Hurt Locker File Sharing Lawsuits Put the Hurt on Everyone

File sharing lawsuits involving the movie the Hurt Locker have been big news in the United States for months as tens of thousands of lawsuits have been filed against individuals alleged to have illegally downloaded the movie. The lawsuits have now made their way into Canada as the Federal Court of Canada has ordered the identification of subscribers at Bell Canada, Cogeco, and Videotron who face similar copyright infringement claims.  

Late last month the court ordered the three ISPs to disclose the names and addresses of subscribers linked to IP addresses alleged to have copied the movie. The ISPs complied last week as lawyers for the Hurt Locker copyright owner moved to have their case treated as a “specially managed proceeding” that would put the case on a rocket docket.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues the lawsuits hurt seemingly everyone.

The dozens of targeted Canadians will feel the greatest pain given the prospect of paying thousands of dollars in copyright damages, settlement fees, or legal costs for downloading a single movie. Canada is in the distinct minority of countries worldwide since it has statutory damages that allow a court to impose damages as high as $20,000 per infringement irrespective of the actual damages (most countries require evidence of the actual damages).  

The targeted individuals will therefore face two unappealing options: settle the lawsuit for thousands of dollars (U.S. cases typically settle for approximately US$4000) or spend thousands in legal fees to fight the claim with the risk of a $20,000 damage award looming at the end. Even if a court awards far less (or the defendant wins), the legal costs will still likely be larger than simply settling the case.

The movie industry also comes out a loser in this case since file sharing lawsuits have done little to curb copyright infringement. Indeed, the experience in other jurisdictions demonstrates that offering reasonably priced, legal alternatives is a far better method of persuading the public to move from free to fee.

Moreover, the lawsuits now make the industry look untrustworthy given its earlier insistence that it had no plans to launch file sharing claims in Canada. At a House of Commons hearing earlier this year, NDP MP Charlie Angus specifically asked industry representatives about the prospect of Hurt Locker lawsuits migrating north. Their response: “We’re not interested in sweeping up the John Does.” Despite those assurances, months later dozens of Canadians have had their personal information disclosed and face thousands in liability.

The Internet providers look bad here as well. Bell Canada, Videotron, and Cogeco have acknowledged revealing their subscribers’ information, maintaining that they simply complied with a valid court order. Yet when the music industry launched similar lawsuits several years ago, providers such as Shaw and Telus raised concerns before the court could issue the order. In doing so, they ensured that the court considered the privacy implications of mandated disclosure and gave the individuals an opportunity to challenge the industry’s demands. In this instance, the three providers stood quietly on the sidelines, leaving their subscribers without representation.

Finally, the government now finds itself in a bind. Already facing Wikileaks disclosures that demonstrate U.S. influence over its copyright bill, it must now also address public concern that current Canadian law could lead to thousands of similar lawsuits.

Bill C-32 tried to address the issue by creating a $5,000 cap on liability for non-commercial infringement, yet the Hurt Locker case suggests that does not go far enough. A better approach would be to eliminate statutory damages in non-commercial cases altogether. That change, which would bring Canada into line with most of its trading partners, would allow for full $20,000 per infringement liability for commercial infringement, while requiring claimants to offer evidence of actual damages in non-commercial cases.


  1. An IP is not a person
    Assuming that all the software used to collect the IPs has been demonstrated never produce false positives, at best an IP identifies the NAT.

    – What if the customer has an open wifi access point?
    – What if the cable modems MAC address had been cloned? This happens and is not easily detectable.
    – What if the IP leads to a coffee shop or a frat house?
    – What if that NAT serves many people? Possibly dozens or hundreds?
    – What if a visitor came by and connected to the network?
    – What if there is trojan, virus or worm on a computer beyond the NAT? This is very common on Windows computers.
    – What if the wifi is secured with WEP (they’ve made an effort) and is easily crackable?
    – What if the customer allow all their devices to searched, and the file isn’t found?
    – What if you let someone borrow your modem for a weekend?

    These aren’t minor problems.

    In my mind, to even meet the standard of evidence equal to a speeding ticket, you’d have to have a witness, or photographic evidence of that person clicking on the torrent download and allowing it to complete. And that’s never going to happen.

  2. Reasonable damages
    I’d argue that if you are going to accept that something as vague as an IP is sufficient to identify the accused, the damages should reflect that uncertainty.

    It doesn’t seem right to sue for $20,000 in a case of non-commercial infringement when you cannot even positively identify the accused. However, if the fine was on the order of $100-400, the standard of evidence would not need to be so high.

  3. Patrice Lapointe says:

    @Eric Hacke
    I totally agree with you: an IP is not a person. Alas it doesn’t matters as it may cost thousands just to take those arguments in a courtroom. Believe me, as sad as it is, people will settle: justice is unaffordable.

    Patrice Lapointe

  4. No Shaw
    Interesting that there is no SHAW on the list of ISP court order. I also noticed that during the Parliamentary hearings that SHAW was also absent from the list of speakers.

    I think I’m going to switch from Telus to Shaw. (Seems Shaw cares)

  5. “A better approach would be to eliminate statutory damages in non-commercial cases altogether.”

