ISPs in Canada Can Charge Money to Expose Pirates

  • The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor of ISPs charging compensation for exposing pirates.
  • The ruling came after ISP Rogers demanded money from Voltage Pictures for exposing tens of thousands of pirates.
  • The new ruling puts Canadian internet users at risk if they indulge in copyright infringing activities.

Movie studio Voltage Pictures has been actively going after BitTorrent users with numerous lawsuits ongoing against alleged pirates in the US, Europe, Australia, and Canada. The company has allegedly profited heavily through its lawsuits in the process. A reverse class action was filed against tens of thousands of Canadian internet users in 2016 for sharing films by the studio with the help of the country's ISPs. However, ISP Rogers did not want to hand over information of its users so easily.

Rogers demanded compensation for every IP-address lookup that was requested by Voltage Pictures. The ISP expected $100 per hour of work with added taxes. In return, they would be providing a link to subscriber accounts and their addresses.

Voltage Pictures was unhappy with the demands and took the matter to court. The Federal Court agreed to the charges and said they were permitted as per the Copyright Act, but after Voltage challenged the decision, it was reversed. Rogers transferred the case to the Supreme Court, and the ruling by the jury went in favor of the ISP 9-0. The internet provider will also be claiming expenses, but the amount has not been decided yet.

Justice Russell Brown stated that the lawsuit costs are likely to be small, but they are not negligible. He stated “While these costs, even when combined, may well be small, I would not assume that they will always be ‘negligible,’ as the Federal Court of Appeal anticipates. An ISP is entitled to the reasonable costs of steps that are necessary to discern a person’s identity.”

How the deal between Rogers and Voltage pans out can be an important deciding factor in future deals between ISPs and media industry giants when dealing with online piracy. Russia is also looking into amending its copyright laws by the end of this year which can bring similar implications.

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