Supreme Court sides with Rogers in illegal movie downloading case

9-0 decision could end up saving Rogers and other internet providers many thousands of dollars

The Supreme Court of Canada says internet service providers can recover some of the costs of helping movie companies and other copyright holders find illegal downloaders.

In a decision today, the high court sides with Rogers Communications in ruling that the companies pursuing copyright violators should reimburse service providers a reasonable amount for the effort of looking up subscribers suspected of breaking the law.

The 9-0 decision could end up saving Rogers and other internet providers many thousands of dollars, but the Supreme Court says the appropriate fees should be decided at a future Federal Court hearing.

The case began when Voltage Pictures and several other movie production firms asked Rogers for information about an alleged violator under provisions of the Copyright Act.

Rogers retrieved the information but agreed to disclose it only upon payment of a fee — $100 per hour of work plus HST.

Voltage Pictures and its movie company allies hope to eventually obtain the information of tens of thousands of suspected copyright infringers, and they argued the federal legislative regime precluded Rogers from charging a fee.

In 2016 the Federal Court said Rogers was entitled to levy the fee but the decision was overturned the following year on appeal, prompting the telecom company to take its case to the Supreme Court.

Rogers said the appeal was about who must bear the costs of enforcing copyright on the internet: the copyright owner who launches the proceeding, and who can collect back costs from an infringer, or a third-party Internet service provider, whose only option is to raise prices for its customers.

Rogers uses an automated system to send a notice to the more than 200,000 alleged copyright infringers brought to its attention each month — something it is required to do under the Copyright Act without charging a fee.

But Rogers said it should be compensated for the steps it must take when confronted with a court order from a movie company or other copyright holder for the name and address of a subscriber.

In writing on behalf of eight of the members of the Supreme Court, Justice Russell Brown noted Rogers undertakes an eight-step manual process to comply with such an order. But he indicated it was unclear how many of those steps Rogers must carry out at no cost under the law.

Brown said Rogers and other service providers are entitled to “reasonable costs of steps that are necessary to discern a person’s identity” using the records it is required to keep.

He added that while these costs “may well be small,” it is impossible to determine them based on current evidence, meaning a fresh Federal Court hearing must be held to assess fees a provider can charge.

While agreeing with the majority, Justice Suzanne Cote went further, saying Rogers should be able to levy a fee for all eight steps it takes to respond to a court order.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

City of Nanaimo issues building permit for Gordon Street hotel

Ground-breaking for $21-million project anticipated this spring

Vancouver Island Brewing puts Nanaimo bar on tap

Beer based on signature Nanaimo dessert flying off liquor retailers’ shelves

Former executive director no longer with Pacifica Housing

Operator of Labieux Road and Uplands Walk housing shifts leadership

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Sidewalk snow clearing needs to be prioritized

Hope and patience isn’t solving the problem, says letter writer

Governance top of mind as Nanaimo council works on its strategic plan

Council working with facilitator to develop draft plan, public consultation still to come

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Beefs & Bouquets, Feb. 21

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Former National Ballet principal dancer will hold classes in Nanaimo

Goh begins her cross-Canada Masterclass Series tour at Kirkwood Academy

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

NDSS senior girls win Vancouver Island basketball championship

Nanaimo District wins first AAA girls’ Island title in 29 years

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Most Read