    I agree. The hurt locker lawsuits in the US were pretty much all dropped according to the wikki on the movie title. Value Chains are present and viable for industry to presue on P2P. I hope the below information gets it’s day in Canadian courts:

  6. As I’m sure Professor Geist knows perfectly well, damages will not be $20,000 as this is the maximum. But aside from this misrepresentation, the problem I have with this article is that it says it’s unfair to allow statutory damages. That issue was debated extensively nearly 15 years ago. To require proof of actual damages will result in consequence-free infringement. And to say that the solution is to reduce prices so that people won’t be tempted to infringe is not far short of saying that shoplifting is ok if you can’t afford the goods

  7. Dozens only ?
    How can there be only dozens in Canada when this was the Academy Awards big winner and we are talking Bell Canada, Cogeco and Videotron ?? How where these people picked by the ISPs ?

  8. Hey! Stop sitting on the Xerox, I need to use it …
    Regardless of possible accusations of hyperbole I will call this for what it is … extortion. As most US judges have essentially come to the same conclusion I am not alone here.

    It is also evident that just as these schemes are being quashed in the USA they have spotted open virgin waters to the north. As the Canadian government is considering reintroduction of C-32 they should be cognizant of current issues and occurances, it will be a shame if they just put out a photocopy.

  9. Patrice Lapointe says:

    You seem to take for granted that all the targeted individuals are actually guilty. As we’ve seen in the US, identifying John Does from their IP address is not “perfect science”. Innocent people will eventually receive settlement letters. Some of them will even pay the “bill” to stay out of trouble. This is why I consider this as “legal extortion”: defending yourself potentially cost more than settling.

  10. @Bob, “…that allow a court to impose damages as high as $20,000 per infringement irrespective of the actual damages (most countries require evidence of the actual damages).” I think the article makes it quite clear that $20K is a maximum and may not necessarily what will or will try to be imposed in this case. However, I will admit that I am not knowledgable on what sort of formulation is used to determine stat damages or what measures are in place to prevent someone from just asking for the maximum amount (especially when one doesn’t need to prove the actual damage amount).

    “To require proof of actual damages will result in consequence-free infringement.” This is a very odd statement, please explain. How does the collection of proof of the monetary amount from infringement result in a consequence-free environment? Is it that the amount of actual damages are not enough to warrant pursuit? Does the cost to collect proof outweigh the amount of actual damage? Wouldn’t this be a logical step in requiring proof of actual infringement? You know, to prevent consequence-free accusations and litigations of infringement?

  11. @Bob
    “To require proof of actual damages will result in consequence-free infringement.”

    So what you are saying here is that there are no actual damages in P2P file sharing. Good glad you admitted to this. There’s actual research to back this up too. Canadian courts would be very reluctant to even provide stat damages if no actual damages can be proven anyway. Probably the main reason why these Hurt Locker suits were all dropped in the US!

  12. ConcernedCanadian says:

    @Eric Hacke

    I’m interested about the implications of most of your questions. I own and operate a restaurant into which I give free Wi-Fi access to my customers from my home broadband access. Several thousands people come into my establishment, some with laptops, some with Iphones/Ipads and I even noticed a few times some are staying in their car with a computers. I want to reach people eating outside as well so the reach is pretty wide.

    That being said; I’m now wondering if I will someday get one of these letters, for HL or some other film, and that it will simply be a client with uTorrent working in the background who did some P2P while in my restaurant?

    Additional issues from the other HL thread like the missing english soundtrack on this particular DVD distributed in Quebec is also a good concern. They could be suing someone who DID purchase the movie but only downloaded the missing soundtrack… how’s that for extortion…

    I own a few ‘000 vinyls and about 500 CDs and when this non-sense began 10-15 years ago in the US it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I severely slowed my music acquisition even if we’re ‘allowed’ to download music in Canada. The idea of feeding these bloodsuckers is too much. I only buy CDs from artist I really like and when possible I buy and download directly from the artist’s site. I have a big enough library to listen to my old stuff.

    While this was going on 10-15 years ago, the movie industry was just watching. Now that they are doing the same; I have the same bad taste in my mouth. I own maybe 100 VHS, 250 DVDs and maybe 30 BluRay and I rent 2-3 movies per week and go to the cinema maybe once a month on average. If they disgust me enough, I will probably shift part of my entertainment money somewhere else, I’ve already done it in the past… Netflix is now available in Canada…

    Speaking of entertainment money; this is, for most people, a finite amount of money that they are already spending. You could totally eliminate piracy tomorrow and most people would still spend the same amount of money on their entertainment. In the end, they can’t invent money that people don’t have and argue that every download is a lost sale. They already know that and the only thing they are trying to do is to get your food, car and kid’s education money. Money they would not have had in the first place. That’s how they invent money!

  13. @MikeB
    I have to agree with Bob, and the reason is in fact quite simple.

    In essence copyright infringement is similar to tort law, in that we are not talking here about a criminal act, rather an action prejudicial against an individual or organization. For instance, in a defamation case the accuser does not need to prove that some reader or listener actually believed the claims or statements and changed their mind based on them (actual damages); defamation occurs regardless of whether or not any actual damage occurred. To extend this concept to copyright, to me, is not that big a stretch.

    To me there needs to be a scale of punishments based on if the violation was inadvertant and if they made the work available to others. By inadvertant I mean that the accused copied the work either accidentally or had an honest belief that the use was legal. At the lowest end is the inadvertant with no propagation. In this situation it could be as simple as a warning. At the other end we have intentional violation with propagation. I place this as close to a commercial violation, as the accused knew they were violating the rights of another and chose to ignore that. In this situation I could in fact see a case could be made to have the fines approaching commercial violation. In this situation I would also stipulate that the onus would be on the accused to prove that the violation was intentional and that the work was propagated (mind you, in this situation making it available on a file sharing site would be sufficient if the site required you to actively make the work available).

