File Sharing Lawsuits Progress in Canada as Dozens Face Payment Demands

Earlier this fall, I wrote about the return of file sharing lawsuits to Canada as the copyright owners of the film the Hurt Locker obtained a court order requiring three major ISPs – Bell, Videotron, and Cogeco – to reveal the identities of dozens of subscribers alleged to have downloaded the movie. I noted that the targeted Canadians would likely face the prospect of demands to pay thousands of dollars in order to settle the case (or spend thousands in legal fees fighting the claims in court).

Several months later, sources advise that the demand letters to alleged file sharers have been sent. Assuming the content of the letters mirrors that found in the U.S. (which it likely does), the subscribers face demands to pay $2900 to settle the case, which increases to $3900 if the target does not accept the offer within three weeks. A copy of a recent U.S. letter can be found here. The system is so automated that there is a website devoted to the settlements with “all major credit cards accepted.”

It is worth repeating that the industry was specifically asked about the possibility of Hurt Locker lawsuits making their way to Canada when they appeared before the Bill C-32 committee.  The response:

Ted East: We’re not interested in sweeping up the John Does. We’re looking for legislation that basically stops online piracy and illegal file sharing, which requires changes to the bill that exists. Whatever laws we have here are going to be different from those in the United States. As Patrick referred to earlier, we need massive education, because a significant portion of the population in Canada, particularly younger people, have grown up in an environment where piracy seems to be okay, where it has no consequences. We have notice and notice, but everybody that they know is doing it, so changes have to be made.

Bill C-11 tries 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. Without such a change, the government is still leaving the door open to thousands of potential lawsuits against individuals.


  1. Montreal Hockey
    Will the MTL Canadiens get the extortion letter?

  2. confused
    How can they ask for $2900 when to purchase the movie even on blu-ray the most expensive dvd only cost $40 bucks? This is something that has always confused me about digital lawsuits. It’s not worth $2900…it’s hardly worth $100.

    From your experience Michael, do you have any theories or reasoning behind the request amount?

  3. More like– younger people need to realize that they themselves, or their peers will probably hook up an average $5000 debt for using a media made accessible by our own industries (downloading/ipoads).

    It’s not right that an organization with its parent headquarters residing in one country should be allowed to sue the citizens of another country.

    This is really going to help our economy, who do you think is going to really suffer from these lawsuits.

    I say if the organizations don’t want their stuff *pirated they should not-ever have placed it on the market that we the people created.

  4. Eaglesmith101 says:

    The legal company behind this lawsuit is a copyright troll, all they make a lot of money by getting many people to settle for the $2900.00. The more people that tell them where to go and take the issue to the courts, the less likely it is that this company will actually follow through with their demands.

  5. @JP
    I think the rationale is that these people were sharing the movie with the public at large (uploading, as well as downloading the movie). They claim the defendant is therefor directly responsible for not only the “loss” due to the defendant downloading the movie, but the people who downloaded from the defendant, and indirectly responsible for people downloading from the people who downloaded from the defendant (cascading effect).

    The actual damages the studios claim are several orders of magnitude greater than the $2900 that they offer to settle for.

  6. So what should people do ?
    So I am curious, what is the recommended approach for this if you receive such a letter ? Ignore it ? Pay it ? I’ve never seen actual advice given by a lawyer. What was done in the States ?

  7. Fight trolls together
    This plague is still flourishing in US, and I’m on top of the news since February. I wrote a FAQ, but by no means I’m a guru and know what to do, consider my resource as just one source of information. The discussions are more valuable: victims ask questions and help each other. That was one of my main goals – get people together. There are other resources that deal with this legal disease, many listed on the Resources page.

    I will be happy to create a discussion page for Canadian cases.

    This comment looks like an ad, but in reality I seek neither money nor fame, just doing what I think is right.

  8. JP: Copyright is supposed to be an exclusive right to decide who gets to copy a work. When somebody copies any copyrighted work without permission (and it isn’t otherwise explicitly exempted from infringement by the law based on the circumstances or purpose, and thus implicitly allowed by the copyright holder anyways), then by the very definition of “exclusive” the copier encroaches on that exclusivity. This lawfully granted right does have some value (in many cases, commercial value) to the rights holder that is wholly independent of what a retail copy of the work might cost (since those copies are made with consent of the rights holder and don’t infringe), and a reasonable case can be made in light of that fact that the rights holder might be entitled to compensation by an infringer when those rights are encroached upon by the making of any unauthorized copies.

  9. The “actual” loss is probably just what the product would have cost, retail. But clearly no-one is going to sue for a few dollars, even though the cumulative loss across all downloaders may be substantial. So without statutory damages at a reasonable but deterrent level, there will be no remedy. Is this what is being suggested?

  10. @davegravy
    It’s also how I believe their rationale works, but I agree with JP… horrible rationale that the courts allow.

    Because of this rationale, the copyright holders ends up walking away with more money than they lost. So, let’s say a movie gets copied between ten people, and the rights holders sues all those ten people… that’s $29000.00 in money (assuming all defendants pay). However, they only lost ten copies of the movie… which is only a total loss of $400 (assuming $40 a movie). So, this lawsuits gives them a 700% markup in losses… and don’t think punitive damages should be worth $25000.

    So, this is where the law fails for non-commercial infringement. Heck, rights holders don’t need to worry if their movie does well in theaters anymore, they can re-coop all their losses by going after non-commercial infringers.

    So, I agree that the law needs to be changed where the rights holders need proof of infringement and losses, and not just allegations; and the defendant is able to say: “Well, my torrent logs indicates I only shared it four times, here is the proof” and have the amount adjusted more appropriately. They should only sue for actual damages the file sharer did directly.

  11. How is this not illegal again?
    I’m still wondering how this extortion is not illegal. This is exactly the same behaviour we saw from the Mafia in the past, yet this time it’s a Corporate MAFIAA doing it, and it’s not illegal?

