Canadian internet service provider TekSavvy has found itself in the crosshairs of U.S.-based movie studio Voltage Pictures LLC. The ISP announced on Monday that it had received a request on behalf of the studio to provide subscriber information on "a couple thousand" of its users that the studio alleges have downloaded or shared such films as The Whistleblower, Balls to the Wall, Fire with Fire, and others. According to court filings, Voltage secured the services of Canadian digital forensics firm Canipre, to monitor traffic on BitTorrent between September 1 and October 30, 2012, and look for activity related to any of its films.
"In simple terms, the distributors are facilitating the flagrant theft of the works by others, on an international scale," Voltage claimed in its December 7 court filing, also noting that it planned to bring a legal action in the Toronto court December 17.
But TekSavvy isn't going to comply without a fight. The ISP says it will stand up to the lawsuit and that it has informed those affected customers about it. It also notes that it has not “provided any information to Voltage" and that it would only do so if it is compelled by a court order to do so.
"The sheer volume of copyright infringement claims that Voltage is pursuing against individuals at one time is what’s different in this case," TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault wrote on the company’s blog on Monday. "The file provided by Voltage contains a couple thousand of IP addresses, which we will not be making public for obvious reasons. This very large volume has posed many challenges for us as we have tried to determine which of our customers could be affected and how to give them notice in the most efficient and timeliest manner possible."
"It will also likely pose challenges for the court dealing with the claims as it decides on how to deal with both the provision of notice of the claims to potential defendants and the processing of the actual claims of infringement. We are unable to find any similar case of this scale."
Well known Canadian technology law expert Michael Geist says that Voltage may not get as much money from TekSavvy customers as it might hope to thanks mostly to Canada’s new copyright law (known as C-11), which went into effect last month. C-11 categorizes infringement as "commercial" infringement (maximum liability of CAN$20,000 per infringement) and "noncommercial" infringement (maximum liability of CAN$5,000 total). And because the law allows judges discretion in how much damages a rights holder can collect from an individual, Voltage could walk away with as little as CAN $100 per infringement.
“While CAN$5,000 is still very expensive for a downloaded movie, the law permits judges to award damages as low as CAN$100 in such cases,” he noted in a recent Toronto Star column. "In fact, the law instructs judges to consider 'in the case of infringements for non-commercial purposes, the need for an award to be proportionate to the infringements, in consideration of the hardship the award may cause to the defendant, whether the infringement was for private purposes or not, and the impact of the infringements on the plaintiff.'"
Source: Ars Technica