  14. Some good points @ConcernedCanadian re. your existing collection and recent buying habits. Data has already shown that music/movie downloaders are still the biggest consumers of commercial media (ie. they buy more stuff than regular consumers). What other businesses out there attacks their consumers? It’s just such weird stupid situation we have got into in these relatively early days of digital media. Unfortunately, our mostly ignorant courts, government and bureaucracy are playing into their hands.

    It’s obvious now that large media are holding on for dear life to old business models and really don’t have the imagination to counter act. It’s also disconcerting that they are attacking downloaders not of blockbusters but of smaller independent films? What the hell is the strategy there? Certainly it won’t gain any fans.

    The really stupid thing for us here in Canada is that we are the last to get any real alternative to downloading music or movies (e.g. digital streaming services). Moreover when those alternatives arrive (Netflix) they are crippled by our asinine licensing groups in Canada.

  15. The balance is somewhere between Geist and MPAA…
    “A better approach would be to eliminate statutory damages in non-commercial cases altogether. That change, which would bring Canada into line with most of its trading partners, would allow for full $20,000 per infringement liability for commercial infringement, while requiring claimants to offer evidence of actual damages in non-commercial cases.”

    This doesn’t work. It may be the “more fair” approach for the typical person who downloads movies for personal enjoyment, but it does not address this issue of theft of property. Take for example, I have a friend who regularly downloads movies from some torrent site, and brings them in to work in a big binder where he lends them out to a dozen or so co-workers. He does not charge for this, so by your logic, would be exempt from the commercial infringement penalties. The MPAA would have difficulty proving ACTUAL damages, but a bit of common sense will tell you that the people borrowing those movies aren’t going out and paying to view them somewhere else. And I don’t think this is an uncommon practice. Kids download things for their parents and friends to watch, on a regular basis. I know many people who don’t think twice about downloading whatever, whenever, regardless of the fact that they can pay 4 lousy bucks to get it legally from iTunes, Netflix or similar.
    Your approach might work, if the CULTURE hadn’t already changed to make these behaviors acceptable.
    I used to despise those annoying ads at the start of movies, espousing the harm that music or movie theft was having: “…you wouldn’t steal a CD…” Unfortunately, on the scale its occurring today, I think they may have been right.
    Ultimately, I think a small-ish statutory fine ($100-400) for downloading something would be sufficient deterrence to these behaviors. The movie / music industry has to do their part too, and make the films available with REASONABLE pricing and accessibility. And lets face it, we can all imagine ways where someone accessed / hacked into our Wi-Fi access point, and illicitly used our connection to surf / download content… But come on… ISP or MPAA sends out a single warning, after which they charge you? How many of us WHO AREN’T INFRINGING wouldn’t lock that access point down tighter than Scrooge at Christmas? What I’m getting at is that after a warning, an IP address should be enough “proof” to charge the owner of that address.

  16. The Darwin awards …
    @ConcernedCanadian “You could totally eliminate piracy tomorrow and most people would still spend the same amount of money on their entertainment”

    You touch on a number of points I often put forward. As you say, there is only a finite amount of money people will spend on entertainment and I suspect that most people will spend that full allotment as personal pleasure is a strong motivator.

    The real problem is the allotment of those funds, does it go mostly to the creators or to the distributors of said works? Sometimes those are one and the same, and increasingly so, but the most ‘noise of piracy and doom’ out there comes from incumbent industries that already paid off their producers with pennies. These are the ones lobbying for laws to protect their stale business models & interests for the shareholders all the while beating the drum of the ‘starving artist’, shameful really. The **AA’s are no more concerned with the individual artist than GE is concerned with a single linesman, they are both driven by the boardroom.

    We are now in an era where artistic expression can return to more of it’s personal nature while still having the ability to be widely disseminated. The need for the big production machine is no more as technology has produced cheap mass distribution and social networking has expanded ‘word of mouth’ to the world.

    Strangely enough I fail to see the artistic community’s embrace of this new paradigm. For one its inevitable, but even more so it should produce better both art and even financial returns for the artists.

    Let me expand on that premise, as word of mouth will be the driving ‘promoter’ it will push the best talent to the top, not the canned fluff that is often dressed up for the masses. This will not only reward true talent but will also be an enrichment to society as we experience the best our culture can offer.

    Similarly, a greater selection of works will become available and, because of the dynamics of social networking, be more easily found by fans of the different genres It is well known that genre fans are the ones who remain loyal, and loyal fans support their artists. Direct support from loyal fans will be a bigger windfall to artists than a few pennies from the hungry suits.

    Some will say this is an idealistic view, and yes I must admit to being an optimist, but neither the old models gasping for breadth nor the antagonistic environment we find ourselves in generated from that same fallout, is serving anyone well.

    Lawsuits, trolling, lobbying are all last breadth efforts of a dying animal, but evolution is ready to improve the species.

  17. @Anon-K
    I agree that actual damages can not be reasonably determined, just as in a defamation case. More thought needs to be put into what to award for even intentional infringement. Most any non-MAFIAA member will agree that $20,000 per infringement is asinine for any non-commercial case.

    A just law should discourage people from infringing, but also discourage the industry from extorting. If we must have one or the other, IMHO, it’s preferable to prevent extortion only. I’d rather have a society where there is no longer money to be made in the arts industry via sale of recordings (and see what kind of interesting cultural revolution ensues), than have our legal system further abused by corporations.

