Over the weekend Sean Cranbury, who thinks about piracy more than most, posted a link to a Toronto Globe and Mail article on anti-piracy efforts by Montreal-based Canipre (Canadian Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement). Written by Pierre Chauvin, the article describes how one of Canipre's clients (Voltage Pictures) is using the firm's data to request user information for 1,000 IP addresses served by Teksavvy, an internet service provider.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, this kind of response to instances of piracy (actual and alleged) is pretty common. To date, Canada has been slow to embrace the use of its courts to defend a business model. In Chauvin's article, David Fewer, director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, noted:
Copyright is supposed to be a framework legislation. It’s not supposed to be used for building a compensation model.
The court is still considering Voltage Pictures' request. Should Voltage prevail, Canipre is poised to build a healthy business tracking the instance of piracy. It already claims to hold "more than one million different evidence files", no doubt an arsenal ready to put fear into the hearts of Canadian pirates.
Unfortunately, the law may not matter that much, in the end. Now that Google has agreed to consider the number of takedown requests in its search algorithm, a small cross-section of copyright owners targets more than 13 million URLs each month for removal.
Canipre can just as easily sell its services to content owners anxious to flood Google with takedown requests. Maybe that's part of their plan.
The sad thing is, we still don't know the impact of piracy on content sales. Canadian publishers buying into the enforcement model might feel better about doing "something", but it would be more comforting to know for sure that it was the right thing to do.