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U.S. Company Goes After Illegal Downloaders
Kristen Morris
Kristen Morris

There is an interesting case winding it way through the Canadian Court system. Voltage Pictures, a large U.S. movie studio (they produced Hurt Locker) brought a proceeding late last year in our Federal Court with the goal of eventually forcing Canadian Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”), to reveal IP addresses (the unique addresses which can identify users) who are illegally downloading movies etc. One ISP, Teksavvy, has intervened (received permission from the court to argue against this). The case is commonly known as Voltage vs John Doe and Jane Doe (at the time they started the action, they did not know the names of the defendant downloaders). Canadians are apparently known to be prolific downloaders. Voltage not only wants to stop certain downloaders but also deter others from similar piracy. I suppose the good news is that the penalties for those that get caught downloading non-commercial content are much less in Canada than south of the border (maximum of $5,000 regardless of the number of infringements vs. $150,000 per infringement in the U.S.). This is courtesy of the recent Canadian copyright law, the Copyright Modernization Act. This case has polarized the debate between movie producers who want copyright protection for their property and individuals who feel it is their privacy is at stake, some of whom think they have a God given right to download any content they can get their hands on. Also, as a related issue, ISPs are worried that they will get dragged into court and forced to pay out legal fees to try to prevent orders being made to divulge alleged IP addresses of their file sharing customers. Some are concerned that, in the long term, the smaller ISPs will be at a disadvantage compared to the larger ISPs with better resources. Stay tuned. Michael Cobb is a lawyer at the law firm of Cobb & Jones LLP. Should you have any questions for Ask A Lawyer, please direct them to the Simcoe Reformer or ask a lawyer of your choice. For more articles, visit the Library page at