Following an important court ruling last week, thousands of Canadians are now at risk of being exposed to mass BitTorrent lawsuits. That’s the message from the boss an anti-piracy outfit who says is company has been monitoring BitTorrent networks for infringements and has amassed data on millions of users. The court ruling involved just 50 Canadians but another case on the horizon involves thousands of alleged pirates.
As reported here on TorrentFreak every other week, copyright trolls are alive and well in the United States and Europe.
“Pay us a cash settlement,” the trolls advise, “or we’ll make your life a misery.”
While Canadians are known for their love of online file-sharing, in contrast they have engaged in their pastime largely unhindered for more than a decade. But a court ruling last week has the potential to change the landscape in the largely sharing-tolerant country.
The case involves NGN Prima Productions Inc, a Canadian company active in the US copyright troll scene gathering cash settlements from alleged sharers of its action movie “Recoil.”
Not content with trolling within the confines of the U.S., recently NGN filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court in Montreal.
The company claimed that data collected by anti-piracy company Canipre between September 1 and October 31 showed that 50 IP addresses allocated to four ISPs – 3 Web Corp., Access Communications Co-Operative Ltd., ACN Inc., and Distributel Communications Ltd – had engaged in copyright infringement of Recoil.
To this end, the ISPs should be ordered to hand over the names and addresses of the subscribers in question so that NGN could pursue them for damages, the company insisted.
On Monday November 19 the Federal Court in Montreal granted the request and ordered the four ISPs to hand over the data within two weeks, in Microsoft Excel format and encrypted on a CD.
Barry Logan, managing director of Canipre, says that this event marks the beginning of serious copyright enforcement in Canada. He claims that over the past five months his company has collected data on one million Canadians engaged in BitTorrent sharing and the decision of the Federal Court means that each one could face a damages claim in court.
Of course, what these individuals will actually receive is a letter from Logan’s paymasters at the movie and music studios asking them to settle the case for cash instead. It will come as no surprise that Canipre also works with the porn industry.
“I don’t think we have to limit this to just teenagers downloading Justin Bieber’s last record,” he said. “We represent a lot of mature titles that would be of interest to the 30/40/50 crowd.”
But while the United States has punishing statutory damages of $150,000 per item infringed, non-commercial statutory damages in Canada are capped at CAD$5000 ($5,038 US) meaning the fear factor will be considerably smaller.
Will Canadians feel compelled to pay? We may soon find out.