  18. I don't know anymore, but says:

    THIS is the solution
    The solution is to put a cap on damages, like the new copyright bill does, and then to ENFORCE that cap with the new legal access law (so you can get your “pay-up” letter from a trusted source, not a crook.)

    Of course, people will just use privacy to break information laws from now on. UNTIL the next set of laws, forbidding privacy.

    Meanwhile, In Other News:
    Global companies are growing increasingly worried that Thailand’s “legal access” law is being used to police the Web for political content, which will then drag down the country’s economic potential and make it more difficult to expand there.

  19. Since copyright extremists always insist infringement is stealing
    why not a fine similar to what you might pay for first time shoplifting.
    I believe that would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 to $250.

  20. @Samuel
    I’m not one of them, but can tell you the extremists argue the difference is: shoplifters don’t take their loot, replicate it, and give it to 100s of their friends.

    Extremists want to view it as stealing, but they also want to view it as copying. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

  21. Ouch!
    @Bob “And to say that the solution is to reduce prices so that people won’t be tempted to infringe is not far short of saying that shoplifting is ok if you can’t afford the goods”

    Actually, its more like saying ‘Price an item and make it appealing enough where people find value and be tempted to purchase your wares’.

    A hard loaf of bread that’s hard to cut into at $10, take it leave it, not only puts a bad taste in peoples mouths it actually does little to produce regard for the baker. The stocked full food bank down the street offering that newfangled sliced bread is so much more convenient … and tasty.

    Because media is an industry regulated by continually stricter copyright (yet another 20 year extension for industry profits), and a newly ‘unregulated distribution system’, it no longer operates in a truly free market environment. As such it does not properly react to the laws of supply and demand, but rather to the value placed on it by the public.

    Both of these issues are pointy ends of the same stick making each other bleed. We simply need a new stick … or a bowl, or a pot of flowers.

  22. Public Service says:

    Crockett, I find your posts to be both informative and amusing. Keep it up!

  23. Time for a reality check?
    Isn’t the law, our society, supposed to be just and reasonable? How is it reasonable that this offense carries anything higher than a $50-150 fine and can’t follow the same process as a photo radar ticket. Get your fine via mail, pay it or go to court and argue it. This nonsense is only going to give people more reason to have contempt and distrust of the entertainment industry.

    I find the whole conversation regarding copyright reform ludicrous especially because of these types of penalties and ESPECIALLY because the answer is so simple. Piracy is a result of market forces and adjustments to the market need to be made, NOT through legislation.

  24. Mr. Harper, pay attention …

    We already have Coronation Street … need we any more soap opera?

  25. You know. BillG has it right, “Data has already shown that music/movie downloaders are still the biggest consumers of commercial media (ie. they buy more stuff than regular consumers).” Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

    I have admitted several times on her that I have a lot of downloaded movies and TV shows. I didn’t download most of them myself, but I have them non-the-less. But, you know what? I also have a vastly larger media collection than anyone else I know. Upwards of 800 CDs + purchased downloaded albums, over 1300 DVD/BD movies. I could even go further with over 600 audio tapes and approximately 250 VHS movies. I have a whole room in my house solely dedicated to storing my media.

    You know what else the downloaded content does? It reminds about stuff I’d forgotten about, “Oh ya, I’ve been meaning to pick that up.”

    I can say one thing for absolute certain…there is a lot of stuff I would NEVER have bought if I hadn’t downloaded it first or otherwise have been able to sample it on some site such as YouTube.

    On average, I spend well over $100 a month on media (Primarily DVDs and music), but they want to call me a thief for having downloaded content. I do my part to support the industry and they can bite me if they think otherwise.

  26. ConcernedCanadian raises a point that is often overlooked. The “hospitality” internet services that are offered for free to guests. The IP address detected by the “monitors” will belong to the hotel, not the guest.

    If the current “legal actions” become more prevalent, it will effectively put these services out of business. No more guest internet access at hotels, restaurants, etc.

    I support a lot of locations that offer this kind of service, and can confirm that a LOT of guests have their “P2P program” running all the time. It’s not like these are simply kids or pirates. I frequently deal with guests that complain of a slow business VPN connection, and the reason it’s slow is because they have a P2P program constantly running in the background, chewing up their bandwidth. VP’s, heavy business travelers, and others seem to be the most frequent users of these programs in these locations. In discussions with them, they would much rather use a “netflix” type of service (reliability), but in that absence they use whatever is available.

    I’m not saying this isn’t an issue. Like Crockett, I am saying this is a change in society, and adapting to those changes is the only way to resolve it. Punitive measures only work when you can be absolutely sure the right party is the target.

  27. re: “An IP is not a person”. This is true, although an IP *IS* a subscriber, who might reasonably be held accountable for activities that take place under his jurisdiction (much as a parent or guardian is legally fincially liable for damages that their child causes to somebody else’s property).

    Re: What if a visitor came by and connected to the network? See above… a subscriber has an obligation to take responsibility for how other people utilize property that he willingly shares with them. If he is unwilling to assume this responsibility for other people, then he should not be willingly sharing it. Period.

    Re: What if the wifi is secured with WEP (they’ve made an effort) and is easily crackable? This is valid. A person caught in such a situation should be educated on how to prevent this situation from happening in the future. If it happens afterwards with the same person, willful negligence could reasonably be presumed.

    Re: What if there is trojan, virus or worm on a computer beyond the NAT? If it can be shown to be the case, sure… but that is easy enough to verify one way or the other. Again, education should resolve the situation in the future.