  12. hmmmm
    One has to wonder how much movies like Hurt Locker and The Expendables lost in sales due to the bad press received from all the law suits and copyright trolling. I know I’ll never buy either movie and have no desire to see either. The whole situation has poisoned them to me and I’ll not have them in my not unsubstantial collection of 1400+ movies.

    The same situation exists with the band Metallica. I used to be a big fan, but when when they started suing people all those years ago and Lars started spouting off his big mouth, they became poison to me and I’ve not purchased another album and have not listened to them since. In fact, there are very few North American bands I support due to the whole RIAA/CRIA position on the problem.

  13. Where’s the hell is our rights?
    I don’t know what individual can do if the receive such a letter. If we hire lawyers for our defense, we will most likely end up with a huge amount of lawyer fee.

    So you’re forced to pay, guilty or not

  14. Great timing
    You should thank these guys for not holding off until after C-11 passed into law. Now all those that will vote in favour cannot claim ignorance (Wir haben es nicht gewusst) when it comes to these extortion rackets.

  15. @IamME I confronted Kathryn Bigelow on twitter asking if she approves or even aware that her (in my opinion very good) movie is used as an extortion tool. She did not bother to reply…

  16. @Anonymous
    Degen, is that you? Sure sound like you. Once again, the copyright defenders are missing the point. Sure everything you say may well be true, but it still does not address the fact that $2900 is excessive. And as demonstrated here, these sorts of statutory damages create opportunities for extortion by copyright trolls. Civil suits are SUPPOSE to be about recovering losses. Period. Doing anything other than then creates these sorts of abuses.

  17. It might be excessive, but a significant point of large penalties is to attempt to act as a deterrent. It might be more reasonable to only have any actual costs recoverable (including legal expenses) and the infringer simply brought to justice by having to additionally pay the requisite fines for breaking the law in the first place.

    Bearing in mind, of course, when you are talking about actual criminal behavior, then the burden of proof falls wholly on the prosecution.

  18. Awww, Darryl misses me so much he sees my opinion in every anonymous comment. Cute.

    SJD – you mean an independent director whose IP was stolen and her oscar-winning talent completely disrespected refused to talk to folks comparing her to the mafia and the nazis? This is shocking news.

    You guys are still raising the bar on respectful, fact-based discourse over here, are you? Good to see.

  19. @Degen
    John, I agree that if you get caught you should be fined…but within the realm of the legal system.

    What The Copyright Law Group does with the anonymous John Doe letters is nothing less than extortion. It circumvents due process, the legal process and puts the burden of proof on to the accused without the accuser actually having to show any loss or real proof. They have an IP address…that’s it. These letters threaten legal action if the settlement is not paid. To my knowledge very few people, if any, have been actually pursued for refusing to pay. John…threats outside the legal system? Pay up, or else? …this is classic extortion and lawyers in several countries, including France and the UK, and been reprimanded for using such techniques.

  20. @Degen
    “John, I agree that if you get caught you should be fined…but within the realm of the legal system.”

    …and within reason. Thousands of dollars is NOT within reason and absolutely does NOT foster respect for copyright. It’s a movie or piece of music…it’s not like it’s credit card or other sensitive information.

    You know the easiest way to lower piracy…provide the content in a form your customers want at a cost effective price. Netflix proves again and again, that digital media can be extremely profitable if done correctly.

  21. More of the same.

    “They shouldn’t sue filesharers!” “They shouldn’t offer to settle with filesharers!” “$20,000 is too high!” $5,000 is too high!” $2,900 is too high!”

    Meanwhile, this entire post is based on unverified information from “sources” and assumptions about what the unseen letters “likely” say.

    I’m trying to find in his post where Geist says that people shouldn’t infringe copyright. I guess I’ll keep looking.

  22. Edgar Allan Poe
    There’s a great sequence from “The Pit and the Pendulum” where the red cardinal is delivering a message to Torquemada that the pope want the use of torture and public execution stopped.

    “Torquemada: Surely Rome understands that public executions discourage sin?
    Cardinal: The good Lord, you know, padre, he want us to love our neighbor, no roast him, mmm? No roast him …”

    I think we’re experiencing the Inquisition of our time. These days the Inquisition is the media industry and the witches and heretic are the so call pirates. Of course Torquemada did not listen to the counsel of his peers and murdered the Cardinal by walling him up. He continued on his merry way of torture and murder. Eventually, the ghosts of his past mistakes come back to haunt him and he dies by the hand of his own master torturer, impaled in a pit of spikes…a device of his own making. So, perhaps the heavy legislation such as SOPA and DMCA, law suites and John Doe letters can be likened to the torture and execution devices of old. They were meant to punish the wicked much like many so called “modern” laws.

    The question is whether the media industry will end up figuratively impaled with it’s own legislation, much like Torquemada in the pit of spikes.

  23. @Degen thanks for respecting the Godwin law.

    It’s amusing to watch over and over again how some people can twist the truth and attribute to me something that I never said, and moreover that I would not ever say even privately. So many lies in a single sentence.

    Wow. I bet you’ll have a cognitive dissonance seizure when you find out that I never ever condoned piracy in my 80 posts and numerous comments.

    Anyway, piracy here is almost off-topic! We are talking about unethical lawyers who use others’ works to make money by extortion-like methods. They are not different from cyberlockers that profit from infringement, even worse: the latter don’t damage the work creator’s reputation.

  24. Missing heirs says:

    Might make sense to share?

  25. @Degen wow, so many lies in one sentence. It’s rather amusing to watch how my words were twisted and presented as something that I would never say even privately. And BTW thanks for not breaking the law. Godwin law.

    I bet you’ll have a cognitive dissonance seizure when you find out that I never condoned piracy in any of my 80 posts and hundreds of comments.

    And piracy is off-topic here. We are talking about unethical lawyers who shamelessly exploit others’ works to profit from them via extortion-like methods. They are much worse than cyberlockers who profit from infringement, the latter at least don’t damage creators’ reputation.

