Anyone who has ever illegally downloaded music, a movie or a TV series like Game of Thrones knows that this act makes content producers furious. Recently, American film studios have a very real tool that allows them to pursue real lawsuits against Canadian citizens … and win them.
At least that’s what lawyer David Fraser, a privacy expert, said he was on Mainstreet on CBC Radio.
Mr. Fraser recounts receiving several calls from Canadians who recently received a letter of formal notice from a studio by registered mail. These letters may seem “a little vague,” he says, but they are legitimate.
Once the letter is received, the recipient has 30 days to defend himself. If the letter is ignored, the price can be high. “[The studios] can get a default judgment and they can go up to $5,000,” says the lawyer.
It can become a right of retention on your house or a seizure of your salary, it is not something that disappears.
For years, the studios have cracked down on people who illegally download programs and films by targeting suspects by sending a notice to their Internet providers.
Under the Copyright Modernization Act, ISPs must monitor the IP addresses of users who download illegally.
Names and addresses revealed
Today, the way the studios work has changed, says Fraser. They identify an IP address, sue the unknown person associated with that address, and then obtain an order from the Federal Court against the ISP, who must then provide the name and address of the customer.
The letters of prosecution are sent by registered mail to the home of the IP address holders, but are addressed to “John Doe”. The lawsuit says “John Doe,” but the accompanying letter is for the defendant.
Reverse class action
Fraser’s firm, McInnes Cooper, explains the tactics on his website: “Thanks to a new legal procedure called the” reverse class action lawsuit “, Hollywood studios are gathering hundreds of lawsuits. The studio is bringing a single class action against a group of people he usually calls “John Doe” because he does not know their names yet. The studio then identifies a person sharing or downloading movies online, usually using BitTorrent.
Next, it sends each of these individuals a notice, through their Internet Service Provider (ISP), that the person’s activity violates the studio’s copyright under the Copyright Act. copyright and requires it to cease. If the studio later identifies one of those people uploading or sharing the same movie, it adds that person as the defendant in the class action against John Doe.
Finally, the studio is asking the Federal Court to order the ISP to identify the account holder from the IP address associated with it. With the name and address of the client, the studio sues the individual for violation of the Copyright Act. ”
“So you think you’re not John Doe. But when you take a closer look, it’s obviously full of legal jargon, but it’s accompanied by a letter from a law firm in Toronto that says you’re actually being sued, “says the lawyer. ‘lawyer.
The IP address holder is informed in the letter that he has 30 days from the date of receipt of the letter to file a defense, says Me Fraser.
If the owner of the IP address does not present a defense, Me Fraser explains that the studio can obtain a default judgment against the individual and thus claim damages.
The letters target users of BitTorrent sites, which allow people to download pieces of a movie or TV show from multiple sources.
“When you use this protocol, you are also one of the 50 [who share the file], which means that you expose your IP address to anyone who wants to see it,” says the lawyer.
“That includes movie studios, which hire companies to track the IP addresses associated with downloading and sharing their content,” he continues.
David Fraser suspects the studios to adopt this approach in order to make their contents less easily accessible online.
“And if they can do it by a shock method, instilling […] the fear of a legal dispute in people’s hearts, then I think it’s mission accomplished for them,” concludes lawyer.
Sydney Emery is a Senior Reporter here at Rise Media covering state and national politics, . Before joining Rise Media, Sydney worked as a contributor to Buzz Feed.. Sydney has worked as a freelance journalist in New York, having been published by over 20 outlets including NPR, the Center for Media and VICE.com.