A new copyright ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada will make it more expensive for content rights holders to sue Canadians accused of distributing pirated movies.
The Supreme Court of Canada sided with internet service providers in a legal battle between Rogers Communications Inc. and Voltage Pictures LLC over who should foot the bill to track down the people accused of illegally sharing movies on peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent.
In a decision released Friday, the top court found that internet service providers are entitled to recover costs of finding and disclosing an alleged infringer’s personal information. But it sent the matter back to a lower court to figure out how much that process actually costs – a price tag that, once determined, could make it prohibitive to sue people suspected of illegal file sharing.
The ruling stems from an attempt by Voltage, the movie production studio behind films including The Dallas Buyers Club and The Hurt Locker, to sue 55,000 individuals at once for alleged copyright infringement in a reverse class action lawsuit. It uses software called MaverickEye to identify the IP address used at the time one of its movies is uploaded over BitTorrent.
Under Canada’s notice-and-notice copyright regime implemented in 2015, Voltage can ask internet service providers to send the account holder assigned to the IP address a notice warning them to stop infringing or face legal consequences. The internet service provider must pay for this part of the process.
But in order to find the identities of the John and Jane Does it accuses of infringement, Voltage must get court orders called Norwich orders that demand internet service providers find and send them the name and address of the account holder of the IP address accused of infringement.