  26. Heh, well John, you are certainly still lurking around. Good for you. Maybe you’ll learn something too.

    Sure it may be unverified information, but it HAS happened in the States. Is it really such a stretch for you to see it happening here too? We have the same sort of laws that make it possible to happen here. That should be sufficient to discuss the fairness and consequences of it.

    “I’m trying to find in his post where Geist says that people shouldn’t infringe copyright.”

    That’s just it John. I have yet to meet a single person who has not infringed copyright. (Including you, unless you’ve never used a VCR, or made mix tapes before the levy). As the law stands now it is difficult for even the most well meaning person not to run afowl of the law. The Tories plan clearify things somewhat by removing everyone’s physical property rights. That will endear respect for copyright, don’t ya think?!?

    If so many people ignore the law that proportionally heavy handed responses are required to force compliance, then perhaps the problem isn’t with the people, but with the law.

  27. @Degen
    “They shouldn’t sue filesharers!” “They shouldn’t offer to settle with filesharers!” “$20,000 is too high!” $5,000 is too high!” $2,900 is too high!”

    It’s not a matter of what’s too high, what’s too low, it’s a matter of respect. There is a general perception that the entire creative industry is a bunch of greedy rich executives. Now, I’m not going to argue if this is true or not, and personally I don’t care, but it’s not a secret that there is little public respect for the media industry. Much of this respect was lost and never regained going all the way back to the Napster day. Do you think suing people is going to earn that respect back? You might gain control through fear…for a time. But control through fear cannot last.

    Unverified? Geist posted a scan of the actual letter, what more do you want? If you figure his scan is of dubious nature how about another, strikingly similar…here…(There are 12 images…you have to scroll left to see the letter bodies)

    It should be noted that this posting is more about the fact that the industry lied about pursuing Hurt Locker cases here. John enlighten us on what “assumptions” are made.

  28. SingleFather says:

    I don’t support illegal downloading. But I also don’t support shakedowns. Making an illegal u-turn on the road is a fine of 75 dollars. An act that could easily be very dangerous depending on who’s on the road or behind the wheel. Yet downloading a movie could cost you 2900 if sued? Create a fine, not shakedown lawsuits.

    It’s commonplace among teens to download. An unfortunate truth that the parents will have to deal with once the lawsuits come rolling in. Downloading a movie is as easy as one-click now. If these lawsuits become common practice, than I think more families will be in for quite the surprise.

    Is there any sort of organization or support that those who have received letters can contact? There’s too many variables IMO. What if someone was simply leeching off their neighbors wireless Internet connection and downloaded the movie? Or, as in my friends case, downloaded the Hurt Locker, except he already owned the movie on Blu-ray. He simply wanted the ability to view it on his Ipod.

    I hope that most who receive these letter refuse to pay them. There needs to be some sort of stance against these type of lawsuits.

  29. Oh yeah, and aside from the styles being so much a like, there is also the fact that there is only 4 minutes of time from the last Anonymous post to the first Degen post.


    Perhaps if you created some sort of character and tried to write from the perspective of that character you may be able to pass yourself off and someone else. A good fiction author would be able to pull it off. You could try anyway.

    Come on John, err… I mean Anonymous… oops, make that Bart… oh, or maybe Strunk&White. Seriously, we are all accepting people here. You don’t need to hide behind a pseudonym. Well, unless of course you really are the troll some here have made you out to be.

  30. Why are you guys feeding the troll? I mean Degen. Seriously: I’m here for the first time, but watching how my words were twisted and converted to something that I never said and would never even think that way, throwing “nazi” on top of that… it’s just clear for me that constructive dialog with this person is simply impossible. Sad.

  31. @SJD
    You get used to Degen. Sometimes he actually makes good points, but usually ruins it with insult aimed at Geist, even when we here agree with him. When C-32 was first introduced, I once made some comments on the striking similarities between fascist ideologies and those of hardcore copyright controlists (Media industry, Gaming Industry, James Moore, etc.). John took such offense to it that he wrote about it on his own blog claiming we called him a fascist. LOL Ohhh, the good ‘ol days eh John?

  32. Sharing book not the same
    I guess we should sue the people who go to the librairy.
    Or people who pass book to each other.
    Did here in Canada we paid a special tax on DVD
    To give back to the industry?

  33. Darryl,

    I think you’re just going to have to accept that not everyone who doesn’t succumb immediately to the attempted misinformation over here is me. Do you dream about me as well?

    SJD – your desire for constructive dialogue is so plainly apparent. It’s a shame neither Ms. Bigelow nor I are fair-minded enough to see past the accusations of extortion and trollery. Otherwise we could really solve all this nonsense, couldn’t we?

  34. Mr.
    Point blank, these letters amount to nothing more than extortion and a feeble attempt to recoup perceived income in the face an award-winning film that was initially under-represented/under-marketed by its own publishing company. Of course, it’s likely far easier to extort funds from the local populace at large by threatening them with exorbitant legal fees than it is to turn back time. The problem is that the copyright-infringing general public are a far easier target than the originating source of these materials, who remain the true culprits. Downloading a copy of a pirated film from the internet might be morally bankrupt, but suing an individual who has done so for thousands of dollars well and above the true loss of revenue accrued by this act is disgusting.

  35. That’s right John. That’s why you travel with a pocket full of pseudonyms. Pay no attention to that man behind the alias.

    And as for the accusations of extortion and trollery. They are fair. So yeah, it is too bad you can’t see past them to engage in constructive dialogue.

  36. ,,,
    Abolish copyright!

  37. The more you tighten your grip…
    …the more former supporters will slip through your fingers. There’s one “good” side to this, and that is that more people will be directly confronted with the unpleasant side of copyrights and its enforcement; hopefully they will tell all their friends. Remember, so far the Media Industry has only been able to do what they’re doing because they are operating in the shade, off the radar, or whatever else you want to call it. The more people starting to publicly question this subject, the better: it’s a numbers game.

