Ridout Barron


New laws in place to pursue illegal downloaders

Individuals in Alberta may not be aware that a law that took effect on Jan. 1 may make Internet piracy more dangerous for those who download illegally. The Copyright Modernization Act will require website hosts and Internet service providers to notify customers when an illegal download has been detected coming from the Internet Protocol address associated with that customer.

Customers may then be sued by the holder of the copyright if that holder chooses to do so. Individuals who download material for personal use may be fined up to $5,000 while individuals who have done so for commercial use may be fined up to $20,000. Copyright holders may not choose to sue any single individual due to the cost of litigation, but suing many people at once could be worthwhile.

While the notification does not demand that the individual stop downloading the material, it is a warning to recipients. The notification arrives by email and may be kept for six months by the ISP or the website host. A lawsuit will trigger the exchange of personal information, but until that point, it is not permissible to hand over the information about individual customers to the copyright holder.

A copyright holder who wishes to pursue civil litigation may want to speak with a lawyer about the best strategy. For example, a lawyer may be able to offer advice as to the amount of damages that may be sought and whether a lawsuit is financially feasible. Therefore, a musician who finds that a number of their songs have been illegally downloaded may benefit from pursuing litigation if the downloading has been widespread. Once legal fees have been accounted for, that musician might then be able to recoup some of the losses suffered.

Source: CTV News, "Illegal downloaders beware, you may get a shock in 2015 ", January 02, 2015

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