TekSavvy customers potentially facing legal action from movie studio

Tori Floyd
The Right ClickDecember 11, 2012

Subscribers to the Canadian Internet service provider TekSavvy may soon be receiving a letter in the mail if they've ever illegally downloaded movies using the service.

TekSavvy told customers yesterday that it had received a request by Voltage Pictures LLC, the studio behind The Hurt Locker, to provide the names and contact information of certain customers. Anyone with an IP address that has allegedly engaged in copyright infringement could potentially be part of this request, TekSavvy's press release says.

"Currently, we have not received a court order, only a request for information and a motion for an order," Marc Gaudrault, CEO of TekSavvy said in the press release. "This is unknown territory for Canadians. We have retained legal counsel to help us through the process and ascertain our rights and obligations as an ISP. If you are caught up in one of these actions, you may wish to seek legal advice respecting your own rights."

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The request, thought to be the largest of its kind in Canadian history and including as many as 2,000 IPs, comes on the heels of the Copyright Modernization Act coming into effect in Canada, CBC reports.

The Copyright Modernization Act, which was known as Bill C-11 prior to its passing, officially came into effect on November 30. The bill was designed to better reflect modern media and the copyright protections extended to it, much of which extends to how piracy in Canada is dealt with.

Canadian technology copyright blogger Michael Geist posted a column on the issue today, outlining the next steps that will happen in the Voltage-TekSavvy burgeoning legal drama:

  1. A hearing will be held at Federal Court next week to determine if customer information should be disclosed. Those who are likely to be affected have likely already received an email from TekSavvy informing them that their information has been requested
  2. If the court allows customer information disclosure, Voltage will likely send legal demand letters to subscribers offering to settle before filing a copyright infringement lawsuit. Under the new Copyright Modernization Act, non-commercial infringement now has a cap of $5000 in liability.
  3. For those who refuse to settle, Voltage may pursue copyright infringement lawsuits against individual subscribers. While the Copyright Modernization Act no longer penalizes non-commercial infringement with those who pirate for commercial uses, it is still within Voltage's legal rights to pursue lawsuits against individuals.

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TekSavvy said in a blog post that they haven't given over any information yet, and they won't until they have a court order telling them to. In an effort to help customers who may be affected by this, they have posted links to legal documents on their website.

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