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Rogers can’t charge fees for copyright infringement services, rules Federal Court of Appeals

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Canada’s Federal Court of Appeals (FCA) has ruled that Rogers cannot charge fees related to the identification of suspects of copyright infringements, according to a May 9th, 2017 FCA ruling.

The May 9th FCA ruling is the latest development in an ongoing dispute between American production company Voltage Pictures and Rogers Communication.

According to the case literature, Voltage Pictures reached out to Rogers in order to identify a Rogers customer suspected of considerable copyright infringement.

While Rogers agreed to help Voltage Pictures identify the “John Doe” suspected of infringing copyrights, the telecommunications company insisted on charging the film company a $100 CAD-per-work-hour fee.

Rogers’s central argument was that, should the company not charge a fee, it would be inundated by copyright holders attempting to sue Rogers customers for suspected infringements.

Voltage sued Rogers, but the Federal Court of Canada (FCC) ruled in favour of Rogers, arguing that Rogers was entitled to charge a fee, as per stipulations within the Copyright Act, as amended by the Copyright Modernization Act.

Voltage subsequently appealed the FCC’s decision, leading to the FCA’s ruling that Rogers cannot charge a fee to fulfill their legal obligations under a different stipulation outlined by the amended Copyright Act.

The stipulations in question are sections 41.25 and 41.26 of the Copyright Act.:

The text of the Copyright Act's Sections 41.25 and 41.26

The above sections enumerate the exact steps required for a copyright holder to request information about suspected copyright infringers, as well as the steps that service providers like Rogers are legally required to take in response to a copyright holder’s requests.

Section 41.25 and 41.26 also specify that the ministry of industry may specify a fee that service providers can charge to fulfill the obligations outlined in the aforementioned sections.

However, service providers are not legally entitled to a fee, if no fee is outlined by the minister.

“At present, no regulation has been passed,” said Appointed Judge David Stratas, in the May 9th FCA ruling.

“Thus, Internet service providers such as Rogers cannot charge a fee for the discharge of their subsection 41.26(1) obligations, as significant as they are.”

Asked whether the company has plans to appeal the FCA ruling, a Rogers spokesperson said that the company is reviewing the decision.

As this is a ruling by the Federal Court of Appeals, all lower courts, including the Federal Court of Canada and all provincial courts are bound by the FCA’s ruling on the matter.

Voltage Pictures is an American production studio behind films like The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club. Voltage’s copyright enforcement efforts are well-known in both the U.S. and Canada.

In 2014, the Federal Court of Canada sided with Voltage Pictures in a case compelling TekSavvy to release the name of individuals suspected of copyright infringement. However, the FCC enforced incredibly strict restrictions on Voltage, in an attempt to protect the rights of those suspected copyright infringers.

Source: Federal Court of Appeals

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