    If I hit the booze and start driving, endangering lives, the *maximum* fine in my province is $2,000, significantly less than the proposed “settlement”.

    Call your MP and demand something be done about this extortion, and not wait for overworked judges to start throwing these things out of court (after a lot of damage has already been done).

  38. So how do we offset the additional load and expense put on our justice system? Well, when we decided that smokers place an additional burden on the healthcare system, we added a significant excise tax on cigarettes. Let’s be consistent and do the same for these toxic products. $10 excise tax on every DVD/CD whose copyright owner is US based.

  39. Snuggle up with a friend and a good movie.
    If you get a letter and live in Canada, use it to light your fireplace and snuggle up with your significant other and a good movie, maybe the one in question.

  40. Scratch that. Smokers pay $5 of taxes on top of $2 the actual price. $50 excise for CD/DVDs should be just right.

  41. I think the solution resides in an formula of equilateral acceptance (as opposed to current propositions). The best example is with an old growth forest. The ogf is 10000 hectares. The corp wants to clear-cut the land it has purchased for 1000% return on its investment. But what is the real value of this ogf? Is it determined by the value of the land, or the value of the limited resources.

    In the current case of the corp seeking damages for its “revenue loss” it is seeking an (intangible) claim based upon a its own projection declaration. People have to begin to realize that it takes two to make an economy. Their claims could only be valid if the second party could guarantee a certain revenue from the start of the business.

    The biggest thing that we have to realize in an economy of two is that both parts are equal in prosperity. It is a symbiotic relation that depends upon each other. IT is the responsibility of each part to insure its own survival so that the economy continues to be mutually profitable.

    Obviously things are not being accepted at a level playing field.

    In the case where one side is demanding restoration payments be made by the other side, it is assumed that the one side has contributed an absolute value (in marketing its film) and the other side must pay (in pirating) to maintain this absolute value (to the economy). This is a falsehood as the absolute value is dependent upon a fixed economy which in this equation should be accepted as two parts and as such is better understood as an environment.

    The environment of economy is created by both groups. If we factor the equation down in that the one side is suing (manipulating) the other side for having pirated (manipulating) the one side we get a loopy situation. The only way that the equation doesn’t deadend is if both sides have a consensual agreement for the (predetermined) economic value. Thus, the movie will return X$. Both sides should also agree that if X$ is not met than someone has to pay. The best system I can think of (really not the best I swear) is how insurance companies work.

    My biggest gripe is that these ogranizations have to realize that we have created an environment for their paradise. Is it right that some rich families can get together and rape our forests? C’mon, these forests are not only theres to do with just because they have the tickets to own the land. (Same applies with oil, or whatever else.) These forests belong to humanity as a whole past/present and future. The same damn thing applies with bigwig media. We have fostered a cultured environment, we have laboured to build our theaters and networks, if a small population of us wish to sue the larger population for a perpetrated income guarantee then they should provide us with backpay for using our media environment.

    Whatever I figured it out, this toxic economy won’t persist.

    But if suing for a guaranteed return is acceptable, than the party should be paying for the right to sue

  42. heh heh how do I cut the last part out, crap,


  43. Degen as the Anti-Geist?

    … that sounds wrong on so many levels, yet so right. Not sure if that’s an insult or a compliment for the local copyright extremist. (Given he calls anyone advocating less copyright ‘Free Culture’, usually with some kind of verbal sneer, that’s something of a tit for tat.)

    What frustrates me is how non-offensive he can be when not writing about copyright issues on his blog. It doesn’t seem to be an integral part of his on-line writing style. Yet when it comes to copyright an element of sheer venom comes into play that shades most of his arguments. I don’t know why that is and could be for a number of reasons but attempting to sensationalize his points in that manner is not the behavior of someone in the right, right or wrong. It tends to polarize some people who get offended by this away from the side he’s arguing for on emotional grounds not logical ones.

    For there are good reasons to have copyright. It can and does help creators. Most here will agree. Unfortunately, it’s mostly the distributors or managers, not creators, that have created a public relations mess. These are the same types of people who claimed that audio tapes, VCRs, etc. would End Our Profits as We Know it. They have only added fuel to the fire with the RIAA’s past actions (making something illegal can make it verrrry tempting to the younger generation) and are going to great lengths to destroy the piracy in any way they can, damn the consequences. The fact that you can cure the disease but kill the patent if you aren’t careful is something that seems to be lost on many execs.

    Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is that the relatively massive growth of the Internet and digital technologies HAS made it much easier to copy digital data. I don’t think that it is as bad as the corps claim but there is definitely a dark side.

    There’s a lot of sharing of movies going on (though many not worth watching) even if I think the advent of Blu-Ray files is slowing that down some. (I’ve seen 12GB files–owch!–and higher which makes for avoidance from most save the dedicated.) I’d rather buy the blu-ray (if I can get it) for quality than download that kind of monster. Sure you can get smaller versions but HD1080 LCDs have become cheap and common enough for people to get used to seeing full quality.

    Convenience and control are two big factors as well. Users like more convenience and distributors like more control. Unfortunately, more control often means less convenience and vice versa when it comes to digital technologies. Which means that logically the two sides are opposing each other and adds to the frustration of both parties. Technology today allows for amazing amounts of convenience in digital products and distributors have been grudgingly forced to bow to public pressure on some fronts. Naturally, they seek to get more control back (which means more profit so naturally a good board will attempt this) and all the file sharing must be extremely frustrating. Redressing the issue is fine but constantly attempting legal means to undo technological progress is not likely to fix the problem to their satisfaction.

    Gah. Rambled off there. Better end now.

  44. File-sharing Benefits
    Considering the enormous benefits the big companies have received financially from file-sharing technology, you’d think by now they would be able to detect where their growth comes from.

