Since last year, Voltage Pictures, the makers of Hurt Locker, have been working with the Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver law firm (better known as the U.S. Copyright Group) to target Internet users who allegedly shared their Oscar-winning movie online.
Give us thousands of dollars in settlement, they say, and we won’t ruin your life with an expensive lawsuit.
Last month Voltage exported their scheme north to Canada and through the Federal Court in Montreal the obtained an order which forced three Canadian ISPs – Bell Canada, Cogeco Cable Inc. and Videotron GP – to hand over the personal details of subscribers Voltage claim infringed their copyrights.
Following a review of the IP addresses provided to the first ISP, Bell Canada (shown below), an eyebrow-raising nugget of information has come to light.
The third IP on the list – 188.8.131.52 – looks much like any other. It is accused of sharing the movie using uTorrent v184.108.40.206 on May 4th 2011, and in itself that is nothing unusual. But further investigation shows that this particular IP address has a rather famous owner.
The big question now is whether Goudreau Gage Dubuc LLP, the law firm hired by Voltage to carry out their Canadian shakedown, will send their usual settlement demands to Montreal Canadiens. If they do, this could get very interesting indeed.
It is highly likely that many individuals are able to obtain Internet access via 217.canadiens.com, the domain from which the infringement was allegedly logged. The problematic issue of pinning an infringement to an individual on a multiple access IP was highlighted perfectly in the Swedish Film Institute case recently. Furthermore, Montreal Canadiens have very, very deep pockets and lawyers on tap.
Hockey fans and opponents of these copyright shakedowns will be hoping that this particular Hurt Locker timebomb is dealt with by Canadiens via a boarding or their enforcer, rather than being subjected to an empty net goal, as Voltage might prefer.