VPN Articles and News

Canadian VPNs Now Need To Warn Customers About Pirating Content

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Canada is all set to implement the C11 law (Copyright Modernization Act) from the beginning of the New Year. The law makes it compulsory for all Internet Service Providers as well as providers of anonymity services like VPNs to forward copyright infringement warnings to their customers for pirating content. Failure to so can result in a steep fine of $10,000 per copyright violation. In addition, ISPs and VPN providers are required to keep logs of their subscribers’ online activities for a period of up to six months so that infringers could be identified at a later stage.

The C11 law is markedly different from the Six Strikes Copyright Alert System implemented by the US authorities. Although services providers are required to forward all DMCA notices to their subscribers, the end users (people who actually download illegal content) do not face any kind of legal action. However, experts are worried that the law could pave the way for the introduction of settlement schemes at a later stage. Under such schemes, users found to be downloading copyrighted content illegally could be forced to pay monetary damages to the copyright owners. However, unlike United States, copyright owners won’t be able to impose huge fines on infringers since the liability for such offences is restricted to $5000 in Canada. Content owners would also need a warrant from a Canadian court in order to know the identity of the users who download content illegally from the internet.

As of now, it is not clear whether the law actually applies to VPN providers but the language used in the Act does suggest that it could be applicable to VPN providers as well. At this point of time, it is also not clear whether the law applies only to VPN services that are headquartered in Canada or whether it is also applicable on services providers that are based elsewhere but have one or more VPN servers in the country.

If the law is indeed applicable to VPN service providers, it is bound to have a devastating effect on the Canadian VPN industry. The mandatory logging clause would make Canada based anonymity services unappealing to the customers since a lot of them subscribe to VPN services in order to escape surveillance and monitoring of the ISPs as well as to protect their identity on the internet. Implementation of the law is also going to be a bad news for Canadian expats and business travelers who rely on anonymity services to access Canadian On-Demand services from overseas locations.

Due to the huge penalties involved, VPN providers headquartered or having servers in Canada are likely to shut shop or move their operations elsewhere. And even if some providers decide to stay in Canada, they are likely to ban torrenting and P2P activities within their networks since allowing such activities would expose them to legal problems at a later stage. As of now, VPN service providers are adopting a wait and watch approach to see how the law would affect their operations.

February 3, 2015

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