    Proving actual losses would be difficult to do with increasing studies showing that the technology is more beneficial than harmful.

    As for what to do if you get a letter, you can simply ignore it. They won’t pursue you, and if they do, all they have is an IP address. That evidence is so insignificant in court these days that you can represent yourself even against a major company and win, with just a little preparation. If you can’t make the court location or date, they still have to prove you’re guilty to put any kind of lien on your income. And perhaps I’m wrong here, but can’t you submit evidence / defense without actually showing up?

    The problem is a select few people who do have the money and don’t want the hassle or are easily bullied will pay up, which is how these goons make their money and why it’s only worth it to them if they can list many defendants on the same case.

  45. If I was a media corp I’d consider “leaking” my movies etc. to filesharing sites myself, then sure veryone who downloaded them. Wouldn’t be hard to pull off anonymously, and a great way to guarantee ppprrrooofffiiitttsssssssss

  46. *sue everyone

    got a little trigger happy on the enter key… cheers :]

  47. @watching
    LOL. Thank you so much for that morning chuckle.

    The AntiGeist.

    I love it!

  48. Interview
    Anyone here received one of these demand letters and willing to talk to the media about it? Email QMI Agency reporter

  49. @Stefania
    Hi Stefania,

    thank you for taking an interest in these matters. Should this result in an article, please include a sidebar that discusses copyright and its history (including copyright term, and the impact on something that’s not widely known but is called the Public Domain) as well as where the actual benefit of long copyright terms. Compare and contrast with Patents (inventors only get 20 years of protection).

    Thanks in advance!

  50. Edit previous
    “as well as where the actual benefit of long copyright terms *lies*” (if you guess artists, explain what benefits there are to their corpse/ashes).

  51. Just looking at the copy of the letter sent to people it is dated mid October, 2011 yet they dismissed 24,000 lawsuits earlier in the month in court , why are they sending new letters yet dismissing old filings in court.

  52. ConcernedCanadian says:

    Worth Noting
    It is worth noting the irony concerning @Stefania’s comment. She works for QMI/ which is part of the same media empire (Quebecor Media) as Videotron. Videotron is one of the ISPs who sold their user’s info down the river without informing them or putting up a fight of any kind.

    I have no doubt she will do a great job reporting on that very concerning situation but still… It’s funny!


  53. @Watching

    Your take on the reality of the copyright situation is pretty much on target. As I’ve said for years, it’s not the artists who have made this mess but their managers.

    These organizations perpetuate this on the ‘capitol hills’ of the world with lobbying for repeated, over the top, legislation such as SOPA that will do more aggregate harm than good. It’s nice to see that even through all this common sense it still alive up there somewhere …

    John, for all his buffle, does sometimes come up with good points and certainly promotes debate. If he could loose some of his venom, and the same it unfortunately promotes in others (guilty here), I think the discourse would be much more effective.

  54. ConcernedCanadian says:

    Business Model

    Depending on how you look at it, the business aspect of the whole thing can make sense. The film was highly praised but was no longer in theater nor was it widely distributed in DVD. According to the film grossed around 17M domestically on 535 screens.

    Let’s say 24,000 lawsuits are dismissed out of an hypothetical 28,000, it mean that 4,000 poor souls caved in and paid the ransom without Voltage Picture sweating too much. If only 4,000 people paid an average of 3000$ each that mean that the racket grossed 12M. Do that a few times an you can easily net a lot more than the combined box office and DVD sales of the movie.

    They are going to milk that cow until powder milk come out. It’s now a business model and has its place on the earning statement just after the box office and DVD sales. It has very little to do with copyright and/or piracy. In fact piracy is vital to those revenues and even if nobody EVER pirated the movie, the additional revenues caused by the non piracy would be nowhere near the current litigation revenue stream. In fact they would probably be close to null.

    The whole thing is morally repulsive and will probably cause more long term harm to the movie industry than the short term gains BUT we currently live in a fast, short term world.

    Canada is roughly 1/10 of the United States and somehow I feel a Québécois sent to this smelly mess which is 1/50 of the States. As I stated in an earlier blog post, in Quebec, most people speak french and contrary to the vast majority of films available in the video clubs, this particular one was only available with the french soundtrack. That means that anyone who rented or purchased the movie with the assumption that the english soundtrack was there like all the other movies had an unpleasant surprise when at home.

    Those who absolutely wanted to see it in its original format had no choice but to download it even if the original DVD was right there on the coffee table.

    That, combined with the multitude of other factors that can explain why a movie was downloaded from a particular IP address ie: wi-fi hacking, trojan horse, shared public wi-fi access (ZAP) etc. It cannot be proven without reasonable doubt who actually did the deed if deed was done. So they may be hopping that enough people pay up and then the dismiss the rest and start again. The exact same thing most of us do every morning… lather rinse and repeat.


  55. Why they are doing this in Canada?
    After reading SingleFather’s response, it made me remember that a lawfirm in the UK did a similar form mass-mail lawsuits. People were so outraged there (because some people targeted were old people who never heard of file sharing), that the lawfirm was put under investigation. Courts quickly ruled that what they were doing was not proper and put a stop to it.

    In addition, in the states, those that actually fought these type of lawsuits managed to prove to the courts that IP addresses do not represent an actual person, for the many reasons outlined in the previous responses here (wireless access by strangers, IP spoofing and so on). So, many of those cases were thrown out of court because of that. I think that is one of the reason why these types of ‘lawful rackets’ don’t happen as much in the US now.

    I think they are doing this in Canada now because there is no precedence in dealing with this type of legal claims yet. I have a feeling this will stop as soon as someone decided to stand up and fight it and prove to the courts that an IP address does not mean an actual person. Problem is, one needs time, money, and a good lawyer.

  56. Oh yeah..
    BTW, I’m also for copyright. I’m not arguing that content rights owners should not be compensated for stolen works. They should be compensated for their work.

