ads during their content.

There’s a section of the online environment, however, that tasted piracy early on and now refuses to give up the notion that they are entitled to take any content they want, without ever having to pay anything. As much as piracy apologists like Techdirt, appropriately named, try to sling mud on the creative industry for being dinosaurs and deliberately holding back innovation, real world products simply don’t let that stick.

Cheapskate (You Ain't Gettin' Nada)

An honest approach to piracy apologism? — Cheapskate (You Ain’t Gettin’ Nada) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather than conduct “research” into the glaringly obvious to support their own ends, it would be refreshingly honest to hear something else we already know from this crowd: “we’re cheap and we don’t to pay people to create things that entertain us.”

It won’t make the attitude any more easy to stomach, but at least the arguments will finally come from a place that can be logically, if not legally justified.

 

 

Kim Dotcom Extradition Hearing Highlights Fraud on a Global Scale

The long-awaited extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom finally got underway last week, as a court in Auckland, New Zealand began to listen to arguments in favor of sending the piracy figurehead to the USA to face justice.

It’s no secret that Dotcom has polarized public opinion over the months and years since his file-sharing service Megaupload was shut down by US authorities in 2012. To some, he is the face of the “information wants to be free” argument, suffering persecution for their cause. To others, including the creators on whose back his company Megaupload crassly profited, he is simply a fraudster who has managed to evade the law… until now.

 

The latter is the case that the prosecution will make as they try to make the case that the self-styled “Bond villain” of piracy has crimes to answer for in the United States. The early appeals have been for the judge to disregard the distractions raised by Dotcom’s offline antics, from luxurious mansion-living of his Antipodean exile to his poorly-executed political career. Instead, prosecutors point to the “simple scheme of fraud” perpetrated by the service’s founder and his three cohorts at Megaupload.

That scheme includes not just offering unlicensed content for download, as is bad enough and so many sites continue to do. No, Megaupload was much more manipulative in its climb to the top of the piracy site standings.  The site created a reward structure that incentivized subscribers to seek out popular content and share it, in exchange for features and financial benefits depending on the demand for what they offered. The site was not innovative, as its owners claimed, nor was it making the requested and required steps to remove unlicensed content that Dotcom told authorities were in progress.

Consider the gall of offering something that others work hard to create, without paying for the privilege to make it available, then making users pay for that access without passing anything on. Throw in the profits from advertising and you have hundred of millions of dollars generated, for doing nothing more than creating a cloud storage system full of content you have no right to offer.

The case of Kim Dotcom typifies both the difficulty that authorities face in protecting home-grown talent on the global stage and the progress that can be made when national organizations work together to ensure that no-one is out of reach.

Although the distraction and theater surrounding Dotcom means it has taken years to get to this point, and will take longer still to get him to the US to answer the charges against him, the results will speak for creators everywhere. Intellectual property is protected by copyright law and that law forces piracy advocates .

Even when it takes years, the case of Kim Dotcom and the fate of his peers shows that there is nowhere for piracy profiteers to hide, regardless of how long it takes to make them face justice.

Live Streaming Apps Are the Latest Way for Piracy to Leap Borders

In a world where data flows across international borders even more fluidly than the rivers and waterways that tend to form them, it’s hard for creators to control how and where their work is released.

 

Nonetheless, geographical restrictions do exist to provide some measure of regulation in the digital ecosystem; designed to maintain strategic release windows in the multi-faceted movie world, for example, or to allow artists to test the waters in certain markets before expanding their work to others. Whatever the reason, it should be enough to say that a creator has the right to release what she makes on her own terms, from which audience respect should extend to abiding by any restrictions included in that creative agenda.

As we recently examined with the geo-block hacking trend in New Zealand and Australia, however, that isn’t always the case. Next it could be the turn of live streaming services to curb creative rights, as apps like Periscope and Meerkat make it harder for international release schedules to be respected.

The potential for piracy across live streaming apps was raised almost immediately when they first rose to prominence earlier this year. After standing out at the annual technology tussle of South By Southwest, users were quick to corrupt the video streams with unlicensed broadcasts of the much-hyped Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in May. The event provided an instant audience eager to seek out any source for the bout, in real time, and with no free moment or motivation to verify the legality of the broadcaster — most were, of course, unlicensed and completely in breach of copyright law.

