Canada's Media Magazine

ISPs not responsible for copyright infringement by their users: Supreme Court

Canada’s music industry lost another major legal battle in the fight against Internet music piracy.

In a resounding 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Internet service providers (ISPs) are not responsible for copyright infringement committed by their users.

Justice Ian Binnie spoke for the majority and said that “Like a telephone company, [ISPs] provide the medium, but they do not control the message.”

The only route left for composers and publishers to collect royalties is to sue individual users. But expect that route to be a difficult one.

In March, there was a ruling that said file sharers are not guilty of copyright infringement. Famously, the judge in that case said there was “no difference between a library that places a photocopy machine in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a personal copy on a shared directory linked to a P2P service.”

In Canada, there is compensation provided for private copying. Every blank audio recording media in Canada has a levy applied to it to cover reproduction for private use.

Content Creator
Robert J. Ballantyne is a senior editor at Popjournalism and Creative Director at Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star
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