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The Courts Canada Piracy

Why Copyright Trolling In Canada Doesn't Pay 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the loony-for-loonies dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In the aftermath of the Canadian file sharing decision involving Voltage Pictures that includes an order to disclose thousands of subscriber names, the big question is what comes next. Michael Geist examines the law and economics behind file sharing litigation in Canada and concludes that copyright trolling doesn't pay as the economics of suing thousands of Canadians for downloading a movie for personal purposes is likely to lead to hundreds of thousands in losses for rights holders."
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Why Copyright Trolling In Canada Doesn't Pay

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:45PM (#46324157)

    Maybe they should change the law. When someone infringes on your rights, shouldn't you have recourse to sue them for damages?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:56PM (#46324283)

    Actually, copyright trolling is a process more akin to the original meaning of trolling (ie: like they do in fishing, rather than the modern "internet" meaning of "being an asshole"), where they send out several thousand letters to people demanding that they pay a settlement for downloading copyrighted materials, usually at a cost drastically inflated over the actual "damages" incurred, and threaten much more expensive legal action should the recipient fail to pay up in a timely manner.

    The problem is, many of these letters are sent to people who haven't actually violated that copyright, and to further muddy the waters, in Canada, all writable media (tapes, CDs, DVDs, etc...) has a levy added to it because the government assumes the only reason you'd ever buy a burnable CD/DVD is to pirate music, so you've already paid for it, and the money has already been sent off to the Canadian version of the RIAA. Hell, I've paid for it, and not even downloaded the music I technically "bought" alongside the stack of burnable DVDs I needed for backups at work.

  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Monday February 24, 2014 @01:16PM (#46324461)

    It's also important to recognize that it's only profitable in the US because here, copyright laws haven't been updated to account for widespread personal copyright infringement. They were written with the intent of shutting down direct piracy for profit: copying a movie to thousands of tapes and reselling them for profit. That's why the penalty is so severe. Since the law doesn't qualify piracy, however, everything qualifies for this penalty. That's why jumping on a torrent for a movie can get you a fine for $250,000 and five years in prison, but walking out of Target with half a dozen games, CDs, or movies only gets you (in my state) up to a $500 fine and 3 months in jail.

    The punishment here so grossly exceeds the severity of the crime, it's actually laughable.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Monday February 24, 2014 @01:39PM (#46324727) Homepage

    Someone did a study a while back and found that the amount of money the RIAA/MPAA has spent on legal costs far exceeds the amount of money they have received in settlements. Something that everyone (excecpt the RIAA/MPAA Mafia) already knew.

    Then someone didn't look at the right numbers, because those are the wrong ones to think about.

    The RIAA is not its members. Its members publish music. The RIAA is an industry association which they contract to represent them and fight for them. The RIAA is, in some ways, little more than a merger of a law firm and a PAC. They do not sell music... they sell the idea that their services are good for the industry and their members.

    I garauntee you that somewhere in the occasional statements that the RIAA makes to its members about how effective it is, they quote the total damages awarded to them as evidence of their effectiveness. High damage totals mean more to them then whether or not the settlement pays out in the end.

    Those settlements are not what keeps the RIAA going, they don't have to be profitable any more than a department store's "loss prevention" (security) department needs to be profitable. All they really need to do, is convince their members that they are worth keeping around.

    So it doesn't really need to be cost effective so much as more cost effective than an individual label doing all their own investigation and lawsuits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @01:55PM (#46324931)
    They probably know. It's not about money (they've been getting record profits), it's about control.
  • by Kris Warkentin (15136) on Monday February 24, 2014 @02:13PM (#46325165) Homepage

    Apparently I'm actually one of the IP addresses named in the original suit. Funny thing is, I don't know, nor have I downloaded any of Voltage's list of crappy films. They actually have 'The Hurt Locker' (which I haven't seen) in their list but the rest are pretty much B movies. What's even more funny is that the time during which I was alleged to have downloaded some of their stuff was the same time I was in Europe on a two week vacation. There were people looking in on our house and we also have neighbors and such who use our wifi so certainly others might have downloaded movies but not me.

    A fun fact about Canadian jurisprudence is that typically the loser pays court costs so if they DO try to take me to court, I think I might exhaust ever single possible legal argument, drag the whole thing out as long as I can before dropping that bombshell. I'm pretty sure that being on the other side of the Atlantic in the middle of the Adriatic on a cruise ship with no internet access proves that I didn't download anything... If I can cost Voltage a fortune in legal fees then it will be a good day.

  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Monday February 24, 2014 @03:19PM (#46326005)

    I think most people pirate because its easier to click a torrent and down comes the movie, and 10 minutes later you're watching it.

    why else is Netflix so popular?

    Of course there's always someone who does it because its free, and many more who say they'd pay a small amount but wouldn't when push comes to shove. But the majority would pay a reasonable amount to download, especially if there was cheaper options for, say, older movies so the latest blockbuster could subsidize them.

  • by carbonUnit42 (1698328) on Monday February 24, 2014 @03:59PM (#46326425)
    Available for purchase is one of the reasons I used to use software like Limewire, or, in actuality, not available in my country. Living in Canada, iTunes US and iTunes Canada had different collections of music available for purchase. I could find a song on iTunes US, but not available on iTunes Canada, and because I do live in Canada, I could not easily order it off of iTunes US. If the right's holder decides to maintain the rights to a song, and not allow me to purchase it legally in my own country, then why should you be allowed to sue for copyright infringement, considering you're not making it available for me to purchase legally? I would like to see copyright reform in the sense of by maintaining the copyright in say, a country like Canada, but you're not willing to release the copyrighted material for whatever reason, then say, after a period of 5 years, you must sell or give up the copyright. It never made much sense to me for a rights holder to not allow a consumer to legitimately purchase a song, and then bitch and complain when the frustrated consumer finds other means to acquire the same song that you refused to make available for purchase.

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.