Thousands of Canadians, including at least one here in Windsor, Ontario, are the subject of legal action for allegedly infringing the copyright of a movie starring Ryan Reynolds through file sharing.
It is one of several such actions being taken across the country on behalf of content creators in recent years.
The lawsuit lists more than 1,900 Internet Protocol (IP) addresses across Canada that it claims infringe the copyright of Hitman’s wife’s bodyguard. It says that the monetary compensation that can be requested for the violation will not exceed $50,000.
There is at least one person in Windsor who uses Cogeco as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and who is being sued in Federal Court in the case. Breaking: saw the claim statement, but neither he nor his attorney agreed to speak on behalf of this story.
The case was brought in July by Kenneth Clark, a lawyer with the Toronto-based law firm Aird Berlis, on behalf of Nevada-based Hitman Two Productions Inc..
“There’s a lot of hacking online that people think has no consequences,” Clark told Breaking:. “Our mandate is to show people that illegal behavior has legal consequences.”
Clark said people receive two warnings through their ISPs that illegal activity is occurring on their accounts before any legal action is taken. When it does, a process has been negotiated to initiate formal court proceedings.
“That is by providing a statement of claim to the individual along with information on how to obtain legal remedies so they can be informed of the consequences.
“We are trying to enforce our clients’ rights because people are stealing their movies.”
Breaking: reached out to Ryan Reynolds’ publicist, Cogeco, as well as Hitman Two Productions Inc. with questions about this matter, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Much of the problem, according to Clark, comes from free movie apps and Android devices that use software not only to download movies but also to become a hub for sharing them with others.
“It’s not like Napster… where sometimes you know what you’re doing.”
These lawsuits say we need to have a different rule for copyright.– David less
As for the high dollar amount listed in the statement of claim, Clark said the Copyright Act sets the limit, and a formal court document asks for the maximum.
“Normally cases are resolved somewhere between the minimum and the maximum… Serious offenders would be more on the maximum and, in the case of people who have had the Internet stolen, we dismiss cases against them.”
David Fewer is an intellectual property and technology lawyer at the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) at the University of Ottawa and has intervened in such cases brought by Clark in the past.
He said Clark has sued more than 10,000 people in Canada on behalf of different clients for BitTorrent file sharing, a peer-to-peer file sharing method in which users can download files and make them available for other users to download. The Internet.
“No one is saying that people should get away with this or that this should be legal or that rights can’t be enforced,” Fewer said.
What gets him involved is the nature of the litigation, he said.
“What is being monetized here is not actually copyright infringement,” he stated. “Our view is that if a judge were to ever award damages, it would be a relatively low amount.”
“The fear and uncertainty of being sued in federal court is what is being monetized here.”
He also disagrees with Clark’s theory of copyright infringement, arguing that authorizing someone to use the Internet doesn’t mean you have control over what they do, so you shouldn’t be liable.
“A parent is not responsible for a roommate’s defamatory statements, for example,” he said.
“These lawsuits say we need to have a different rule for copyright.”
Many sued in similar cases, lawyer says
Matt Cohen, director of Pro-Bono Ontario, which provides legal advice to low-income Ontarians primarily by phone, said they have received about 500 calls about similar matters in recent years.
“We know there are many, many more who have been caught and sued in these matters,” Cohen said.
“I applaud that right in the statement of claim there is some guidance on who they can call for legal services.
He said if people receive a statement of claim in the mail about a matter like this, they seek legal advice.
“We explain to them that if, in fact, they have downloaded a movie or shared a file without the permission of the copyright holder or have been willfully blind to the fact that someone else could have done it using their account, there is a good chance of that a court will find them guilty of copyright [infringement],” he said.
They try to reassure people that court action will otherwise go smoothly and say they should resist if they are asked to pay a large sum of money.
“We want them to be aware of the potential for civil liability, but not to feel scared or intimidated by this,” he said.