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Canadian media firms launch ‘dangerous’ campaign to end piracy

Blocking pirated content
Called FairPlay Canada, the group’s stated intentions are to protect the rights of content creators and producers on the Internet. In a news release late last month, the organisation said “hundreds of thousands” of Canadian creatives are at risk of losing revenue to online piracy.
The group, comprised of telecoms and entertainment firms including Bell Canada, Rogers Communications and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, is asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to support a new federal agency tasked with eradicating online piracy.
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FairPlay Canada wants the CRTC to use its regulatory powers to clamp down on Internet providers. Under its proposed rules, Internet companies would be forced to deny access to pirated content.
“What we are proposing has been effective in countries like the UK, France and Australia. We are ardent supporters of this incredible coalition that has been formed to propose a new tool to empower the CRTC to address online piracy in Canada,” said Dr. Shan Chandrasekar, President and CEO of Asian Television Network (ATN), who is filing the coalition’s application.
“We have great faith in Canadian regulators to modernize the tools available to help creators protect the content they make for Canadians’ enjoyment.”
“Dangerous proposal”
The plan has prompted an outcry from supporters of net neutrality and digital rights. If FairPlay’s requested federal agency were to be created, Internet providers would be forced to censor certain services due to the demands of entertainment websites.
In comments to TorrentFreak, digital rights organisation OpenMedia said the plan would be “like using a machine gun to kill a mosquito” as it would violate net neutrality and restrict freedom of expression.
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“We all agree that content creators should be properly paid for their work, but this dangerous proposal goes too far,” said OpenMedia.
“We also know the most effective way to stop piracy is to provide affordable, user-friendly services that give people access to the content they want, when and where they want it. This proposed scheme will cost consumers, censor legitimate content, and ultimately be used to prop up outdated services like cable TV packages.”
The CRTC is currently reviewing the application made by FairPlay Canada. It has set a February 13 deadline for the submission of final comments before it makes a report to the federal cabinet before June 1.
In the meantime, OpenMedia has commenced an online petition to prevent FairPlay’s plans being implemented. It has already been signed by over 45,000 people.
The Canadian government has signalled it’s likely to reject FairPlay’s application. In comments made in response to a leaked version of the plans last month, a government spokesperson said Canada wants an “open internet” that focuses on “opening doors” instead of “building walls.”

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