Canadian creatives urge online theft action

FairPlay Canada, a coalition of Canadian artists, content creators, unions, guilds, producers, performers, broadcasters, distributors, and exhibitors is asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to take action to address the theft of digital content by illegal piracy websites.

The coalition says that jobs of hundreds of thousands of Canadians who work in the creative sector are at risk as a result of increasing online piracy, from songwriters and set builders to makeup artists and local news reporters. Payments from legitimate streaming services, broadcasters, distributors, and exhibitors help support these artists and creators.

“We know Canadians love digital content, whether it’s watching their favourite TV show or sports team, or streaming their favourite playlist online,” said Dr Shan Chandrasekar, President and CEO of Asian Television Network International Limited (ATN), who is filing the coalition’s application. “Often, they are the biggest supporters of Canada’s own creative content. However, online theft is hurting Canadians’ ability to enjoy the content they love and protect the jobs of the artists who create it.”

FairPlay Canada wants the CRTC to modernise the tools used to protect Canadian artists from online piracy. The coalition is proposing that the CRTC establish an independent agency, the Independent Piracy Review Agency (IPRA), to assist it in identifying websites blatantly engaged in content theft. The CRTC would require Canadian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to take measures to prevent such sites from reaching Canadians. The IPRA and CRTC process would be subject to oversight by the Federal Court of Appeal.

“What we are proposing has been effective in countries like the UK, France, and Australia,” added Chandrasekar. “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. We have great faith in Canadian regulators to modernise the tools available to help creators protect the content they make for Canadians’ enjoyment.”

“Digital content piracy hurts everyone, those who watch and listen to content from legal sources and those in the creative industry that produce it,” stated Randy Lennox, President, Bell Media. “Digital rights holders need up-to-date tools to combat piracy where it’s happening, on the Internet, and the process proposed by the coalition will provide just that, fairly, openly and effectively. Bell is pleased to work with our partners across the industry and the CRTC on this important step in ensuring the long-term viability of the Canadian creative sector.”

“We’re all for new ways of watching content, but piracy means that the content creators don’t get paid for their work,” added Rick Brace, President, Rogers Media. “We believe this proposal represents a balanced and proven approach that goes after the people who illegally rebroadcast content.  Taking action against piracy will ensure we can continue making and broadcasting the programming that Canadians love, while protecting the jobs of the Canadians who create it.”

FairPlay Canada is a coalition of more than 25 organisations representing every aspect of Canada’s film, TV, radio, sports entertainment, and music industries, including: Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), Association québecoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle, et de la video (ADISQ), Asian Television Network (ATN), Association québécoise de la production médiatique (AQPM), Bell, Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters (CAFDE), CBC / Radio-Canada, Les Cinémas Ciné Entreprise Inc., Cinémas Guzzo, Cineplex, Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), Cogeco Connexion,  Corus, Directors Guild of Canada (DGC), DHX Media, Entertainment One, Ethnic Channels Group, Fairchild Media Group, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Landmark Cinemas, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), Movie Theatre Association of Canada (MTAC), Quebecor, Rogers Media, Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), TIFF, Unifor, and Union des artistes (UDA).

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