Introduction

In 2012, a legislative bill was tabled which affects how the issues and laws surrounding copyright protection are handled. One of the primary areas of focus was copyright and the internet, and as such affects both copyright holders and consumers with respect to the downloading and distribution of copyrighted content on the internet.

Bill C-11 (a.k.a. Copyright Modernization Act, also abbreviated to "CMA") was brought into effect November 2012. The rules regarding Internet Service Provider (ISP) "notice-and-notice" were not brought into effect until January 2015.

Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs has provided the following resource to explain Notice-and-Notice:
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/oca-bc.nsf/eng/ca02920.html

What is "Notice-and-Notice"?

Copyright holders (such as publishers of music, movies, and books) have the legislated right to inform those who are distributing or illegally downloading copyrighted material, that they are infringing on copyright. Here in Canada, this is done by forwarding a notice to the ISP who owns the IP address of the infringement incident. In turn, the ISP is required to forward the notice to the account holder to which the IP was assigned at the time of the infringement. The entire process from copyright holder, to ISP, to end user is called "notice-and-notice".

What is Vianet's Role in "Notice-and-Notice"?

Vianet has a number of responsibilities in the notice-and-notice process, as laid out by various pieces of legislation covering both copyright and privacy.

  1. We are required to pass on the notice to the end user, granting that it meets the requirements as laid out in the Copyright Modernization Act.
  2. We are required to research and note which of our customers the IP address was assigned to at the time of the infringement, as identified in the notice from the copyright holder.
  3. We are required to keep that noted information of IP assignment, on file for 6 months. In the event that the copyright holder starts court proceedings for infringement, we must keep the information for an additional 6 months (for a total of 12 months).
  4. We are required to keep the assignment information secure, during the time it is on file.
  5. We are required to maintain customer information privacy within the protections of Canadian privacy legislation. This means that your information is never disclosed to third parties (such as copyright holders) without a proper court order.

Can I Really Be Held Liable for an Alleged Infringement?

The short answer, is yes. As the account holder, you are ultimately responsible for the activities associated with your connection's IP address. That means, if someone who is using your wireless for example, downloads copyrighted files illegally, as the account holder, you are held responsible.

What is Vianet's Copyright Infringement Notice Process?

If you've received a notice of alleged copyright infringement, it means that we received it first. That's the law. They have to send it to us first, and then we are required to pass it on to you. When the notice arrived, we first processed it to ensure that the requirements were fulfilled. When it passed that checklist, we looked up the IP based on the timestamp in the notice, made note of where the IP address was assigned at that time, and filed that away securely, to be deleted once the period for maintaining that info expires. We then attached the notice to the "wrapper email" that you received from us, and sent the entire package to you. That's it. No other information is passed along. The company that sends us the notices do not know who you are, and cannot obtain that information from us, without a court order.

I've Received a Copyright Infringement Notice. Can You Offer Advice?

Unfortunately, no. As an ISP, we are an intermediary in the process. That may not sound like much, but what it does is ensure that there is a layer of privacy protection between you and those who are sending notices of alleged copyright infringement. We can however make suggestions to help protect yourself from illegal activity on your connection.

The Copyright Infringement Notice I Received Does Not Seem Entirely Legitimate?

We cannot provide legal advice regarding the legitimacy of claims from the companies sending the notices, but we can strongly suggest that you seek legal advice prior to taking any action and/or making any contact with the copyright infringement company, regarding the contents of a copyright infringement notice.

Why Does Vianet Pass On Copyright Infringement Notices That Look Suspicious?

The simple answer, is because we are legally required to. As long as we receive notices within the guidelines set out by the Copyright Modernization Act, then we must pass them on, as-is. Just as we cannot offer advice as to the legitimacy of the contents of the notice, we also can’t pick and choose which ones we pass on. If it passes the checklist of required elements, we must forward it accordingly. We do however, strongly recommend seeking qualified legal advice before taking any action, or making contact with the copyright infringement companies.

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