A study of BitTorrent users has revealed that Canadians are fourth in the world for “unauthorized music downloads.” Canada follows the United States, Britain and Italy in terms of overall numbers, but on a per capita basis the Great White North is actually number one.
In fact, on a per-person basis Canada downloads nearly two and a half times as many “unauthorized songs” as Americans in the first half of the year. There was a total of 23.95 million downloads in Canada and 96.68 million in the U.S.
A number of copyright lawsuits have emerged in the United States over music piracy, but Canada hasn’t faced as many. The U.S. has pressured Canada for a more aggressive approach to the subject. With tracking violators a relatively easy matter, it may only be a matter of time before Canada steps it up and cracks down.
The Copyright Act of Canada was consolidated into Canadian law in 1921, with the adaptation of various statutes of British law working their way in. In 1997, the Copyright Act passed a provision that ensured the legality of copying copyrighted musical works for personal use. By 2003, Canada formed the Copyright Board to establish levies and taxes on blank media used for copying. The Board also established the legality of using peer-to-peer networks for obtaining copyrighted material, although it did not function as a court and the Canadian Recording Industry Association vehemently disagreed with its suggestions. Still, the Board’s decisions were to be used as guideposts in court filings.
With these regulations in place, Canada has gained a reputation for being a veritable hotbed of filthy, rotten downloaders. “Overall the piracy picture in Canada is at least as bleak as it was a year ago, and it is cementing its reputation as a haven where technologically sophisticated international piracy organizations can operate with virtual impunity,” wrote the International Intellectual Property Alliance in 2011.
Canada is still the odd duck out on a global international copyright treaty, something that bothers the industry immensely. The country saw a 7.4 percent drop in music sales in 2009 and those numbers haven’t improved. In fairness, the numbers have dropped in many other countries as well (U.S. music sales fell by 7.2 percent in the same period) and the recession may have a lot to do with what people are doing with discretionary funds. The industry suggests otherwise, noting that countries like the U.K. and Brazil saw a rise in sales – something they credit to tighter legal restrictions on downloading.