Cease and Desist

Today I will go into more detail about a “cease and desist” system used in Canada that some don’t know exists, while others don’t understand. In this blog post I aim to fill you in on exactly what you need to know.

The “cease and desist” system, also known as the “notice and notice” system, is formally known as the Copy Modernization Act or Bill C-11. This act basically creates a barrier between copyright holders and individual internet users when copyright infringement has allegedly occurred, by using the internet service provider (ISP) as a “go between”.

The system has been used for upwards of ten years already, so the amendment of the Copyright Modernization Act in effect as of January 1st 2015 was merely meant to put the system into writing and make it legal. You’d think that making an informal system legal would make things simpler, right?


Changes to the Copyright Modernization Act took effect January 1st 2015. According to an article by the University of British Columbia Walter C. Koerner Library, under liability, the amendment states that unless an internet provider is known to be “designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement” like a file or music sharing website, the provider is not liable for copyright infringement (UBC “Copyright”).

Also, the maximum liability under Canadian copyright law for non-commercial purposes was lowered from $20,000.00 to $5,000.00 for all works, in a single legal proceeding (UBC “Copyright”).

Sure, that’s still a lot of money – that would almost pay my tuition. But when looking at liability for non-commercial consumers, it’s nothing.

Basically the “notice and notice” system works like this: a content owner can monitor websites where files are shared to see when their content is being copied (UBC “Copyright”).

If the content owner believes that copyright has been infringed, they can notify the service provider connected to an IP address through an infringement notice (UBC “Copyright”). They do not know who the IP address belongs to, only the ISP (UBC “Copyright”). The network provider then, by law, has to try to identify the person associated with the IP address, forward the infringement notice to the individual, and tell the content owner that the notice has been forwarded (UBC “Copyright”).

To read the full UBC article, click this link: *http://copyright.ubc.ca/guidelines-and-resources/support-guides/bill-c-11-the-copyright-modernization-act/ http://copyright.ubc.ca/guidelines-and-resources/support-guides/bill-c-11-the-copyright-modernization-act/* .

The intention of the “notice and notice” system is to deter Canadians from infringing a company’s copyright. Multiple notices are issued before any legal action is sought in an attempt to educate, as stated by Michael Geist of the University of Ottawa in an interview with Sunny Freeman of Huff Post Business Canada on January 8th 2015 (Freeman “Q&A”).

The House of Commons committee notes that the number of subscribers who received second notifications dropped significantly, and the number of those who received a third notification dropped even more (Freeman “Q&A”). Very few people received more than just a notification, proving that the system works in deterring Canadians (Freeman “Q&A”).

In addition, Geist stated that starting a lawsuit has proven to be generally ineffective in deterring illegal downloading in Canada, and given the $5,000.00 liability cap (and high legal fees), it’s not really worth it (Freeman “Q&A).

To read the full interview, click this link: *http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/08/michael-geist-copyright-modernization-actn6436584.html http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/08/michael-geist-copyright-modernization-act_n_6436584.html* .

The problem, of course, is that there is always a problem. In an article in the Toronto Star published on January 9th 2015, titled, “Canadians face barrage of misleading copyright demands”, Geist stated that a U.S. anti-piracy firm has sent notices to Canadian subscribers with threats of up to $150,000.00 in liability costs, despite the $5,000.00 liability cap (Geist “copyright demands”).

Furthermore, threats to suspend Internet access were attached, which is also not allowed under Canadian law (Geist “copyright demands”). Settlement of $20.00 is offered to prevent a lawsuit, but the notices don’t mention that the rights holder doesn’t actually know who the subscriber is and would need a court order to get their information to pursue legal action (Geist “copyright demands”).

Because the law “did not establish any limitations on the inclusion of additional information nor any penalties for notices that contain false or misleading information”, Canadians are faced with the possibility of being bombarded with “misleading settlement demands” (Geist “copyright demands”).

To read the full article, click this link: *http://www.thestar.com/business/technews/2015/01/09/canadiansfacebarrageofmisleadingcopyright_demands.html http://www.thestar.com/business/tech_news/2015/01/09/canadians_face_barrage_of_misleading_copyright_demands.html* .

These notices and their attached threats have sent many people into a tizzy, and to avoid paying legal fees, many have opted to pay the $20.00 settlement fee.

Rather than pay, I recommend one of two things. One: consult a lawyer. I worked for a lawyer for four years, I know from experience that if you call and ask for five minutes of their time because you received an infringement notice from your ISP, they will most likely try to help.

If you don’t want to call a lawyer, I understand, and recommend option two. Long story short, folks: if you get an infringement notice, don’t panic.

It’s nicknamed a “cease and desist” notice for a reason: you need to cease and desist. Look at what you’re doing online, and make a conscious effort to change. That means: don’t download computer application torrents, movie torrents, or free music. Trust me, it’s not actually free. Don’t go on file sharing websites you know are illegal, or rather, try to stay away from file sharing websites altogether. If you must, look into the website first.

Pay for your music. Subscribe to Netflix or Shomi where you can watch your television shows and movies as frequently as your hearts desire without having to worry about infringing someone’s copyright.

Thanks for reading! Until next time, this is Jenn, signing off.

Works Cited

Freeman, Sunny. “Canada’s New Unauthorized Downloading Rules: A Q&A With Michael

Geist.” Huff Post Business Canada (2015): n. pag. Web. 10 Jan 2015.

Geist, Michael. “Canadians face barrage of misleading copyright demands.” *Toronto Star *9 Jan

2015: n. pag. Web.

University of British Columbia: Copyright at UBC. “Bill C-11: The Copyright Modernization

Act”. * Walter C. Koerner Library, n.d.: n. pag. Web. 22 Nov 2015.*