    My gripe, like most here, is how they go about getting compensated for stolen work by trying to go around the legal process, and without having to prove actual loss of damages. If the content owners can prove to the courts (beyond just an IP address) that the person actually infringed on the content and proved that doing so has cause so much financial damage, then by all means, get compensated! I’m all for that.

    However, what this lawfirm is doing is far from that, in my opinion.

  57. @Jason:

    What is obvious here is that these companies are far from looking for “fair compensation”. They’re looking to grab as much money as they can, fair or not.

    Thus it gives me the right to not look at it from a fairness perspective too.


  58. @Jason
    34,030,589 Population (2011)
    26,960,000 Internet users in Mar/11 (CIA)

    Firearms registered (as of September 2011): 7,865,994

    Anyone care to explain while we have endless discussion about the long gun registry in the media, with under 8 million firearms registered, and NONE about these copyright-related issues, possibly affecting 20+ million Canadians?

    This US-mandated ENFORCE ENFORCE ENFORCE the crap out of the little guy mentality has to stop, and has to stop now. Break the stranglehold of Big Content by drastically reducing copyright term to perhaps a maximum of 20 years, and limit non-commercial infringement -insofar as not under an exception- to actual proven damages. Whenever you get a chance to talk to an MP, make sure to bring this up.

  59. @Byte: “Anyone care to explain…”

    Follow the money.

  60. NOOB to C-32 says:

    Question from a NOOB to C-32.

    When passed, will it be unlawful to be in possession of material (say a dvd or software program) for which a digital lock has been broken, irrespective of who broke that lock?

    Also, would be interested to get thinking on whether typing in a serial number from a serial number generator would constitute the ‘breaking’ of a lock or would the defendant actually have to alter the coding of the program itself (ie disable the software’s locking mechanism in a similar way to how someone would circumvent DRM on a disk)?

    The reason why I ask is that I have in the past, purchased software (physical software dvds) from independent retailers in Toronto who may or may not have supplied me with legitimate disks. I have no real way of knowing if that software and serial number are legitimate (other than suspicion based on too-good-to-be-true pricing; products I avoid). So would I be contravening if i simply plug the serial into the software.

  61. yes, all breaking
    The TPM protection is both for access control and copy control. If you gained unauthorized access to a copyrighted work by in anyway bypassing a TPM, you are in violation of those provisions. So are the tools to achieve this (serial number generator).

  62. EU digital commissioner comments.
    Not exactly on-topic, but not far off either:

    Perhaps we will start to see some creative thinking around this whole concept we call “copyright” and how it can be appropriately applied in our modern times.

  63. EU digital commissioner comments.
    Commenting on my own comment..

    Digging around on the links and comments that this statement has surfaced or created; Nobody seems to have any real “answers”. But I also have the distinct impression that our digital age has changed what the question(s) should be.

    Until we can come up with the proper questions for the digital age, we won’t get close to appropriate answers.

  64. ,,,

    After being brainwashed for 3 centuries that we need copyright, it’s hard to admit now that we actually don’t.

    But eventually the time will come.


  65. Neelie Kroes’ comments
    “Citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it. Sadly, many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognise and reward,” Kroes added.

    Don’t think for a minute that Neelie Kroes is about to propose drastic copyright reform, freeing up a large amount of hostages into the Public Domain:

    The commissioner said online distribution and cloud computing offered a “totally new way of purchasing, delivering and consuming cultural works”.

    There we go. Purchasing. No matter how old, pull out the ole wallet to get at it. No matter that the original artists’ don’t see a penny:

    “In times of change, we need creativity, out-of-the-box thinking: creative art to overcome this difficult period and creative business models to monetise the art,” Kroes said.

    Monetise of course the operative word there. Neelie, Neelie… you started out so well by recognizing that copyright is oppressive and about keeping things locked up. NO, we don’t want everyting “monetised” and being nickel-and-dimed to death. We want our Public Domain back!

    I know people like Napalm disagree, but I agree to a **LIMITED** time of monopolizing a work you created and decided to make public. Thanks for the latter, our society will be better because of it. But that limited time hasn’t really been “limited”, as an ordinary citizen would understand it, since the French pushed “Life+50” down everyone’s throat at the Berne Convention. This is *technically* limited, because it’s not unlimited, but has nothing do with with a realistic interpretation of limited. This would be that I can choose to respect the copyright, and wait for it to expire. This is what these people never seem to get. If it doesn’t expire 10 years from now, doesn’t expire 20 years from now, doesn’t expire 30 years from now, you might as well ignore the copyright alltogether, today.

    Elvis died in 1977, over THIRTY years ago. His first album was released in 1956, more than FIFTY years ago. Bing Crosby died in 1977 as well; his first album was released in 1945, over SIXTY-FIVE years ago. Can this stuff still be “monetised” today? Sure. Should it? Hell, no! These works should have been Public Domain decades ago.

  66. I think you are missing my point.

    Everyone is trying to find an “answer” to the “problems” created by copyright and the digital age. Napalm has his, Byte has his, even Neelie seems to have some “answers”. But when I started following a lot of the blog comments and links that her statement surfaced, it looked to me like modern technology has changed the very questions copyright was designed to resolve.

    In a sense, Napalm is right. But step back for a second and ask what the fundamental reasoning and reasons are for copyright? What “questions” was copyright designed to answer? We need to dig into the fundamental reasoning, and formulate the “questions” again, with a modern digital age in mind.

    It seems to me that those very questions will be different today, and the “answers” will be something quite unrecognisable from anything resembling “copyright”.

    So what should the “questions” be in this day and age?
    “What period a rights holder should have for the right to control copying?” That isn’t even the right question in this day and age.
    What are the fundamental reasons for a rights holder to have any “control” over copying? Why?

    Once you get to the root of the issues, then ask the appropriate questions, with a digital age in mind.

  67. @Byte & oldguy:

    Copyright was initially designed to protect against commercial scale copying by unauthorized parties (on the basis that these parties would not pay the author of the work). Which is in a sense a form of counterfeiting.