Live streaming piracy adds another layer of difficulty to tracking and taking down content thieves. By its very nature it is Immediate, tough to ; if the DMCA takedown process for permanently posted content feels like Whac-a-mole, this is the same game cranked up to full speed when it comes to live streaming

Unsurprisingly, rightsholders are rising to the challenge of curbing unlicensed use of their work on these new channels.

Twitter’s recent ‘Transparency Report’ reveals a groundswell of takedown notices against its new service Periscope, with the number only expected to surge if the company fails to keep its house clean.  Already those request numbers are in the thousands, with the app having only a small, early adopter user base. Given the millions of takedown notices filed with Google in any given period, Twitter can hopefully see the value in preventing a more serious piracy problem before it begins.

What’s clear is that every new technological leap brings a new challenge to the protection of intellectual property and its release on the international stage. Live streaming apps offer users the opportunity to share their view of the world in real time, quickly and easily, which is an outstanding advance. It can be great fun and will undoubtedly add to the immersive experience of social networks.

What live streaming must not do is be allowed to bypass the compensation system for creators and rightsholders when their content is distributed via these new channels. In fact, a business and growth opportunity exists for the likes of Periscope and Meerkat, in that they could choose to negotiate official deals to broadcast such content and take advantage of their unique position to satisfy in-the-moment demand right from the outset.

Whether or not a service is willing to realize this vision remains to be seen, but all live streaming providers can be certain that creators will not sit on the sidelines if and when their work is offered without their permission, be it at home or streamed across international borders.

 

 

Australia Sees a Shift Towards Legal Streaming Services

Netflix has only been around in Australia for six months but it is already showing signs of steering online viewers back to licensed content. Along with home-grown peers like Presto and Stan, the company that launched down under back in March has helped to usher in a tangible drop in piracy, according to consumer group Choice.

Reliefmap of Australia

Reliefmap of Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The organization focused on two main areas: Australians who identify as “regular pirates” and those who have engaged in at least one unlicensed content act – downloading or streaming – in the past year.

In Choice’s follow up to its 2014 study those numbers dropped by three and six percent respectively, showing minor but not insignificant shifts against acts of piracy, given the short time frame in question.

Extending out to several years, if these trends continue then the signs for legal streaming – and the compensation such services bring for rightsholders – are promising. 

At this early stage, there is a lot of room for legal streaming services to expand into the public consciousness. Every subscription to a legitimate service means a consumer contributing to the creative economy and less likely to take from that same pot by accessing content from unlicensed sources.

The arrival of international services like Netflix should also spur competition among native platforms, encouraging spending on exclusive content and original titles that resonate with Australian audiences.

streaming-services-logos-usa

We need look only to the North American ecosystem to see the benefits of widespread legal streaming success. It’s not just Netflix with Emmy Awards for House of Cards and critical acclaim for new series like Narcos (both of which Australians can now access in full, as an aside). Whether the investment in new productions by Hulu, the launch of a dedicated streaming service by HBO, or the Amazon investment in Top Gear presenters that CEO Jeff Bezos himself has described as “very, very, very expensive,” it is clear that not only does legal streaming support creative production, it actually drives that creativity to the next level as competing services try to outdo each other to attract more subscribers.

As we covered in our recent spotlight on Scandinavia, no single anti-piracy tactic should stand alone if we expect to see success. Each must be supplemented by a strong national stance against piracy sites, and education for the public as to how they can avoid unlicensed content and support creativity through legal channels. The final leg of that stool involves competitive and attractive streaming services, however, and the increased availability of those services in Australia seems to support that as an important element to curb piracy, even at this early stage.

Spain Is the Latest Nation to Make Progress Against Piracy

It’s always a rough ride for national governments trying to curb content piracy within their borders. Trying to promote legitimate streaming and download services while punishing illegitimate platforms is tough enough,m but the challenge is even harder when it comes to balancing punitive measures with education for end consumers.

For all the setbacks, though, 2015 is showing signs of success for anti-piracy initiatives at the national level. 