    Re: What if the customer has an open wifi access point? Then the customer is just plain stupid, IMO, and just asking for trouble. I’m not suggesting that being taken advantage of in such a case is justifiable in any way, only that it is so eminently preventable by applying just an iota of common sense, that I would not be inclined to be particularly sympathetic to someone in that position. At the very least, having an open wifi may violate the TOS that the subscriber agreed to when they joined the ISP and could arguably be grounds for immediate disconnection. How this is handled legally should be the same as if they had used easily crackable encryption.

    Re: What if the customer allow all their devices to searched, and the file isn’t found? If their computer is used for work, they should be entitled to claim damages amounting to roughly what they would have made if they had access to their computers for that period of time. I am personally of the opinion that a certain monetary statutory penalty for a false accusation should also exist.

    Re:What if you let someone borrow your modem for a weekend? See above.

  28. With Luck….
    They will get sympathetic judges (remember when Von Finkenstein was a sitting judge?) who will order something like a loonie in damages.

  29. Mr Geist
    I am sorry but i am going to go the extra step and say, it is critical you step forward Mr. Geist and offer legal services for Canadians. It is time, and you are being called to do your duty for the legal rights of Canadians everywhere. I know you have done a lot but its time to do a little more.

    I do feel bad asking you to do this. I am not one of those being sued and would never be one requiring this so i do not speak for myself. Step up, please.

  30. Patrice Lapointe says:

    … a loonie in damages, but how much in attorney fees just to stand in front of the judge ?

  31. lending
    @Adrian. What about those who lend out ligitimate DVDs to their co-workers? I used to do that all the time and it’s perfectly legal.
    That in effect also takes away a sale. It really makes little difference if the copy lent out is ligit or not there is still only one infringement.

  32. Just imprison everyone under 25
    That would end file trading, fix the unemployment problem and Harper could say, “See, we needed those new prisons!”

  33. Dr. Steve Williamson, Toronto says:

    U.S. Money buys people, judges, courts in Canada….here we go again!
    Once again:

    U.S. Money buys people, judges, courts in Canada;

    It is no surprise that the Federal Court in Montreal granted the order, given they most likely received a cash-gift from an unmentioned U.S. lobby group.

    The Quebec court does not show any sort of balance, or logic here:

    Order the release of IP identity in case of suspected child abuse/exploitation: YES.

    Order the release of IP identity in case of a private company producing worthless content and acting upon antiquated, solely self-absorbed profit interest: VERY BIG NO NO.

    The Hurt Locker was such a waste of MY money (spent for cinema tickets, and I want a REFUND) I fully understand that nobody is buying it on DVD or Blu-Ray.

    I am being generous in saying it was ‘mediocre,’ actually a worthless piece of wxyz* movie(!)

    Voltage Pictures, who have NEVER EVER produced ANYTHING worthwhile, are trying to compensate for their losses, by bribing a bribable Canadian court, which should have dismissed the order, period.

    What is their problem in the U.S. anyways? They can shut down ANY website, service or technology via the FBI, if it deems such as partaking in copyright infringement (they already did that this year, by taking over and blocking the Webregistrars of such websites).

    The technology and service has to be stopped, not the people using it. Since this seems to be impossible for them, they resort to ILLEGAL Gestapo methods per se, which is why we should continue to fight ANY U.S. intrusion into our own laws, which WE (Canadians) make, NOT the US of A.

    MP Charlie Anhus is dead on here, calling them “shakedown lawsuits,” and truly, I would add, cheap cash grab attempts.

    Note that in 2-3 years from now, given Moore’s Law of computing, with proper compression, we will be able to email movies to our friends. Also, an entire batch of 1000+ movies will fit onto a USB-stick, which anyone can pop into the mail, and send to anywhere!!!

    In sum:

    I recommend NEVER EVER to watch, buy or rent ANY FILM henceforth produced by Voltage Pictures.

    That is the power of the consumer, vs. creators of worthless ‘art,’ CHEATING a paying cinema audience, and corporate greed!

    Dr. Steve Williamson
    Toronto, ON

  34. No shaw, no telus
    @Hurt Me

    Are you trying to transparently advertise for shaw? As you can clearly see both companies are not on the list and the article clearly states both defended their users in the past.

  35. @Mark “An IP is not a person”. This is true, although an IP *IS* a subscriber, who might reasonably be held accountable for activities that take place under his jurisdiction (much as a parent or guardian is legally fincially liable for damages that their child causes to somebody else’s property).”

    Whether or not I necessarily agree with this point, is this an actual reflection of current law, anyone know?

  36. @Mark
    I think you’ll be hard-pressed to convince judges that they should expect Old Grandma Brown to take responsibility for the wireless network security that her grandson setup in her house 5 years ago.

    IANAL but I expect you’ll also be hard-pressed to get judges to allow different sets of rules for tech-savvy 20 year-old’s than for Old Grandma Brown.

  37. Charlotte Summers says:

    How to avoid the impeding lawsuits (Tips & Tricks 101)
    To all who are afraid of being sued by those du-mb-au*ses Voltage Pics, or whatever those American Yankees call themselves:

    Don’t despair, DO THIS:

    1) Immediately cancel your current ISP
    2) tell them your moving (give them a fictitiuos new address)
    3) close all your current bank accounts Immediately

    4) DO NOT, by any measure, ACCEPT any mail correspondence sent to you:
    a) if it is unregistered mail, DO NOT OPEN IT, take it back to the nearest Canada Post office and let them put a RTS Stamp on it, return to sender, since nobody under the adressee lives there.
    b) if it is registered mail, now that’s a lot easier: DO NOT SIGN FOR IT & DON’T ACCEPT IT >> back it goes, RTS!

