A Chatham, Ont.-based Internet service provider is publicly expressing its disappointment with a Federal Court ruling that it will be compensated for just a small portion of the costs it incurred while protecting the privacy of its customers against a copyright owner.
The Federal Court decision issued yesterday is the latest development in the dispute between ISP TekSavvy Solutions Inc. and U.S. copyright owner Voltage Pictures LLC that goes back to 2011. That’s when Voltage made court filings requesting that ISPs including TekSavvy, Bell Canada, Cogeco Cable, and Videoton hand over the information of users that allegedly downloaded a major motion picture illegally. One of the movies named by Voltage in its case was Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker. The court decided that TekSavvy should disclose the names and addresses of its customers, provided there was court oversight of how Voltage communicated with those named. It also required Voltage to pay for TekSavvy’s costs involved.
In arguments over what those costs covered should be, TekSavvy argued the number is $346,480.68 and Voltage argued it should be $884. In the end, the court settled on costs totalling $21,557.50 that Voltage should pay to TekSavvy, a rate of about $11 per subscriber.
“For consumers concerned about privacy, this narrow reading sends the wrong signal,” says TekSavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault in a statement issued by the ISP. “It tells copyright claimants that protecting the end-user’s privacy is someone else’s problem – not something whose costs they need to worry about.”
TekSavvy isn’t the only one bemoaning the court decision. Michael Geist, the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, says that TekSavvy’s costs in informing subscribers of the Voltage requests and making court motions should have been compensated.
“That is a bad message for privacy,” he writes in a blog post. “So is the likely outcome for future cases (should they arise) where subscribers left with fewer notices and information from their ISP given the costs involved and the court’s decision to not compensate for these costs.”
TekSavvy says it will continue to protect its customer’s privacy, only providing customer information to Voltage after all conditions of court orders have been met, it says. It also plans to inform those customers involved of next steps.