Canada’s largest media union is one of more than 25 organizations calling on Ottawa to stop online piracy websites from streaming stolen content and killing Canadian jobs.
“Stealing is wrong period and we need to get the word out that it’s taking money out of people’s pockets, people like me, trying to raise my kids, live and enjoy life,” said Peggy Kyriakidou, a member of Unifor local 700M.
Kyriakidou works as a hair stylist on Toronto film and TV sets, such as “Mary Kills People,”. She is one of 140,000 media workers whose jobs are threatened by piracy websites that operate anonymously in jurisdictions all over the world.
"Canadian media is losing millions of dollars to Internet piracy. Jobs are at risk if the CRTC doesn't do something to block access to illegal sites hosted on foreign soil. Twenty other countries have taken action to protect their cultural industries so why are we sitting on our hands?” said Jerry Dias, National President.
Unifor is part of FairPlay Canada, a coalition of unions and media companies from Canada’s film, TV, radio, and music industry.
FairPlay has applied to the CRTC proposing a regulatory system similar to what is used in the UK, Australia, and France to block illegal websites.
The coalition is proposing a new agency of the CRTC that would have the power to stop the most blatant piracy websites from reaching into Canadian homes. The agency would be subject to oversight by the Federal Court of Appeal.
In 2016, Canadians made 1.88 billion visits to illegal piracy sites, which make millions in advertising while undermining the creation of Canadian content.
Dias said Canada’s $8.5 billion media industry is going to continue to shrink if Ottawa doesn’t plug the leak.
“People imagine broadcasters are rolling in money, but only a handful of local TV stations in Canada turn a profit…We can’t afford to have millions stolen by pirate websites,” said Stephane Giroux, reporter for CTV Montreal and member of Unifor Local 614M.
The coalition stresses that their proposal does not contravene net neutrality. Internet providers would not have a say in which illegal sites are blocked.