    5) If anybody ever calls you, or shows up at your door (Highly unlikely) you are NOT there, DO NOT ANSWER the door to anyone you don’t know!

    6) If someone ever tries to hold you up, threaten, or intimidate you: JUST DO NOT REACT, PLAY DEAF, IGNORE WHOEVER IT IS and WALK AWAY! There is NOTHING they can do: END OF STORY!!!

    So, follow Steps 1)-6) exactly, stay calm, relax and rest easy, REMEMBER, NOTHING will happen!!!

    Oh YEAH?! Of course they are going to send the RCMP, FBI, POLICE, Royal Military, James Bond, 007 after you…..Right? NO WAY (LMFHO !!!)

    Good luck my fellow Canucks,

    and may the force be with you!

    Love n’hugs,


  38. OR …
    … Just wait for this deck of cards to collapse under its own weight like it did in the USA. The ones who ignored or refused to pay are now pretty much in the clear as judges are throwing this stuff out left, right and centre.

    Google ‘lawyer trolling’ then read all the fun & carnage.]

    BTW IANAL so keep that in mind 😉

  39. @Crockett “The ones who ignored or refused to pay are now pretty much in the clear”

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell people to ignore the law, without respect for the law we would certainly be in a lot of trouble!

    Of course these guys are just abusing the system.

  40. @Slugger “without respect for the law we would certainly be in a lot of trouble!”

    Why yes Slugger, I agree. Everyone needs to make their own decisions when faced with such a dilemma.

    But let me add, it’s too bad respect for the law, and copyright, has already taken a few hard kicks to the groin by these very fools and their **AA bosses. A decade of abysmal mismanagement and self destructive PR has weakened the populace’s opinion of big media so much I wonder if it can ever be repaired save a total gutting of the industry.

    It didn’t have to come to this. While ‘pirates’ hold a big part of the blame, some vision, and guts, in the media industry a decade ago would have brought us to a different place rather than a generation suckled on disrespect for copyright and conditioned to free. Now it will be a harder road back to some semblance of order and a healthy marketplace.


  41. About Bell, Videotron and Cogeco
    Didn’t Bell and other ISPs clearly say in the copyright “consultations” that they already have a system in place to identify copyright infringers and that no one used it yet?

  42. Every single one of the comments on here are completely irrelevant, to what has taken place. No damages have occurred in the use of P2P. That can be proven because the economic side of this and research states that the entertainment industry is actually benefiting from and in some cases now using P2P. There’s research to prove this beyond doubt. The Hurt Locker lawsuits were all dropped in the US, and law firms associated with copyright trolling are starting to have their assets seized in the US.

    People don’t use P2P because of market misunderstanding. People use P2P as a new medium. One that can not be controlled. Industry at some point will have to deal with the reality here, and rather than fight the inevitable, start to make money off of it through proven value chains. The entertainment industry isn’t hurting because of “illegal downloading”, they are hurting because they refuse to move forward with viable advertising solutions around P2P. That’s starting to become very much accepted now as fact. Fear mongering only pushes forward a political agenda these twits have to reform our copyright laws. Laws that will largely be irrelevant because of the economics at play here. It’s too bad Geist can’t see the politics at play here, especially when most of these law suits by this producer were thrown out of US courts.

    The Hurt Locker law suits only “hurt” the producers and actors that appeared in this production. I don’t think the producers of the Hurt Locker have enough guts to launch lawsuits in Canada. If they do, consumers will win, and the industry will be hit with a devastating loss not just here in Canada, but world wide on this issue. Bring it on! Let’s get this settled once and for all, and embarrass any politician who thinks punishing consumers for downloading of media is wrong! Lets do it! I guarantee you the Conservatives will not be in power in 4 years if 1 consumer is hit with a lawsuit on this. That was quite clear from the copyright consultations!

    I’m glad Geist though is finally acknowledging that stat damages for non-commercial infringement need to be removed all together. It’s about time, and reflects the economics of the situation!

  43. A wise man once told me “I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: Turn back, turn back; you’ll die if you venture too far.”

    It’s too bad this advise was not given specifically to the entertainment industry 10 years ago. Screw them, bring it on baby. Canadians will stand their ground against this, to that I have no doubt, because my heart is Canadian, and I will be more then welcome to be brought before any court proceeding as a new media expert!

  44. P2P Sharing Websites
    If P2P file sharing is illegal, then why not shut down the file sharing websites such as Isohunt, PirateBay, etc.? Or launch lawsuits against those who actually rip the original DVDs or illegally film the movies in theatres? The average citizen does not understand the nuances of copyright or Internet law, and when they come across a website making a movie available, why should they not assume that it’s legal to download and view it? After all, we all pay our ISP providers a monthly fee to access content on the Internet, don’t we?

  45. @Tom C.
    They’ve been trying for years to shut down IsoHunt and PirateBay. Other sites have been shut down, Mininova comes to mind. Most of these sites do not reside on US soil which makes them very difficult shut down, especially if you situate your servers in countries which are not sympathetic to the US. What’s that? Most of the world these days? Hunting down original DVD rippers is even more difficult as most that make it to wide distribution originate from organized groups which usually have many layers of security to protect rippers. The ONLY way to catch such people is to have a high level internal leak within the group.

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law. If one must use P2P for illegal content, a VPN or SeedBox on non-North American soil, to hide your real IP, is probably among the most secure options.

