On October 18th 2007 we wrote about the situation faced by a couple of Canadian BitTorrent trackers being threatened by the recording industry there. One of them, the 46,000 member QuebecTorrent was being targeted by a coalition of four recording labels.
Since then the situation has grown much more serious and it is feared that this case could have implications for all Canadian hosted torrent sites. There are quite a few big sites hosted in Canada (IsoHunt and TorrentBox to name just two) and with LeaseWeb kicking out torrent sites en masse, it’s thought that there is the potential for a lot more to be hosted there in the future. Demonoid has already been effectively kicked out of Canada – so what now?
TorrentFreak spoke with QuebecTorrent and their legal team at Lecours & Lessard, MontrÃ©al to find out exactly what is happening with this case and how it affects the rest of the P2P community.
TF: Who exactly is taking legal action against QuebecTorrent?
QT: 31 records / video producers and copyright holders associations (including companies like Sony BMG Music Canada, Universal Music Canada and EMI Group Canada), are suing QuebecTorrent, through Mr. Sebastien Brulotte, administrator of the website.
TF: These companies tried to get a preliminary injunction to shut the site. What’s happening with that?
QT: We contested yesterday the Plaintiffs’ motion to obtain a preliminary injunction order. Through this motion, the plaintiffs asked the Court to order the suspension of the QuebecTorrent website or, barring which, to freeze all Torrent files giving access to protected works available through the website. In this case the Court rejected the Plaintiff’s demands.
TF: Apart from trying to get an injunction, what else are these companies trying to gain against QuebecTorrent?
QT: Their vision of what constitutes a Peer to Peer website is rather limited. They present Peer to Peer and QuebecTorrent solely as pirates that deliberately infringe upon copyrights and are harmful to the music industry. On the merits of the case, they ask that the injunction order be made permanent and ask for the condemnation of QuebecTorrent for the sum of $200,000.00 in punitive damages.
TF: They are claiming this large sum from QuebecTorrent yet there are many other larger torrent sites in Canada right now. Why are they picking on QuebecTorrent?
QT: They chose QuebecTorrent as a target because, as they said, they could not find the name and address of any other Canadian torrent website administrator.
TF: Closing one site isn’t going to get them very far. Do they have any other objectives other than to crush QuebecTorrent?
QT: Their indirect objective seems to make a jurisprudential precedent of QuebecTorrent, applicable to all Peer to Peer websites. If an eventual decision would condemn QuebecTorrent, it would effectively create a jurisprudential precedent in Canadian law , as this judgment would constitute the first jurisprudence in this matter, it would set out the applicable law to all BitTorrent websites in Canada.
TF: Thank you for explaining the significance of this case to us. Good luck and please keep us informed.
The reason that LeaseWeb is kicking BitTorrent sites off its servers right now is because of a June ruling against a small, relatively unknown Dutch site called Everlasting.nu. The parallels to this case appear pretty obvious – beat up a little guy that few people know about and use that reputation to knock out the big guys you couldn’t have beaten so easily without the precedent.
There are many other complications that ensure that this situation remains fluid, but with the Netherlands looking less attractive by the day and the Canadian torrent situation looking far from stable, will administrators look to the East for their hosting or will they drop anchor at Sweden’s PRQ? According to their front page, PRQ are currently completely out of dedicated servers to rent but they are promising more capacity in a few weeks.
Hiring lawyers (in this case Lecours & Lessard, 354, rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Bureau 100, MontrÃ©al, Qc H2Y-1T9, Canada) isn’t cheap so anyone wishing to support QuebecTorrent, should consider visiting their donation page. They send a message of gratitude to those who have already donated to help them get this far and a reminder to everyone else that without donations they cannot defend themselves.
Stay tuned. It’s going to be an interesting Christmas in Torrent Land….