01/29/2019 13:53 EST | Updated 01/29/2019 16:09 EST

Canadian Piracy Notices Can No Longer Demand Payment For Copyright Infringement

It closes a loophole many copyright holders used to be able to exploit.

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TORONTO — It's official: those piracy notices you get from your internet provider can no longer demand you pay up for unauthorized downloads.

Under Canadian law, Bell, Rogers, and other internet providers are required to forward copyright infringement notices from the rights holders to alleged file-sharers. These often contain some kind of threat about being sued by the rights holders for movies, TV shows, and other content.

But following a mandatory review of the Copyright Act, Canada has added new provisions that restrict the wording of copyright infringement notices by prohibiting demands for payment or personal info, or requests for settlement payments.

Also banned are hyperlinks to any other sites where payments can be made to content creators, which can intimidate internet users into forking over money they may not be obligated to pay out of fear of being sued.

The maximum fine for copyright infringement is $5,000, so long as it's for non-commercial purposes.

This is not about protecting pirates, but rather this is about protecting innocent people.Marie Aspiazu, Open Media

Marie Aspiazu, a digital rights campaigner with Open Media, told HuffPost Canada the changes are small, but will go a long way.

"Basically people are no longer going to have these threats and settlement demands, which actually used to work, because most people don't know their rights," Aspiazu told HuffPost Canada.

"So most people's reactions [are] to get scared and actually pay for these fees."

A number of Canadians have paid out various amounts (including the maximum $5,000 penalty) over the past two years, in a slew of lawsuits alleging they illegally downloaded movies.

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"This system, this notice and notice system, is actually subject to a lot of false positives, because IP addresses change, so sometimes they end up being associated with the wrong person, a person that's completely innocent of copyright infringement," Aspiazu said.

"This is not about protecting pirates, but rather this is about protecting innocent people."

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