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In the next few weeks, any Canadians who have illegally downloaded music, movies, or TV shows might be getting a warning in the mail, telling them they’ve infringed upon content creators’ copyright.

Earlier this week, Canipre, an anti-piracy firm, announced it was going to be sending notices to Canadians who have been downloading content within the last 60 days, according to a story from the Globe and Mail. The firm is acting on behalf of copyright holders, and it’s acting under a new provision in the federal Copyright Modernization Act. While Canipre wouldn’t confirm the names of its clients, managing director Barry Logan said they’re major brands in industries like film, music, gaming, software, and e-book publishing.

The new provision came into force on Jan. 1, and it essentially allows rights holders to contact Internet Service Providers (ISPs) when they feel there have been copyright infringements. ISPS then have to act as a middleman, forwarding copyright infringement notices onto their subscribers, and then letting the rights holders they’ve delivered the notice.

So far, Canipre has picked up the IP addresses of “several million” Canadians, according to the Globe. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Canadian consumers are going to get slapped with hefty fines. Right now, Canadians are liable for a fine between $100 too $5,000 in damages for copyright infringement, but it’s possibility Canipre is serving up the copyright notices to educate people, rather than trying to get them to pay up. Canipre’s clients can decide on their own whether they want to sue the people who have received copyright notices.

Even downloading one or two songs or TV episodes can have consequences, Logan said.

“If we all went to the local supermarket and stole a grape, pretty soon there would be no grapes,” Logan said to the Globe. “But it’s only one little grape right?”

What’s important to note is that ISPs don’t have to give copyright holders any of their customers’ personal information, even if the copyright holder does need to ask for their identity. However, ISPs usually won’t hand over that information without a court order, said David Fewer, director of the Canadian Interest Policy and Public Interest Clinic, in an interview with the Globe.

 

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