Bell Calls for Blocking and Criminalization of Copyright

Bell Canada has called on the government to support copyright and broadcast distribution reforms as a part of the NAFTA renegotiations.

The carrier’s proposal includes the creation of a CRTC-backed website blocking system and the criminalization of copyright. Bell is also supporting an overhaul of the current retransmission system for broadcasters.

Specifically, the company wants to support a “consent mode” that would keep U.S. stations out of the Canadian market or significantly increase their cost of entry.

Bell articulated its position at this week’s hearing of the Standing Committee on International Trade on NAFTA. Representatives from Rogers were also present at the meeting, and they took a quite different approach to how copyright changes should be handled.

Rogers believes that any changes to copyright law should be conducted in an open and public process. In contrast, Bell believes that the government should take a secretive approach to changing these laws.

So how does Bell envision this to work? When asked, a representative from the company said:

Our view on how we solve the piracy problem is it is not sort of coming up with new technological measures, it’s blocking access to piracy. How do you do that? We would like to see measures put in place whereby all Internet service providers are required to block consumer access to pirated websites. In our view, that is the only way to stop it. So you would mandate all ISPs across the country to essentially block access to a black list of egregious piracy sites. That would be job number one.

In our view it would be an independent agency that would be charged with that task. You certainly would not want ISPs acting as censors as to what content is pirate content. But, surely, an independent third party agency could be formed, could create a black list of pirate sites and then the ISPs would be required to block it. That is at a high level how we would see it unfolding, perhaps overseen by a regulator like the CRTC.

Bell would like the CRTC to police these allegations of copyright infringement and oversee the new website that manages the block list. The proposals by Bell indicate that the company’s position of being a common carrier that represents the concerns of all Canadian ISPs is over.

[via Michael Geist]