Supreme Court of Canada rules movie companies must pay to identify movie pirates

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If you download movies by way of torrents or other “free” means (not that we condone such activity here at Techaeris), it just got more expensive for movie companies to sue you. According to a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, movie companies looking to sue users for illegally downloading movies must foot the bill for the time an ISP spends to dig up the necessary information.

The case stems from Voltage Pictures LLC, the company behind Dallas Buyers Club and The Hurt Locker, launching a lawsuit against 55,000 Canadians for illegally downloading and sharing their movies. One ISP — Rogers Communications — took Voltage to court over the cost associated with having to look up the information for each individual user. While a federal court previously sided with Voltage, the Supreme Court decided that the movie studios must pay the associated costs for identifying individuals listed in the lawsuit.

“This is an important win for our customers and millions of internet subscribers facing open season on their personal information,” Rogers’ senior vice-president of regulatory affairs David Watt said in a statement.

Rogers estimated that the cost was around $50 per user, based on the time it takes to track down the proper individual based on dynamic IP usage and a $100/hr rate. Based on those numbers, it could cost Voltage an additional $2.75 million to proceed with their lawsuit. The Supreme Court has instructed the federal court to set a suitable and reasonable fee for ISPs to charge movie studios for this information.

In Canada, when a movie studio provides an ISP with a list of IP addresses that they suspect are downloading movies illegally, under Canadian copyright law, the ISP must send out a “notice-and-notice” which informs the user of said IP address that they have been notified. However, the ISP is not obligated to pass the subscriber information back to the movie studio without something called a Norwich order. While the ISP covers this cost under the current law, Rogers argued that extra time had to be spent verifying the alleged infringer’s name and address due to the use of dynamic IPs.

“It’s definitely a setback for this kind of mass litigation in Canada, and a much-needed one,”  said Howard Knopf, copyright lawyer at Ottawa firm Macera & Jarzyna LLC.

While this isn’t the end of the battle between copyright infringers, ISPs, and movie studios, it does have the potential to make it much more costly for studios to mass sue alleged infringers in the future.

As we mentioned above, while we don’t condone the illegal downloading of movies, if you do so, you definitely want to look into getting a VPN that doesn’t track or store logs like Private Internet Access while doing so.

What do you think of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision with regards to who foots the bill to identify potential copyright infringers? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

[button link=”” icon=”fa-external-link” side=”left” target=”blank” color=”285b5e” textcolor=”ffffff”]Source: Financial Post[/button]

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