Here come the filesharing lawsuits - Macleans.ca

Here come the filesharing lawsuits

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

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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