TekSavvy to get more time to inform customers about legal action

A delegate looks at his computer during a party meeting of the Pirate Party (Piraten Partei) (Reuters photo)A Toronto judge has awarded Internet provider TekSavvy more time to inform subscribers about their potential involvement in a landmark copyright case, CBC reports.

The motion for TekSavvy to hand over the personal information of customers linked with about 2,000 IP addresses to Voltage Pictures LLC, the studio behind The Hurt Locker, has been adjourned until January 14.

According to Tina Furlan, the communications director for TekSavvy, the case has been delayed due to a lack of time to inform customers about the filing (the company was given a week to prepare for the case), and the Canadian Interent Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) said that it did not have time to officially apply for intervener status in the case, the CBC says.

TekSavvy told customers last week that it had received a request by Voltage 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 original 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, outlining the next steps that would happen in the Voltage-TekSavvy burgeoning legal drama. After affected customers have been informed and the hearing continues in January, the decision as to whether Voltage has legal grounds to access the information will lead to some next steps:

  1. 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.
  2. 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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