TekSavvy stuck with big bill from Voltage Pictures copyright fight
Chatham, Ont.-based ISP says 2014 ruling allows 'copyright trolls' to prey on customers in Canada
U.S. movie studio Voltage Pictures will have to pay $21,500 to a Canadian internet provider Teksavvy to help cover costs related to legal action launched against Teksavvy customers accused of illegally downloading movies such as The Hurt Locker.
But the Chatham, Ont.-based ISP says that covers only six per cent of the costs it incurred fighting for its customers' privacy.
Voltage first requested TekSavvy's customer information in 2012, alleging some customers illegally downloaded movies owned by Voltage, including high-profile films such as The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club.
- TekSavvy ordered to ID alleged movie downloaders
- Digital privacy act opens copyright loophole that TekSavvy-Voltage case closed
"For consumers concerned about privacy, this narrow reading sends the wrong signal," TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault said in a press release. "It tells copyright claimants that protecting the end-users' privacy is someone else's problem — not something whose costs they need worry about."
According to Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor and Canada research chair in internet and e-commerce law, TekSavvy said it was owed $346,480.68, mainly from legal fees and technical costs. Voltage, on the other hand, argued that it owed the ISP $884.
That gulf between the costs TekSavvy says it incurred and the amount it was given as compensation makes it less likely for ISPs to fight for the privacy of its customers in court, says Geist.
"That is a bad message for privacy," he writes.
The Federal Court ruled in February 2014 that TekSavvy must hand over the personal information of 2,000 customers accused by Voltage Pictures of downloading movies illegally.
Teksavvy says those customers' information will not be provided to Voltage unless and until all conditions of the court orders to do so are met, and until those customers have been informed.
- An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Teksavvy had handed over the IDs of customers accused of illegally downloading its films to Voltage Pictures. In fact, the company says customers' information will not be provided to Voltage until all conditions of the court orders to do so are met and until those customers have been informed.Mar 23, 2015 2:30 PM ET