Michael Ford

Artists, producers: take note of Federal Court decision

A recent ruling from Canada’s Federal Court ordering an Internet service provider to release the names and addresses of more than 2,000 suspected illegal downloaders to a Hollywood production company should draw the attention of content creators across the board, as it will impact them moving forward, says Toronto lawyer James Zibarras.


The court forced TekSavvy Solutions to release the information to Voltage Pictures LLC earlier this month. The decision removes Canadians’ ability to hide behind Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.


“This was a very important decision for all content creators, be it artists, film producers, musicians or photographers,” says Zibarras – Voltage’s lawyer and partner with Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP and head of the firm’s civil and commercial litigation group.


“The Federal Court has clearly stated that it will not allow people who steal copyrighted digital content to hide behind the anonymity of their IP addresses. ISPs, such as TekSavvy, will, in the appropriate circumstances, be ordered to provide the names and addresses associated with IP addresses that have engaged in illegal downloading. That information will then be used to commence proceedings against those individuals.”


Zibarras says illegal downloading is discouraging for those who create valuable work, only to have it stolen online.


“Our society has always recognized the importance of protecting property rights, and we at Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP continue to help content creators protect their intellectual property,” he says. “If people are robbed of the fruit of their labour, their incentive to create is diminished. While Voltage has taken the lead in seeking such remedies in Canada, the Federal Court's decision will likely be a call to action for the entire film and music industry whose content is illegally downloaded by millions of people daily.”


With its ruling, the Federal Court “has agreed that privacy concerns must yield in circumstances where infringement threatens to erode long-established intellectual property rights, and people who take what doesn't belong to them without paying for it will be identified,” says Zibarras.


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