Canadian court rules on copyright trolls: letters can go ahead, under strict supervision

Michael Geist writes, "The Canadian federal court has released its much anticipated decision in Voltage Pictures v. Does, a case involving demands that TekSavvy, a leading independent ISP, disclose the identities of roughly 2,000 subscribers alleged to have downloaded movies without authorization. The case attracted significant attention for several reasons: it is the first major "copyright troll" case in Canada involving Internet downloading (the recording industry previously tried unsuccessfully to sue 29 alleged file sharers), the government sought to discourage these file sharing lawsuits against individuals by creating a $5,000 liability cap for non-commercial infringement, TekSavvy ensured that affected subscribers were made aware of the case and CIPPIC intervened to ensure the privacy issues were considered by the court. Copies of all the case documents can be found here."

In this case, the court ruled that there is some evidence that Voltage has been engaged in litigation which may have an improper purposes, but not enough to deny the motion altogether. Instead, the court ordered release of the subscriber names and addresses with the following safeguards:

* the case will be managed by a Case Management Judge

* TekSavvy will only disclose subscriber name and address information

* Voltage will pay all reasonable legal costs incurred by TekSavvy before the release of any information

* the demand letter to subscribers will include a copy of the court order and "clearly state in bold type that no court has yet made a determination that such subscriber has infringed or is liable in any way for payment of damages"

* the contents of the demand letter will be approved by the parties (including CIPPIC) and the Case Management Judge

* any further cases brought against subscribers will also be case managed

* the information released by TekSavvy will remain confidential, will not be disclosed to other parties, and will not be used for other purposes. The information will not be disclosed to the general public or the media.

Downloading Decision: Federal Court Establishes New Safeguards on Disclosures in File Sharing Suits (Thanks, Michael!)