Downloading and Demonoid

Yesterday's jury verdict in Minnesota is unsurprisingly generating an enormous amount of attention – a $220,000 damage award for sharing 24 songs will do that.  While Declan McCullagh and Ray Beckerman provide some good analysis about why and what next, it is worth noting that the Canadian context is very different. 

First, as CRIA itself acknowledged in a recent court filing, the private copying levy has been interpreted to extend to personal, non-commercial downloading so that the $200 million generated by the levy provides real compensation for P2P downloading.

Second, the statutory damages provision in Canada is marginally better, with the prospect that a court would never arrive at this kind of award.  Indeed, the Act allows a court to go below $200 per infringement.  Statutory damages still have no place in these kinds of cases, but at least Canadian law is a bit more reasonable.

Third, the Canadian music industry is far more divided on the issue of these lawsuits.  Indeed, Canadian musicians have come out vocally against such lawsuits as have leading labels such as Nettwerk.

These differences may help account for the fact that we have not seen file sharing suits in Canada since CRIA was soundly defeated in its attempt to sue 29 alleged file sharers several years ago.  Instead, CRIA has gone after intermediaries, as the recent demand notice against Demonoid demonstrate.  Even those claims are suspect, however, since the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that providers of equipment (including websites) are entitled to presume that their equipment will be used lawfully and therefore not rise to the level of authorizing infringement.


  1. Andrew Butash says:

    This is good news for Canadians, but my concern is how long will it stay this way in Canada? The CRIA has already come out against the private copying levy, and no doubt they’ll be trying to get rid of it and start the lawsuit brigade soon enough. Couple that with foreign record lobbies pushing for a Canadian DMCA, and we’re looking at a damn slippery slope in the near future.

  2. Jeff Andersen says:

    Instead of the usual frontpage, here is what you see if you are accessing it from a Canadian ip address:
    “We received a letter from a lawyer represeting the CRIA, they were threatening with legal action and We need to start blocking Canadian traffic because of this. If you reside in Canada, that is the reason you are being redirected to this message. Thanks for your understanding, and sorry for any inconvenience.”

    Of course, the use of a non-Canadian proxy server can circumvent this redirection. Additionally, once you have downloaded a Demonoid torrent file, the use of a proxy server in the BitTorrent client is not required.

    I wonder if it is possible for a BitTorrent tracker to limit connections based on ip address?

  3. Sarah's Shame says:

    Just a song
    I wonder what are Sarah McLachlan’s feelings about this. She is rich and fortunate meanwhile one of her poorest fan, a single mom, is forced to pay $9250 for her song copyright infringement. Totally unbalanced and out of proportion. It is frightening how difficult is to be at the end of the chain in countries where political lobbies are at the verge of dictatorship. Perhaps Sarah should write a song about that and make some more money out of it. Sufferance is always a good inspiration for a song. Just a song.

  4. RIA vs “The People”
    The inequity of such sentence is outrageous. An individual crashed by the “justice” juggernaut. It is not about copyright infringement anymore. It is about “human dignity” violation. That poor woman is not treated as an individual but as a scapegoat (she has to pay for everybody else sin). Dark age. Witches hunt. Regression.

  5. What I don’t understand
    What I have, to date, been unable to determine is if the RIAA lawyers had to prove that what she was offering was in fact those songs, or were they able to get the conviction based on the names of the songs. I remember a few years ago the RIAA dropped onto one of the P2P networks some songs that indicated the name and song title, but in fact were not that, to try to increase the amount of chaff in cyberspace.

  6. Getting rid of the private copying levy would not help matters the way the CRIA would like. Laws prohibiting private copying are inherently unenforceable anyways if you think about it for even 10 seconds. I mean, if a copy of something really was strictly for the personal use of the one who made the copy, and it occurred in the privacy of one’s own home, how would anyone else even know that it happened?

    Of course, how on earth it can be defensible that P2P file sharing is somehow for the personal use of the person making the copy is beyond me… since what you download you also share unless you completely disable all uploading (which itself usually slows download speeds also).

  7. They call it justice
    “This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK” the lead attorney for the music companies that sued the woman said after the victory.

    That is what it is all about: “sending a message”. Is that “justice”? Is that a “just” punishment? Is that even legal? Nazis were used to “send messages” killing ten innocent civilians for each German soldier killed to wear down the enemy’s resistance. Guest who is the real criminal here?

  8. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    “Making Available”
    I wonder if the courts in the USA are going to give any consideration to “unwillful sharing”, as simply having a computer that is connected to the internet could be interpeted as “Making Available”, considering how easy it is to forcefully access files on a computer connected the internet (essentially, all your files are “shared files”). They will need to draw a line as to where a person can be held accountable – does it stop at their “shared folders” or their software firewall or their hardware firewall or their owning a computer and having it connected to the internet?