    However as soon as you extend this to private copying (i.e. making copies that never leave your household) you open Pandora’s box. From “format shifting” to the plain operation of playing back the content through digital devices (which all work by “copying” the content through internal buffers and memory).

    I do believe that I should pay in order to get an original, non-counterfeit copy of a work.

    I do believe that I should not buy (or get for free) counterfeit products (as in illegal copies).

    I also do believe that once I bought an original product I should be able to use it as I see fit inside my household.

    ABOLISH COPYRIGHT! (and I mean the “private use copying” part of it)

  68. What’s wrong with the copyright law is that it concentrates on the process of “copying” instead of “publishing”.


    And replace it with something named from the French “Droit d’auteur”. And make it clear that it’s about publishing (as in “making available to third parties”) not copying (as in transitory or permanent copies in a computer).

    But, of course, since Congress can declare that pizza is a vegetable, anything goes.

    Since we can make them mean anything, I wonder why we bother having laws.

  69. Droid d’auteur? Not so sure…
    From Wikipedia (yeah, I know): Authors’ rights include “the right to object to any distortion or mutilation of the work which would be prejudicial to his or her honour or reputation (Article 6bis, Berne Convention). In many countries, the moral rights of an author are perpetual.”

    This is exactly why I object to authors’ rights as a replacement for economic rights; some authors consider *any* change to be a “distortion or mutilation”. One reason I want works to enter the Public Domain within a reasonable timeframe is that it allows others to use it as a basis for their own creativity. There should be no more than a moral obligation to identify the original author (Variations on a theme by Paganini) but that’s it. If you don’t, someone else will point this out (there are quite a number of videos on YouTube where this is done), and you will be branded a plagiarist.

    Copyrights are fine, but they need to expire within 20 years (*), and there need to be plenty of exceptions.

    (*) I mean: any and all of them, so we can’t have the “Rule of the Longest Term” – i.e. a work remains effectively copyrighted until the last of any kind of right related to the work expired. I have no clue where this came from; you would assume that if the copyright in sound recordings is set at 50 years from date of publication, you would assume that this trumps all other rights (i.e. the lyrics might be copyrighted for a longer term, but *as fixed in the recording* are not: I can’t use the recording to make a transcript of the lyrics and publish that separately, but I should be able to copy and publish the *recording with the lyrics fixed in it*).

  70. @Byte: I didn’t say to adopt the French law. What I’m saying is that we should name it something else than COPYright law. Because the lobbyists are using the word COPY to argue that it is about COPYING.

    It isn’t. Or it shouldn’t be. Because all the modern devices are using at least some sort of temporary copies of a signal in order to work. And I’m not talking about digital only, where this is obvious. Check how PAL analog television works, a full line of the image is always stored in an analog memory (a “delay line”). Hey, those pirates are copying, eh!

    The law should be about publishing / distributing (originals or copies).

    Once we clarify this everything will fall into place.

    Otherwise we keep defining pizza as a vegetable and suing people for the “copies” in the browser cache.

  71. @Byte: Also note that there are to different (albeit intertwined) “industries” here: the creative one (authors, artists, performers etc) and the non-creative one (the copiers – record houses etc).

    Can we agree that the copying industry is nothing special and shouldn’t deserve any particular protection? If I can breathe by myself why should I be mandated to breath only through a mechanical respirator? (just to create a revenue stream for the respirator’s owner)?

    So let’s forget about COPYing and let’s talk about PUBLISHING.

  72. Here’s the law on short, as it should be:

    Napalm shalt not PUBLISH anything without having the author’s permission and paying due remuneration to said author.

    Magically how it covers everything without going through 100 paragraphs of exceptions and explanations.

  73. @Darryl: ”

    Oh yeah, and aside from the styles being so much a like, there is also the fact that there is only 4 minutes of time from the last Anonymous post to the first Degen post.

    Coincidence…..? ”

    Yes, actually.

    I represent my own beliefs and opinions in my comments, not anyone else’s. If somebody else happens to share those values, that means that we might happen to agree. It does not mean we are the same person.

    The evidence that you would draw upon to conclude otherwise is circumstantial.

    @Napalm: abolishing copyright would be bad. I understand the concept behind your sentiment, but the consequences would be fatal for small-time would-be publishers who would then be left utterly unable to compete, with absolutely nothing to prevent bigger publishers from either misappropriating their work or simply giving it away for free to cut off the smaller publisher’s only revenue stream.

  74. @Napalm
    “Napalm shalt not PUBLISH anything without having the author’s permission and paying due remuneration to said author.”

    LOL…it doesn’t create all those “alternate” revenue streams copyright holders are so fond of these days. They want up to pay per device…per copy. No private copying…no back-ups…no right of first sale…and we’ll sue your a$$ if you try to exercise said rights. See how that “alternate” revenue stream works there. LOL

  75. @IanME: “LOL…it doesn’t create all those “alternate” revenue streams copyright holders are so fond of these days.”

    Exactly. And that’s why it’s the right thing to do if we want the be able to use modern devices in a decent way. Think about it. It even covers libraries and archives. They’re not PUBLISHING, they’re lending or preserving.

    @Anonymous: Abolish COPYright and instate PUBLISHright. It would work.

  76. Or, as I already mentioned, call it AuthorsRight. Because it should be all about the authors, not about some guys pressing plastic discs.

  77. @Nap
    …but if it’s also about distributing; the US has the doctrine of first sale, i.e. I can buy an ‘official’ copy of a work, then distribute this again (sell on e-bay or kijiji) without the copyright being expired. This is under attack now – you apparently don’t buy music from the iTMS, you buy a non-transferable license (even though there is no DRM). Video games will need an on-line activation with a single-use key.

