It’s no secret that torrenting and piracy websites are the bane of the entertainment industry. With the U.S., Canada, and Mexico re-negotiating NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) which has been in effect since 1994, copyrights are one of the big topics of discussion. Bell, one of Canada’s largest telecommunications and broadcasting companies, wants the Canadian government to push for copyright reforms in the trade discussions. One of the key points they are after is for an independent agency to maintain a blacklist of piracy sites with government oversight.
When presenting to the Standing Committee on International Trade on NAFTA, Bell had this to say:
Our view on how we solve the piracy problem is it is not sort of coming up with new technological measures, it’s blocking access to piracy. How do you do that? We would like to see measures put in place whereby all Internet service providers are required to block consumer access to pirated websites. In our view, that is the only way to stop it. So you would mandate all ISPs across the country to essentially block access to a black list of egregious piracy sites. That would be job number one.
As mentioned above, Bell proposes an independent agency, possibly with CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) oversight:
In our view it would be an independent agency that would be charged with that task. You certainly would not want ISPs acting as censors as to what content is pirate content. But, surely, an independent third party agency could be formed, could create a black list of pirate sites and then the ISPs would be required to block it. That is at a high level how we would see it unfolding, perhaps overseen by a regulator like the CRTC.
In addition to the maintained blacklist of piracy sites, Bell also wants to impose criminal charges and liability for cases of commercial copyright infringement. Rogers, another of Canada’s “Big Three” telecoms, is taking a more sensible approach:
The 2012 Copyright Modernization Act was carefully developed by Parliament over many years and is designed to serve the interests of all Canadians in its balance between rights holders and uses of copyrighted works. We are concerned that a trade renegotiation, where copyright issues are used as bargaining chips, could endanger this delicate balance. In our view, any changes to our domestic copyright laws should be made through the upcoming five-year review of the Copyright Modernization Act, not through the NAFTA renegotiation.