 

Earlier this year we were happy to report on Norway’s progress against piracy. Now, at the halfway point, it’s Spain’s turn to trumpet some positive results, as Spaniards turn towards legal channels, especially on the streaming side.

As a little background, as recently as last year, Spain was Western Europe’s black sheep of the family in terms of content theft. A report commissioned by the Coalition Against Piracy found that a massive 88 percent of all digital content accessed by Spanish consumers came was unlicensed. That was only a four percent rise on the previous year, demonstrating just how established and brazen these illegal players had become in Spanish society.

At an estimated cost approaching $2 billion lost to rights holders, Spain was clearly a piracy hotspot.

Thankfully, the country’s government took that slight to heart and enacted some serious legislation to tackle the problem, including greater attention to intellectual property complaints by the authorities and the potential to block Internet service providers (ISPs) who facilitate access to illegal sites.

These efforts began back in 2012, so there has been some overlap, but now the country’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports is reporting signs of success at every level.

The highlights include:

  • 98% of all content removal requests, covering 247 sites, have been heeded, while 95% of 444 creator complaints against unlicensed content have been resolved satisfactorily,
  • Annual music revenues returned to positive growth in 2014, following a historic low the previous year, reaching $150 million dollars and posting a further 11% growth in year-on-year spending for the first half of 2015,
  • The number of pirate sites in the top 250 visited websites in Spain has been cut in half since 2012, partly due to ISP blocks but also as a result of changing consumer behavior.

As is believed to be the case in the many Scandinavian success stories, streaming music services are driving a return to legal consumption for many Spanish music fans. The movie industry will hope to see similar results in the coming year, as Netflix gets ready to launch in Spain and bring all the competitive attention that its presence in a market tends to catalyze.

In such a piracy black spot, this news represents a positive development that creators and rights holders will hope can move from short-term trend to long-term habit.

After all, the more nations that can successfully balance education with enforcement, while at the same time introducing the kind of legal content services that consumers enjoy, the more chance we have of seeing this national progress turn into a global phenomenon.

 

 

Will International Appeal Give Apple Music the Edge Over Spotify?

Apple Music launched last week with less fanfare than expected, perhaps a victim of early holiday travel ahead of U.S. Independence Day.

Regardless, it is the long haul that matters most to Apple, as the world’s most valuable brand attempts to claw back the early-mover advantage that Swedish rival Spotify has enjoyed – and exploited  – to date.

Part of that strategy is likely to be played out on the global stage, as Apple’s new streaming service is available in significantly more markets than its peers. 

 

For a quick comparison, Apple Music has launched in more than 100 countries, which is almost twice as many as Spotify currently operates in. Furthermore, there are a number of territories in which Apple has launched its service where neither Spotify nor any other notable competitors currently operate.

Perhaps most importantly of all, these are not all smaller territories with limited market potential.

Among the territories in which Apple Music will beat Spotify to the punch are India, Russia, Japan, and  Nigeria. Between these four alone, the number of potential consumers could stretch into the billions, although activating them inevitably poses a major challenge given prevailing levels of piracy and, with the exception of Japan, less mature streaming markets. This provides a stark contrast to the reverse situation for Spotify, wherein the only markets it will now operate without competition from Apple Music are Turkey, Taiwan and smaller European nations like Liechtenstein and Andorra.

The importance of this advantage cannot be overstated. For many consumers in these countries, which potentially hold the key to the global expansion of streaming music, Apple’s platform will be their first experience of the phenomenon. Given the game-changing nature of digital streaming, not to mention the fact that many hold it up as the long-term solution to piracy, the potential for Apple Music to take giant strides into these territories is just as crucial as its need to build a customer base in the United States, Europe, and Australia.

In June, Spotify announced that it has passed the 20 million mark in terms of paid subscribers, while its overall active user base now numbers more than 75 million globally. Although that growth rate is increasing quickly, Apple Music is not competing from a standing start. The hundreds of millions of active iTunes accounts the Cupertino company has on file provide a solid base to convert to its new service, in addition to the Beats Music users that it hopes to bring across from the service it purchased last year.

