The Canadian Internet community has been buzzing for the past week over reports that a Montreal-based company has captured data on one million Canadians who it says have engaged in unauthorized file sharing. While that represents a relatively small percentage of Internet users in Canada, the possibility of hundreds of thousands of lawsuits over alleged copyright infringement would be unprecedented and raise a host of legal and policy issues.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the prospect of mass lawsuits will be of particular interest to the federal government, which just completed a major round of copyright reforms. The new copyright bill established a cap on damages that was explicitly designed to dissuade would-be litigants from targeting individuals. In fact, during hearings into the copyright reform bill, Members of Parliament were given assurances that the industry had no desire to launch file sharing lawsuits.