    Ah well, not our problem I suppose.

  9. Seniore
    I came here to see if anyone was doing anything about the whole Demonoid-CRIA issue, the one that has been affecting my downloads for the last couple weeks or so.

    There seems to be a problem with my country’s ability to censor information, by way of threats and lawsuit; towards information it/corporations feel is illegal/immoral.

    I came to Michael Geist looking for answers, or at the very least some information regarding this old news. And what do I find? It’s article #1 baby! I see there have been some discussions regarding the effects of the censcoring, but no one really saying it out loud.

    Perhaps someone could offer up an opinion about what this whole matter means to the rights of the individual Canadian?

  10. Jean Hébert says:

    Global National\’s coverage of this story on Friday turned out to be more balanced than I\’d expected. ISPs are still not obliged to divulge the identities of their customers unless there\’s a warrant, right? That would seem to be a significant obstacle for the CRIA.

  11. UofO Poli Sci
    Let’s not forget the fact that it is not just Canadian artists that have begun to speak out against the recording associations that they sit under. There are numerous bands worldwide, including in the US that have refused to release albums with DRM protection, and others that have refused to participate in their associations lawsuits. Trent Reznor’s “steal my album” statements made in Australia can be seen as the emergence of division in musicians: those that have embraced file-sharing and technology as a means of advertising and outlet for consumer appreciation, and the other which has preferred to stick to the industries model that for every album downloaded, a potential sale was lost.

    Maybe I can get an answer to this, but what is stopping ISP’s in Canada from taking their customers to court for infringement of use agreements? It has been known that Rogers intentionally throttles and shapes traffic as a means of minimizing file-sharing, thus acknowledging that their network is being used to transfer copyright material. So what is stopping these companies from charging a penalty or service charge for breaking agreement? [and don’t say loss of customers, because for many people that cannot get DSL, Rogers is the only other choice in this monopolistic marketplace]

  12. hypocrisy
    There is lot of hypocrisy out there about file sharing. For example my cable company while ago sent me an email stating that my traffic was too elevated and that I was deteriorating the service of other customers, but then they said that purchasing the next level of service it would allow me to download up to 100GB. Now they have added an extralevel of service which allows you to download up to 150GB. You could ask “what are all those gigabytes for”?
    There are lot of companies out there that are making lot of money on file sharing. Apple and many others are making millions with their media players which depend for the majority on “illegal” file sharing. Nobody will ever admit that of course.

  13. Dwight Williams says:

    About Sarah McLachlan
    I think she’s already signed up with the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, and given her relationship with Nettwerk – whose leadership have gone on record as not being thrilled with CRIA and RIAA’s behaviour as well – my suspicion is that she is likely Not Pleased at the verdict in that particular court case.

  14. stupid quebecor says:

    give moi a break
    Fucking stupid… fucking FUCKING stupid… Yeah go canadians, the biggest fucking losers in the world…

    you and you stupid citys who can’t even be run by one person… nope, you need 18 people to act as mayor for one city…


  15. Confused Music Industry Studen says:

    Be More Specific
    After winning the lawsuit against the file-sharing from Minnesota, the RIAA are following Canada’s music business-frame and targeting threats on Usenet. It’s like a d
    The US seems to consistently follow this pattern of first doing it their way and then slowly, but surely, following their neighbor countries’ ways. They just recently targeted threats to Usenet after winning the lawsuit against Jammie Thomas. I don’t know if the RIAA’s motive now is to assimilate Canada’s and go after services rather than individuals. But I think that attacking the intermediaries will be less harsh on their negative publicity than if they continue to single-out an individual in public.
    Surely though, the US will not pick up on the private copying levy system. The concept of it doesn’t really make sense to me. How will the CRIA know if someone copied on to a blank disk for his or her personal use? Also, if the point of the levy is to compensate for the P2P services’ expenses to make file-sharing legal, then aren’t all servers and providers “used lawfully and…not rise to the level of authorizing infringement”? If they made file-sharing legal, how can it conduct infringement? I think the CRIA should be more thorough and specific with their systems. Otherwise, there is too much leeway and that will eventually build up problems.

  16. For a demonoid proxy: [ link ]

  17. Kyosho

  18. Wells
    November 29, 2007 was one of the saddest days in torrent tracker history. We miss you demonoid!!!

  19. I’m amazed how everybody points to rich artists as a rationale for downloading files. Sure, maybe Britanny can’t take it, but most artists can’t.

    Wake up, people, file sharing HURTS STRUGGLING MUSICIANS AND WRITERS.

    I know lots of authors who can barely make ends meet who are HURT by sites like demoniod. Honestly, you all should be ashamed of yourselves.