All of this sets the stage for an intriguing evolution of the streaming music space. The market, although relatively young, has been waiting for some time for Apple to enter the fray and challenge Spotify’s dominance. It is clearly a battle that Apple intends to win, if the brand’s commitment to pay artists for all streams during its three-month free trial period is anything to go by. That will cost Apple a pretty penny, but the company clearly believes the long-term pay off in terms of brand awareness and the associated loyalty will be worth it.

For artists, the hope has to be that Apple can use its extensive resources to raise awareness of streaming music services and increase . It this really is the piracy killer that many believe it to be, making streaming subscriptions a truly global trend will have everyone involved in the music business singing Apple’s praises.

The Reality of Asking ICANN to Unveil the Anonymous

One of the greatest strengths of the Internet, its ability to operate without right or regard for international borders, is also one of its most troubling. This truly global nature opens up unique opportunities that no other channel can reach but can also used to bypass strong legal frameworks.

Intellectual property is one of those affected areas, and it is for this reason that rights holders and authorities are trying to add a layer of accountability to commercial operations online.

ICANN Logo

ICANN Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Standing against these efforts is the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Dedicated to blocking any initiatives that it fears will alter the early days of an Internet without limits – and often without respect for laws – this is an organization with its fingers in a lot of pies. And with its friends in high (tech) places, the EFF also has the funds and associated lobbying power that it denounces in other activist groups.

That said, it comes as no surprise to see the EFF rallying its troops for a debate around the responsibilities of ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – which is the US-based entity charged with keeping the Internet “secure, stable and interoperable.” 

That would be fine if the EFF had any intention of making its case in a calm and measured manner. After all, it is ICANN’s stated goal to hear from multiple stakeholders and come to a balanced conclusion about what the wider online community wants to see from the organization. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in the past, tech sector-backed lobbying groups like EFF tend to take an extreme tack to their activism, rooting arguments in Orwellian language and playing on fear as a primary mode of influence.
That’s a requirement in this case, because there’s no reason to believe that legitimate online entities will be subject to some unprompted mass outing and stripped of their digital liberty by rights holders, as the tech lobbyists are beginning to paint this particular picture. ICANN president Fadi Chehadé  said as much last week in Washington, confirming that the organization will strictly avoid becoming any kind of “content police.”

The issue here is about identifying the bad actors online through ICANN, not molding the organization into judge, jury and executioner. That said, there is still a fundamental role for it to play in securing creative rights online, as its stated objective alludes to.

As a fundamental organizer of the Internet, ICANN cannot avoid its responsibility to aid authorities when a crime is committed. Where anonymity helps criminals, whether content thieves, data hackers, our worse, it should be lifted to help investigators shut down illegal operations.

As a side note, it’s worth remembering that this proposal is not yet final, but it being discussed by a working group at ICANN.  Despite being at such an early stage, EFF lawyers are already calling this idea “troubling,” citing a desire to prevent spam and other minor irritations, at least in comparison to the theft of creative works that anonymity can sometimes cloak.

“Respect our privacy” is the call on early EFF materials. This should really read “Respect Our Piracy,” as the organization once again lines up to fight the removal of a key provision for hiding those who own the domains facilitating content theft.

Sweden Suffers a 25% Revenue Hit Resulting from Piracy

The entertainment industry in Scandinavia has a tendency to occupy both ends of the consumption spectrum. In any one month you might see headlines in Norway proclaiming piracy dead, while the country’s Pirate Party campaigns for its own extreme take on a free and open Internet.

English: Snow Cover Across Scandinavia. In thi...

Snow Cover Across Scandinavia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile, in neighboring Sweden, music streaming on sites as wide-ranging as Spotify to illegal veterans The Pirate Bay shows the area as a home to both legitimate profit and piracy.

Thus, depending on your most recent reading material, the situation for copyright protection and creative rights in the region could swing from doom and gloom to profitable paradise in one sitting.

Unfortunately this piece will have to speak to the former, as Sweden’s movie and television industry this month confirmed that it loses an estimated $100 million annually from piracy in the country.

