In today’s society, many turn to torrenting or downloading movies from the internet. This is partially due to the increasing popularity of devices, such as computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The last time that Canada amended its copyright law was in 2012, which carried with it a multitude of debates regarding the Copyright Modernization Act. Many accused Canada of being too lenient on acts of piracy and therefore must implement more checks to reprimand copyright infringement. In response to this, there have been multiple court cases and industry data showcasing Canada’s shift towards a tougher anti-piracy regime. An example of the measures now taken include more aggressive digital-lock provisions.
Unfortunately, many people ignore warnings from their internet service providers as well as the copyright notices on the movies themselves. The argument tends to circulate around whether or not a copyright holder would indeed find and sue an individual who downloads or torrents a movie. It has become common knowledge that this act is one that millions of people perform on a daily basis and yet, it is very rare for one to hear about copyright infringement penalties. Additionally, others have claimed that smaller movie studios may be using lawsuits, or threats of them, as a means of profiting from their films instead of stopping people from downloading movies.
In more recent years, this trend has slowly begun to change with movie rights holders sentencing multiple copyright infringement lawsuits that have identified thousands of Canadians. This lock-down on anti-piracy has demonstrated the detrimental effects of ignoring the warnings, as many have begun to realize that the costs of illegally downloading movies surpasses that of renting or buying a movie or streaming it on legal websites such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.
According to intellectual property lawyers and telecom companies, the number of copyright infringement cases in Canada is unprecedented. Therefore, the Supreme Court is now attempting to settle a dispute between who should cover the costs for identifying those who commit these acts of piracy. The cost for determining the infringers are approximately $100, which would accumulate to a substantial amount given the volume of pirates. There are currently two movie production companies that the court is attempting to decide between: Voltage Pictures LLC and Rogers Communications Inc.
Essentially, if Rogers wins, it would be extremely costly to sue the thousands of pirates simultaneously. Conversely, if Voltage wins, more legal action will most likely occur. Simultaneously suing all of those accused of piracy would be difficult, as each individual would have varying circumstances that cannot be dealt with identically. For instance, an individual may be using their neighbour’s Wi-Fi network to illegally download content. Defendants in lawsuits will surely face economic consequences, whether it be due to hiring a lawyer or the court giving the plaintiff a higher penalty. Thus, Canada has tightened its anti-piracy measures.
Under the Copyright Act, Rogers Communication Inc. is responsible for sending over 200,000 notices to alleged copyright infringers without charging a fee. Rogers believes that it should be compensated for the measures it takes to identify the subscribers who pirate content off the internet.
On 14 September 2018, the Supreme Court sided with Rogers Communications Inc. in ruling that those companies who want to find the pirates should partially reimburse the internet service providers for their ability to identify the subscribers who violated the law. By doing so, internet service providers including Rogers Communication Inc. will be able to save a substantial amount of money; however, the ‘reasonable’ amount that should be reimbursed to the internet service providers has not yet been agreed upon.