    I’m not keen on the way things are shaping up. As a Canadian VPN provider, we have made adjustments to stay on the right side of the law as we’ve grown over the last 2 years.

    A lot of this has been in how we word our ‘offer’. We are careful not to encourage illegal activity, nor do we promote sharing of ‘Hollywood content’ via torrent, yet we remain torrent open and friendly.

    At the same time we’ve decoupled (separated) our payment systems from our membership database, and only keep track of what our users eat up in terms of bandwidth. Ultimately, we don’t keep specific logs of where they’ve been. Many of our IPs are shared – just like an open Wifi router.

    I read somewhere that from the start of this new omnibus bill, ISPs and startups like ours will only have 3 yrs to get ourselves to a point where we can ‘afford’ to offer a feature where the authorities can tap into us at will – and access specific logs of where our user have been. Is this correct Michael G?

    What I do see here in this country right now is a scary chilling effect on life, privacy, and freedom online. This is certainly not the stuff my Grandfathers went overseas and fought for in WW II in the name of Canada. They’d fucking roll over…

    It’s one thing for US copyright-trolls to hit Canadians, or any of our ISPs, start-ups, etc, with a letter. It’s another when our own Government is complacent and wants to cannibalize the freedom of it’s very own citizens, albeit Patriot Act style legislation.

    Personally, I won’t be having any of it, and I promise Canadian Freedom will be off-shored if need be.

    Kind Regards,

    Support @

  47. @Keith
    I wasn’t aware that the omnibus crime bill required VPN services to provide authority tap-in, I thought it was just ISPs. If indeed it extends to VPNs then this bill is far more problematic than I imagined.

    If it’s true, then what’s their definition of a VPN? Is it any device on the internet that forwards or redirects data? What workarounds would we have other than using offshore VPNs?

  48. @davegravy
    I’m not sure how it will be in Canada, but in the US, VPN providers are required to provide IP information about their subscribers to authorities upon request. The VPN-assigned IP will, of course, link to the “real” IP at which point another request can then be made to the ISP to get subscriber info. I had a chat with one of the guys from Strong VPN in the US who told me as much. In the US, a local VPN provider, while it does encrypt your traffic, does nothing to protect your IP. I don’t see that being any different in Canada going forward. NOW if we’re required to have tap-ins on VPN and other encrypted traffic, as Keith suggests might be the case, that IS a serious invasion of privacy that potentially exposes private information such as credit cards and purchase history and banking data. When privacy is of the utmost importance, one might be better off to use something like TOR or i2p for such transactions or even an off-shore VPN, located say somewhere like the Netherlands or Switzerland or really any country with strong privacy laws…as long as the provider has no ties to corporations on North American soil.

    As I’ve said a number of times…I do very little which would be considered illegal and nothing that hits the RIAA/MPAA/CRIA radar, but I’ll be damned I let them track me.

    I’d like to see anyone try and break the layers of encryption involved in i2p. From my understanding of encryption, it would be near impossible to break and absolutely impossible in real time…and certainly not cost justifiable.

  49. @Keith
    Perhaps this is getting off-topic, but I can easily setup a VPN server on my home linux box and give access away for free. Does this subject me to the rules we’re discussing that apply to VPN services? Am I liable for all traffic passing through my box?

    If not, can we expect to see public-supported not-for-profit underground VPNs popping up on higher-speed connections all over the country?

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  51. Wendell Chrysler says:

    A number of things come up for me here.

    First, I find it interesting that in these cases people scramble to decide if they’ve done anything illegal and then pat themselves on the back if they don’t think that they have. Here’s the deal … even if what you did is not illegal right now, it seems that it could all be illegal tomorrow, and your ISP/Phone company will hand over your info in a heartbeat. Example: Say that today you feel comfortable criticizing the government, but tomorrow that puts you on a watch-list in the name of “national security”. As in this case, authorities look at places you have posted, and your ISP hands over all of your info verifying that you were on that server at that time. Sound fanciful? I suspect that this is already a reality in many places, and might even be here (since they could also pass a law, as in the US, that says that they don’t even have to tell you that they’re watching you). Don’t get all self-righteous about copyright … think about how laws and fear are being used, and consider how your information is handed over instantly … and there is no ISP/carrier who will not roll over in the face of a court order.

    We live in a surveillance society … it’s official. Soon there will be deep-packet inspection, and you will be noticed for any opinion that someone with power somewhere doesn’t like. This isn’t about copyright and a certain movie, it’s about the fact that what you do and where you do it is now available to any corporation with an army of lawyers and a willing judge … and the kicker is that you don’t even have to have done a thing, because you can’t afford to fight. When you get the threat, the only option is to pay.

    So, don’t talk about whether downloading is bad or not … we all know the answer to that. Think about what these people are doing. They don’t care about the content that they’re “protecting”. They are interested in the fact that the content is an attractive lure that some people go for. When someone does, they send out the lawyers with the idea that you’ve just caused 10’s of thousands of dollars of damages somehow (even if the lure was actually just a piece of garbage that they found on the street and claimed as their own). This is a money-making scheme for lawyers … nobody knows how much damage has been done to the makers of the content (if it’s anything beyond the lost rental fee for the video, who knows), but they will calculate how much people will be willing to pay when they’re scared, and they’ll ask for that much. It has nothing to do with actual damages, the process doesn’t even happen in the legal system, and nobody can afford to use the legal system to fight.

    Scary times.

  52. Now this is just too funny … and on topic.

    As hard as people try to shut down the pipes, there will be more there with plungers. I generally do not condone or support infringement, but innovation and meeting market expectations is by far the better way to deal with it over bound to fail technical & litigation measures.

