Here come the filesharing lawsuits

Voltage Pictures wants contact information for 2,000 Internet subscribers. It’s just the beginning, writes Jesse Brown

A couple of years ago, I interviewed Heritage Minister James Moore about his then-pending copyright reform bill. I suggested that it would open up the gates for big music and movie companies to sue thousands of Canadians for downloading one or two files, like the companies did to more than 30,000 U.S. citizens.

Here’s what he said:

“I don’t agree… It’s not industry’s business to go out there and sue their customers. The days of Metallica going after filesharing sites are over 10 years old. There’s a new mentality.”

News came today that Voltage Pictures has demanded that Internet service provider Teksavvy surrender the names and contact information of 2,000 subscribers. TekSavvy is refusing to rat out its customers without a court order, which is likely forthcoming. We know this because TekSavvy, a small, independent ISP with pro-privacy policies, has warned its affected customers and gone public with the details on its company blog.

What makes this case different from previous requests for customer info? “The sheer volume” of infringement claims, writes TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault.

Probable lawsuits against 2,000 downloaders could be just be the tip of the iceberg. Earlier reports revealed that Quebec company Canipre is the firm that spied on BitTorrent traffic on behalf of Voltage, and possibly other showbiz industry clients. The number of Canadian IP addresses Canipre says they caught in the act of filesharing? One million.

Suing their fans did nothing to stop the music industry’s bleeding. Yet, it persisted with the practice for years. The movie industry now seems hell-bent on following the same ruinous path. Now that Minister Moore’s copyright reform bill has been put into law, that path leads directly to the doors of Canadian citizens.

The only “new mentality” in play here is our government’s, which has decided that Canadian law should no longer shield us from the death-spasm aggression of copyright trolls.

Follow Jesse on Twitter @JesseBrown




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Here come the filesharing lawsuits

  1. Succinct as always Jesse. Makes you wonder if the industry will ever clue in.

  2. the #cpc will make everything illegal one day, just to make things as easy as possible for cops

  3. did the statutory penalty for infringement change with the new laws? If they didn’t, and if companies can set up an efficient method for getting identifying ISPs and litigating, they’re sitting on a goldmine. But if the government were to set some kind of reasonable cap on damages if you’re just doing it at home and not making $ off it (and who is these days), it might come to nothing.

    • The dollar range in penalty for statutory damages due to non-commercial infringement is $100 to $5000.

      However, Voltage is apparently seeking additional $$ by going for aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages, court cost, etc.

      For an interesting look at this, head over to http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6718/125/

      • per instance of infringing? if so, it remains the same, and my goldmine conclusion stands.

        • No – for non-commercial infringement that’s the total that can be awarded regardless of the number of instances, AFAICT.

          What’s still not clear to me is if Voltage is going to argue that these people were committing commercial infringement (which the vast, vast majority were not).

          • It may be why the number they are pursuing is just 2000 of the million. Go for the ones that look like they may be doing so for commercial gain.

          • I suspect they initially targeted just 2000 because that’s how many are TekSavvy customers. And they targeted TekSavvy because it’s a small ISP that wouldn’t have the resources to make it difficult for them even if it wanted to. Just my guess.

            I don’t see why TekSavvy customers would be more prone to commercial infringement than, say, Rogers customers.

  4. Any statement issued by any of Harper’s puppets should be assumed to be a flat out lie until reality shows otherwise. Their record with respect to honesty and answering a question meaningfully is not one to be proud of.

  5. Quebec, especially Montreal, houses a cesspool of slimy slip and fall types. This is no surprise. Call Saul!

  6. Here is his contact information:
    James Moore Minister of Heritage – 613-992-9650 (constituency office 604-937-5650).
    In case you want to follow up with an email Moore.J@parl.gc.ca

  7. From: Canada Family Action
    Sent: Monday, May 30, 2011 10:53 AM
    To: CFA Members
    Subject: Please Contact Heritage Minister James Moore
    Dear CFA Supporters,
    Last week we found that Heritage Minister James Moore approved 8.7
    million dollars to a group called FACTOR. That group funnels your tax
    dollars to a huge variety of “artists” to produce music albums
    and videos. One such album was called Holy Sh*t , with a jacket that
    described the album as The Poo Testament ( a mockery of Christianity).
    That is not acceptable but the bigger issue is the massive amount of tax
    dollar waste funnelled through the Heritage Ministry.
    Over one billion to CBC, several million to another group called Tele Film (they funnel money to “movies” like the one we opposed three years ago called Young People
    F….ing). Who knows how many more groups apply and get your tax money.
    All this continuing to occur under a “ Conservative” government and a department headed up by MP James Moore.
    I called his Ottawa office last Thursday asking two questions: what
    is the total budget for Heritage Ministry and how many employees are
    paid by Heritage department?

    To date I have had NO answer.
    I am asking all of you to call his Ottawa office and insist on some answers.
    Here is his contact information:
    James Moore Minister of Heritage – 613-992-9650 (constituency office 604-937-5650).
    In case you want to follow up with an email Moore.J@parl.gc.ca .
    Thanks for your assistance and if you get answers please let us know at info@familyaction.org .

  8. Pssst. The Hurt Locker is on Netflix. Skip the dodgy sites and torrents and just pay the $8/month for it and you won’t get any letters.

  9. Here’s a thread started by TSI on DSLreports: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r27806773-Blog-Copyright-Infringement-Lawsuit

    This comment stands out (on Page 1):

    “For the movie, be sure to read carefully what they are saying in the statement
    of Claim. They are claiming that the works were made available.. i.e. it’s not
    the downloading part they’re saying.. it’s the making it available to
    others.


    Marc – CEO/TekSavvy”

    (I hope the bold worked)

    The “making available to others” I believe allows them outskirt the damages limitation. And of course, if you are using any sort of bittorrent network, you are “making available to others” as you download.

    • In order for it to be commercial infringement, wouldn’t there have to be some kind of monetary gain? Needless to say, IANAL.

  10. I wish voltage films had made something worth watching so that I could actually boycott them.
    As it is, I’m surprised they found 2000 people who watched any of their crap.

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