Precedent setting file-sharing lawsuit could force Rogers to expose customer information

In a new strategy to combat the pirating of its movies, LA-based film company Voltage Pictures filed a reverse class action lawsuit earlier this year against an unknown uploader in an attempt to force Rogers, the uploader’s internet service provider (ISP), to reveal his or her identity. The decision, which is expected to come later in 2016, will be precedent-setting for Internet privacy policy in Canada.

“Voltage envisions using the personal information of a single random person as the lead name in a high-profile class-action lawsuit, a much more intrusive use of the information with far-reaching implications for the affected individual,” writes Michael Geist, the Canada research chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa in a recent article for the Toronto Star.

Rogers is contesting the request, says Geist, reporting that a representative has stated, “we protect our customers’ privacy and we will not share their personal information without their permission, or a court order. We require those safeguards to deter improper or overreaching requests for disclosure.”

Voltage Pictures, which has produced films such as The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club, is known for its tenacity in filing lawsuits against the illegal sharing of its movies, a practice often referred to as “copyright trolling.”

In 2012, it launched a high profile case against Teksavvy seeking the disclosure of the personal information of approximately 2,000 of the ISP’s customers. Two years later, the Federal Court compelled Teksavvy identify the alleged downloaders, but also specified that Voltage’s demand letters be approved by the court first and clearly state that no court had made a determination and they weren’t yet liable to pay any damages.

If successful, Voltage’s new tactic would make sourcing information about alleged file sharers much easier and less expensive, likely leading to far more copyright prosecution.

Related reading: BitTorrent, the company behind Torrents, plans to launch a livestreaming video platform

[source]Toronto Star[/source]