[written by Andriy Holuk]
Justice Aalto’s decision against Copyright Trolls
After waiting 8 months, judgement was finally given on the Voltage Pictures LLC motion. The names of hundreds of Tecksavvy Solutions costumers accused of copyright infringement will now be handed over to Voltage Pictures. This decision at first glance may be alarming to many, especially to those who have illegally downloaded copyrighted materials. More importantly raises concern about a potential rise in copyright trolls and an increase of copyright litigation in Canada.
The judgement by Justice Aalto is quite pragmatic and the decision is a positive step forward in modernizing copyright litigation and enforcement in Canada. It effectively balanced protecting the legitimate rights of copyright holders and at the same time prevented future abuse of the litigation process by copyright trolls.
Justice Aalto states that where there is evidence that the copyright holder’s true intention is not motivated by the protection of any right in the Copyright Act but rather to improperly intimidate individuals for payment, the court can reject a motion to obtain the names of individuals allegedly infringing copyright. The privacy concerns of individuals should be very much reassured by this decision. It also puts the onus on the claimant to show that they are acting in good faith to protect their rights rather than undermining online privacy concerns without cause.
Secondly, the Court established firm safeguards to prevent alleged infringers from receiving groundless demand letters from copyright trolls. Each demand letter will be reviewed by the court to ensure its content of the letter are satisfactory. Furthermore the letter should specifically state that the person receiving the letter may not in fact be the person responsible for the alleged infringement. The Court will have the ability to amend the demand letters should they deem it inappropriate. Actions will be assigned to Case Management for the purpose of monitoring the conduct of the plaintiff. This ensures that individuals are not harassed by groundless cease and desist letters and the court system is not bogged down by endless copyright infringement litigation.
The statutory maximum for damages in copyright infringement on a personal basis are now $5,000.00.As a result of the judgment, the plaintiff must compensate ISP providers for costs to prior to transferring the names of allegedly infringing parties. Tecksavvy claimed that it had spent around $190,000.00 on legal and administrative costs for the initial stages of the motion. With this in mind, remember that your average litigator will have a retainer fee of about $5,000.00.
This judgement should not only be reassuring to copyright owners, but the public in general. Copyright owners still have access to legal remedies by the Courts to effectively enforce their legitimate rights against illegal downloading. Privacy and protection from frivolous litigation has also been protected. The courts have put in place a sound precedent which will make it extremely difficult for those with illegitimate intentions from exploiting Canada’s copyright and legal framework.
This blog is provided for information purposes only, and should not be treated as legal advice.