A Frosty Picture for Swedish Filmmakers

The number arises from a report conducted on Swedish TV and movie consumption in 2014, which included 280 million instances of illegal viewing. Commissioned by the country’s Film and TV Industry Cooperation Committee, the findings show that almost one-quarter of the nation’s market for these productions is being lost to consumption via unlicensed channels.

Inevitably, this leads to a frustrating creative environment for filmmakers and TV producers in Sweden. Citing the issues that providing a home to piracy sites causes for creators both at home and abroad, Per Strömbäck, the reporting organization’s expert on digital trade, says “the situation is not sustainable.”

His analysis is correct, and also the reason that copyright activists advocate so vociferously for stronger measures to protect creators globally. Any one country can give rise to piracy and cause significant problems for creators around the world. The 25% figure shows a major concern not just for Sweden, where the impact is of course most immediately felt, but beyond its borders when productions from other countries are viewed by its citizens, or by using services they host.

Fighting Back

The most disheartening part of this latest piracy setback is that Sweden is far from a hospitable place for pirates, at least in terms of upholding copyright law.

On the contrary, the country’s authorities have conducted several raids on piracy server sites this year already, as well as having a hand in bringing the co-founders of The Pirate Bay, which was born in Sweden, to justice.

This is also the nation that just two years ago levied a six-figure fine to an individual for sharing a film illegally. Suffice it to say, the proliferation of piracy in and around Scandinavian countries is not for the want of a strong stance against it by the relevant authorities.

It is the country’s commitment to technological advancement, however, that appears to have set it up as an inviting location for pirates to test their limits. After expanding broadband capabilities in the early days of the Internet, along with encouraging digital consumption of music, movies and television, it was perhaps inevitable that Sweden would become one of the front lines in the fight against piracy.

What is encouraging is the fact that this approach has also allowed legitimate streaming sites to flourish, with the convenience and affordability of what they offer proving a powerful competitor to the lure of piracy sites. The aforementioned headlines in Norway, while perhaps a little overblown, nonetheless prove that legal streaming can make inroads against illegal platforms, given enough time.

With a supportive government and a strong commitment to copyright law, there is every reason to believe that Sweden and its surrounding countries can become a model for entertainment industries around the world, rather than a black mark on the general European trend towards protecting creators.

U.S. Looks North of the Border for Anti-Piracy Inspiration

Hollywood is the envy of the world when it comes to making movies. In terms of protecting them once they are made, though? Well, we might need to start looking to the Great White North for our anti-piracy ideas, as a new program in Canada proves to be rather successful in curbing infringing activity.

 

After just a few months in operation, the new Canadian notice system is showing drops in piracy between 50-70 percent on some of the country’s most popular network providers. The system is rooted in Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act, through which ISPs can be required to deliver copyright infringement notices to customers when they themselves are made aware of infringing activity.

Closing the loop between the makers and monitors, the firm behind the initiative – and posting these impressive numbers – is Los Angeles-based rights corporation CEG TEK International.

The results in Canada are all the more surprising because of the mixed results typically associated with notice-based systems, whether they come via ISPs or directly from rights holders.

We all know the limitations of the U.S. DMCA system, whereby rights holders flag infringing content links to the sites that host them, only to see a new link pop up with the same content and the original poster rarely taken to task for the act.

Also common are systems based on infringement “strikes,” where an ISP does notify the infringing party and/or those who access the content. But a strike system is based on escalating warnings and has generally proved too lenient, both here at home, and abroad in countries like France and the UK. The French law in particular, known as HADOPI, was reversed in 2013 after its more severe punishments were poorly enforced and users frequently found a way around the system.

So what makes the Canadian notices system more successful than those that have gone before it?

It is still early days, but it seems the threat of financial penalties are a key motivator in changing behavior north of the border. More importantly, these are not the mind-boggling fees that we saw in the early days of piracy litigation. Rather they are more manageable fines for non-commercial copyright infringement, which give the recipient pause for thought without coming across as a draconian measure.

Even with the maximum cap at $5,000 for these fines, those going out to ISP customers are significantly less. Ranging from the low to mid-hundreds of dollars, the price is not financially crippling for the user but certainly send a message that, even when it can be easily accomplished, content theft remains a crime.