  53. Statistics: Regression Analysis!!!
    (A little off-topic since the OP was about a movie – sorry!)

    Not going to lie, I didn’t read the whole thing. I did, however, read the results & summary of findings.

    The part I find the funniest is that we have a government agency that undertakes the research, finds no direct positive or negative relationship (in aggregate) for P2P file sharing – and yet your music corps will cry about lost sales (nevermind the statistically significant benefit *cough* *cough*).

    Copied and pasted the first three paragraphs from the summary of findings section:

    The primary objective of this paper is to determine the effects of P2P file-sharing on purchases of CDs and electronically-delivered music tracks, using representative survey data from the Canadian population.

    In the aggregate, we are unable to discover any direct relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchases in Canada. The analysis of the entire Canadian population does not uncover either a positive or negative relationship between the number of files downloaded from P2P networks and CDs purchased. That is, we find no direct evidence to suggest that the net effect of P2P file-sharing on CD purchasing is either positive or negative for Canada as a whole. These inferences are based on the results obtained from estimation of the negative binomial models (Table 4.1 and Appendix 4).

    However, our analysis of the Canadian P2P file-sharing subpopulation suggests that there is a strong positive relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchasing. That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file-sharing increases CD purchasing. We estimate that the effect of one additional P2P download per month is to increase music purchasing by 0.44 CDs per year (based on estimates obtained from the negative binomial model in Table 4.3). Furthermore, we find indirect evidence of the ‘market creation’ effect of P2P file-sharing in the positive coefficient on the variable ‘Not available elsewhere’ (Table 4.3).


  54. Wendell Chrysler says:

    The pipes and the plungers
    Yep, like Crockett said … whacking people over the head for being bad only teaches them to try to avoid being whacked in the head again … it does nothing to convince them they should compensate content creators, it only teaches them that they don’t want to be whacked anymore. When something new comes along that will help them to avoid being whacked, they’ll be back at it. If you’ve raised children, you know all about this aspect of human behaviour (or you have scared children who haven’t learned to make ethical decisions without a stick over their head).

    On the other hand, teach them that rewarding artists actually rewards artists (and most of us are convinced that the current system mostly rewards lawyers), and give them a reasonable system with which to reward them, and you might create a new pattern of behaviour. Currently, people may do the right thing out of fear … they need to be taught to do the right thing because it’s right … and be given a reasonable way to do so. I actually don’t have any hope that this will ever happen, and I’m pretty sure that the cat and mouse game will continue indefinitely, to the benefit of lawyers, and the detriment of artists.

  55. Thank you to Mike Geist for all his support, help and guidance!
    I wish to say a big thank you to Dr Geist, for all he has done (and hopefully continue) to keep us informed and updated on copyright and internet issues!

    WITHOUT Mike, we would by now be FULLY controlled by U.S.-American interests.

    The U.S. and its secretive lobby groups has and always will view Canada (with its 10:1 population ratio) as woodmen, farmers and fishermen, who have no rights, freedoms, sovereignity whatsoever.

    Mike is not just the voice of reason, our rights as consumers, but also as individuals and CANADIANS.

    Keep up the good work Mike, and if you ever decide to go into politics, YOU have got MY vote !!!


  56. We can only hope these lawsuits send a clear message to US lawyers that Canada is not “the Land of the Litigated, Home of the Sued” as the US is.

    I am not a P2P user anymore, nor am I a particularly big proponent of it, but, the idea that people are being sued en masse in what is nothing more than an extortion attempt, is sickening. These scumbags are nothing but opportunistic, money-grubbing leeches, who represent an archaic mentality and a complete unwillingness to change with the times.

    I know that I will never again support anything from Voltage pictures, nor will I support anything from a company which allies itself with this vile lawfirm. Just like iTunes significantly changed the world of music downloading, there must be a viable answer from the movie industry to make movie downloading easier, cheaper, and more accessible. This, and realistic (i.e. much less severe–eliminate mandatory minimum) penalties for copyright infringement are the only way to go, in my opinion.

    In any case, these are interesting and scary times for our internet privacy, and I thank Mr. Geist for keeping us informed.

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  59. @ConcernedCanadian – get a decent firewall
    To ConcernedCanadian, I would recommend that you look into a decent router or firewall appliance where you can control protocols or simply block ports. utorrent cannot work properly if UDP ports are blocked or closed by a firewall. As well, “smarter” firewalls/router/appliances can be made to QOS torrent protocols into oblivion if you so choose.

    Several things to consider to is that when customers connect to your wireless service every time you should have a landing pad that automatically redirects the first url to your website with a click through TOC. If they violate that then it may not be your problem.

    There are expensive and not expensive solutions out there. Take a look around and see what you can afford. It could simply be a decent wireless router loaded with a build of DDWRT firmware.

  60. @ Wendell Chrysler “Here’s the deal … even if what you did is not illegal right now, it seems that it could all be illegal tomorrow”

    It does not matter, if something is not illegal, you can not be charged for it, if it becomes illegal at a later date. If it was not on the law books when the offence happened, you can not be charged for it when it is, illegal, this also applies to sentencing, which I’ll explain below.

    Say (and it doesn’t exist) the minimum sentence for Assault with a weapon/causing bodily harm was 2 years, and you were charged and convicted with that today, and tomorrow the government ups the minimum sentence to 5 years, they can not go back and retroactively change your sentence from 2 years to 5 years.

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