Get a lawyer: file-sharing lawsuit possible for TekSavvy clients in Canada

TORONTO – A Canadian telecommunications company and Internet service provider is warning customers about a possible file-sharing lawsuit, suggesting clients seek their own legal advice.

In a Dec. 10 blog post, TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault said the company received a request for customer information linked to “over 2,000 IP addresses” from Voltage Pictures LLC, which plans to seek a court order on Dec. 17.

Voltage Pictures is a Hollywood film company, co-created by Dean Devlin in 2005, who wrote and produced films such as Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Patriot.

In 2010, Voltage produced the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, and in 2011 the company launched a lawsuit against alleged unauthorized sharers of the movie in Quebec, though later abandoned it in favour of settlement requests.

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Founded in 1998, TekSavvy is based in Chatham, Ont. with branches in Toronto, Ottawa and Sudbury.

Gaudrault’s post assured clients that no information has been given to Voltage yet, and would only be provided under court order. TekSavvy has also sent email notifications to the customers singled out by Voltage.

“The sheer volume of copyright infringement claims that Voltage is pursuing against individuals at one time is what’s different in this case,” wrote Gaudrault. “This very large volume has posed many challenges for us as we have tried to determine which of our customers could be affected and how to give them notice in the most efficient and timeliest manner possible.”

The “Notice of Motion,” which requests the customer names and contact information, was served to TekSavvy on Dec. 7. Though not stated explicitly, Voltage likely suspects these customers of unauthorized file-sharing.

The CEO says they are “concerned” and questions the film company’s approach. Gaudrault writes that non-commercial copyright infringement carries a damage award as low as $100 and as high as $5,000.

Recently enacted copyright reform Bill C-11 was responsible for creating the $5,000 cap on potential damages for non-commercial infringement, and some Internet law experts believe fines will be lower when it comes to actions like illegal downloading.

“It is likely that a court would award far less – perhaps as little as $100 – if the case went to court,” said Michael Geist, law professor and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, in a blog titled, “Why Liability is Limited: A Primer on New Copyright Damages as File Sharing Lawsuits Head to Canada.”

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