    I guess we agree to a lot of things: the “little guy” should have considerably more freedoms than he/she has today; the Public Domain is non-existent due to constant term extensions, the Big 3/6 have a suffocating stranglehold on what is to be considered modern culture, etc.

    This is why we need academics like Dr. Geist; it’s probably not his role to come up with a completely new framework, but there are plenty of others that publish research, Dr. Rufus Pollock for one.

    Our role is to use this as basis for our arguments in discussions with the rest of the public at large and our elected representatives. The word needs to get out, and it needs to get on the political agenda.

  78. RE: AuthorsRight
    But authors sell their rights to the guys who press the plastic disks. So the owner and producer are usually one in the same. Unfortunately, there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent someone from signing a stupid contract. Unless they have the established selling power to negotiate caveats in to their contracts…or self publish. All the laws in the world will not help most authors since, quite often, they do not own the content they produce. In this vein, I think “AuthorsRight” is inaccurate.

  79. @IanME: “But authors sell their rights to the guys who press the plastic disks.”

    Sure but if what they could sell is just the “Right to Publish” and not the “Right to Make Copies” then we’re still doing good.

    What I would want to see in the law is a replacement of all references and policing of “making copies” by references and policing of “publishing”.

    That would be some real reform.

  80. @Byte: “This is under attack now – you apparently don’t buy music from the iTMS, you buy a non-transferable license (even though there is no DRM). Video games will need an on-line activation with a single-use key. ”

    If we allow this to happen, then we’ll be soon living in this world:

    It goes too far and in the wrong direction too.

  81. Napalm: the “right to publish” would require that all music stores, video stores, and book stores (and libraries) would have to get explicit authorization to sell such works, since they would be distributing works to third parties. It would even require that people obtain such permission just to loan a friend a physical book, since they would likewise be distributing the work to a third party. In the end, this would not be a good thing.

    What makes much more sense if you really want to tie distribution directly to it is to have 3 classes of works: “authorized”, “unauthorized”, and “infringing”. Authorized copies are those that the rights holder has explicitly authorized the production of, and they remain authorized as long as the terms and conditions that the rights holder imposed upon their creation are met (for example, permission might have been granted to make copies for a particular occasion, event, or purpose). Implicitly, any authorized work that does not outline any terms for its authorization remains authorized in perpetuity. If an authorized work had limitations on the terms for which it might be copied, and those terms are not distributed with the work, then the work is considered “infringing”. Any other once authorized work whose terms have since expired is considered “unauthorized”.

    Unauthorized copies are, in addition to what is described above, copies that are not made with any explicit consent of the rights holder. Unauthorized copies themselves would not necessarily be illegal, but any form of distribution of an unauthorized copy renders the copy as “infringing”, and could subject the distributor to legal action by the rights holder.

    Infringing copies would be illegal, period. Regardless of whether or not there is any obvious commercial intent, manufacturing, distributing, and even knowingly receiving infringing materials would be wholly against the law. In the latter case, the rights holder would not be entitled to any compensation, although the person who knowingly receives an infringing copy of a work would still be subject to legal penalties against them.

  82. … 3 classes of works: “authorized”, “unauthorized”, and “infringing”

    This is the kind of sideways thinking I am looking for. It has the seeds for a workable system in our modern world. “Copying” isn’t directly part of the picture, but instead focuses on rights holder control of “distribution”.

    Extend this kind of thinking forward, into a already visible future, where making “copies” of physical products (3D printing of objects) becomes common place. It has the germs of the right kind of approach.
    EG: A part on the icemaker on your fridge breaks down. You can either download and “print” your own replacement part, or go to an “authorized” dealer (distribution) and have them do the same thing for you.

  83. @Anonymous:

    Let’s check here:

    It doesn’t cover reselling or lending.

  84. reselling and lending are both distribution, Napalm.
    Narrowing the concept of distribution to cover only “publishing” would not be adequate, and the loophole that it leaves would be horribly abused, and could even be leveraged to compromise its own intent. That said, one probably does want to prohibit reselling or lending of legitimate copies of works either, which is where the 3 classes of works that I mentioned above would come into play, and why I believe it might not be a bad idea to utilize something along those lines.

  85. Er… does *NOT* want to prohibit such reseslling or lending of legitimate copies of works…

  86. @Anonymous: “reselling and lending are both distribution, Napalm.”

    Let’s read again the definition. It says “production AND issuance”. Translating into copyrightese, it means making copies AND distributing them.

    Stores and libraries don’t do any “production” thus fail to meet the definition of a “publisher”.

  87. This 2900 vs the 3900 looks like they are putting high pressure to settle quickly. The problem i see,people that will pay the amount to ‘buy’ peace will eventually get another letter sooner or later. Torrent users usually have downloaded multiples files, not just one. If you pay, you will be identified as an easy prey and then others will wants your money. How much are you willing to pay overall?

  88. Do we know if anybody in Canada received one of those letter so far?

  89. ConcernedCanadian says:

    The slowest CanadaPost service available fort letters is about 4 business days from coast to coast. It’s been 6 business days since the 17th and I haven’t heard of anyone getting a letter yet.

  90. ConcernedCanadian says:

    Found something…
    I’ve found the following in a Quebec french newspaper site:

    It says that about 30 people in Quebec received ransom letters and the amount is 1,500$.

    It is not said how far back they went and if this was just a prelude to further demands like it was the case in the US.

    The article was posted at 9h01 yesterday morning so the letters must have been received late last week.

    Nobody talks about the fact that only the french version was available in retail and video stores and that anybody wanting to watch the English version needed to download it even if the rented/purchased the DVD. Am I the only one who noticed that? Is it relevant?


  91. starmink says:

    Why did Voltage withdraw their lawsuit?
    Why did Voltage withdraw their lawsuit?

  92. Mass BitTorrent lawsuits are coming to Canada
    It’s a shame that copyright trolls are starting to invade Canada. In case anyone is interested, we wrote an article on our blog called “Mass BitTorrent lawsuits are coming to Canada”