Copyright or Copywrong?

Are the days of torrenting music, movies and TV shows scot-free coming to an end? New laws have been creeping in in Canada this year, and Singapore has had new laws established since late last year. But what do these laws consist of? And more importantly, what do they mean for us, as users?

Canada and Singapore are in agreeance for one thing: downloading copyrighted material is illegal and something should be done. Under the Copyright Act that each country has, laws are being implemented in hopes that people stray away from illegal downloads, such as torrenting. In a day and age where this is the normal thing to do, and everyone does it, how do you get people to stop downloading such accessible material?

Canada takes a scare approach, requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to distribute letters from copyright holders to customers whose IP addresses are alleged to have pirated copyrighted material. These letters, sent via email, indicate the copyrighted material, the IP address that was used and the time in infringement occurred. These letters have been sent for almost the last 10 years, but it is only in 2015 that this is now formally part of the law. This law states that if the ISP does not want to be held liable for their customers actions, they must pass on the notification.

One ISP has reported that these letters have already started working. Only 5% receive notices, 68% of those receive only one, 89% of alleged pirates receive two, and 1 in 800,000 get numerous letters. After getting a notification, most people will stop all the downloading completely, or at least find a less traceable way to pirate materials illegally.

The ISP is required to keep a record of the notice associated with the subscriber for six months to a year in the event that this case somehow goes to court. Personal information is kept safe by the ISP, and most importantly, out of the hands of copyright holders. This makes it far too expensive for the copyright holder to go after a single person for a mere $5,000. As long as the personal information is not freely handed over to the copyright holders, it is very costly for them to gain access to this information, and even more to start the lawsuit. So there is nothing to worry about…yet.

Singapore’s approach is to take the material away. The Copyright Act specifically targets the sharing sites such as, The Pirate Bay. The government has contemplated even blocking the site completely, making it (almost) impossible for pirating material at all. 60% of Singaporeans aged 16-64 have admitted to downloaded pirated content online, and even when the government takes the websites down, they are competing in an uphill battle. The sharing websites are constantly changing their IP addresses, making blocking extremely difficult as it would require constant monitoring. Going straight for the domain name seems to be the way to go if the government follows through.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way perfectly portrays how many feel in regards to piracy. In fact, I just did a little test. I tried to access The Pirate Bay in my Firefox browser, and a “Secure Connection Failed” error message appears. I then switched to Google Chrome, where I set my VPN to Canada. The site loads up no problem. Looks like the government may have already attempted to block this out, but in only a few clicks, I have regained complete access.

In summary, it seems as though Singapore’s tactic of taking the websites away is a little too easy to get around, and with little to no consequences. On the other hand, the Canadian stereotype holds ― when asked politely to stop infringing copyright, they follow through.

CTVNews,. (2015). Illegal downloaders beware, you may get a shock in 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/illegal-downloaders-beware-you-may-get-a-shock-in-2015-1.2169729

Cuellar, J., & Cuellar, J. (2014). Are Your Torrenting Days Really Over? An Update on Singapore’s Newest Law. MoneySmart.sg. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://blog.moneysmart.sg/lifestyle/are-your-torrenting-days-really-over-an-update-on-singapores-newest-law/

Straitstimes.com,. (2015). Goodbye, illegal downloads?. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/goodbye-illegal-downloads-20140711

The Huffington Post,. (2015). Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out About Canada’s ‘New’ Downloading Law. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/08/michael-geist-copyright-modernization-act_n_6436584.html

VICE,. (2015). We’re at a Turning Point in Canada for Illegal Downloading | VICE | Canada. Retrieved 3 April 2015, from http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/were-at-a-turning-point-in-canada-for-illegal-downloading-328

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2 thoughts on “Copyright or Copywrong?

  1. I think one point raised in class that would be pertinent would be how applicable are copyright laws today. according to the singapore copyright law, things are only copyrighted when they have fixation. at the same time, a lot of information online seems to be able to be used based on fair use.

    regarding piratebay, i think Singapore’s approach is to ban them, but may not be the most successful at it? (consider: there are so many alternatives including proxy torrent sites)

    i thought the recent Dalas Buyer Club saga is could be quite a good look at the issue. Singapore is known as one of the countries that has pervasive copyright infringement, and somehow, nothing is being down about it (why?).

    I also read somewhere else, about how the younger generation believe that they are entitled to everything (and hence, there is no need to credit/pay others for their work). Copyright protection has to go beyond legislature and has to effect from ground up culture to work.

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  2. @lzs1993 valid points. In regards to copyright, it seems as though this is an uphill battle, not only in Singapore, but is an issue in many places in the world, including Canada. It doesn’t seem as though anyone has found a foolproof method, and there are many gray areas when it comes to this issue. And like you said, this is especially a struggle in today’s culture where people have an attitude of entitlement. In regards to the Dalas Buyer Club saga, perhaps nothing is being done because no one is sure what they can even do? Finding a working solution seems to be tougher than it looks.

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