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Canada Creates Cap On Liability For File Sharing Lawsuits 208

An anonymous reader writes "Over the past couple of days, there have been reports about the return of file sharing lawsuits to Canada, with fears that thousands of Canadians could be targeted. While it is possible that many will receive demand letters, Michael Geist has posted a detailed primer on liability in Canada that notes that recent changes to Canadian copyright law limit liability in non-commercial cases to a maximum of $5,000 for all infringement claims. In fact, it is likely that a court would award far less — perhaps as little as $100 — if the case went to court as even the government's FAQ on the recent copyright reform bill provided assurances that Canadians 'will not face disproportionate penalties for minor infringements of copyright by distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial infringement.'"
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Canada Creates Cap On Liability For File Sharing Lawsuits

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  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @11:54AM (#42117665) Homepage

    Yet another reason to consider moving to Canada...

    • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:17PM (#42117951) Homepage
      Don't move to Canada!

      Instead, let's start importing common sense from Canada. Since it is a limited natural resource, we would have to negotiate a fair market price for it. But we need it because the natural reserves of common sense in the US seem scarce.
      • by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:27PM (#42118063)
        NO!!! It's our common scene and we're not sharing it. Start making your own Eh!
      • Not sure if I want any of Canadian Common Sense [] to be honest. Then again EVERYBODY should have implemented something like this past the very first copyright lawsuit where the kid got slammed for 6-7 figures, so about a decade later glad to see a single country do it, now about buying a server in Canada... :)
      • by jameshofo ( 1454841 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:52PM (#42118475)
        We could petition our congressmen, who will then ask the Record companies if its OK! it can't hurt to ask right?
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        Where does the pipeline go? Odds are they'll pump it all down to Texas, where it will promptly disappear.

      • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:18PM (#42118877) Journal

        Relax. In a couple of generations the US will be utterly reliant on Canada for much of its grain, energy and fresh water. You can join Confederation, get proper universal health care (instead of that bizarre bastardized system known as Obamacare, something only an American government could come up with), have Prince William as head of titular head of state instead of that incredibly silly President person, an executive that can be toppled by a vote of no confidence by the legislative branch, loonie dollar coins and a more sensible approach to copyright.

        Heck, with the Westminster System, the likelihood of a third or fourth party have decent representation in the legislative branch goes up significantly.

        Oh, and we have a plucky national anthem.

        • The combination of Prince William and "titular" made me chuckle. 'Cause billy likes tits.

        • by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:51PM (#42119447)

          Don't mention "plucky" and "O Canada" in the same sentence or you'll have "The Maple Leaf Forever" adherents popping out of the woodwork to proclaim the superiority of their chosen song.

          • Don't mention "plucky" and "O Canada" in the same sentence or you'll have "The Maple Leaf Forever" adherents popping out of the woodwork to proclaim the superiority of their chosen song.

            Fortunately most of them are so old that they never mastered a mouse, much less Slashdot.

        • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:57PM (#42124579) Homepage Journal

          get proper universal health care (instead of that bizarre bastardized system known as Obamacare, something only an American government could come up with)

          We should adopt the core tenet of the Canadian health care system immediately: The federal government should get out and leave it up to the states, just as the Canadian provinces each run their own system. This would remove all of the opposition from the conservative states immediately. The "blue" states could then move forward unimpeded. Whether Canadian history would repeat, with the conservative states eventually joining as well, just as the more conservative Canadian provinces eventually did, remains to be seen.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        You would have to get rid of the nutjobs like the Tea Party, Fox News followers, etc...

      • Circular Argument: you (the politicians who run/destroy the country for you) would first need common sense...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Dude man, if you can get Harper the fuck out of here, there will suddenly be more common sense than we know what to do with, and we'll ship over everything we can. But first things first, you're gonna have to get rid of Harper... how you do it is your problem, but I'm strongly of the 'don't ask, don't tell' type, if he were to suddenly go missing.

      • Or you can pirate common sense!
    • I am all for this law, so long as you can still download a movie you have otherwise bought.
      • "Buying" (you don't really own fuck all when you pay for content) a movie doesn't entitle you to go and download it from whatever source you wish. You will still be subject to the same legal perils as everyone else. In fact under Canada's new copyright provisions, being disallowed to break digital locks (DRM) trumps all other provisions of fair use and it's going to be illegal to even make a copy of a DVD. In fact software that circumvents the CSS will no longer be legal to distribute in Canada.

        It remains t

  • by Arbitary5664 ( 1979712 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @11:57AM (#42117685)
    When corporations are not involved in the law making process, it would seem the likelihood of reasonable laws increases.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:35PM (#42118191)

      Well, DUH!

      If there's nobody to bribe politicians, they will do what gets them votes, after all, then this is their main income. They are just like any whores, they follow the money.

      • There were plenty of corporations involved. It's not illegal to rip a DVD to put in on your phone, for example. In general, it's illegal to break electronic locks.

      • In Canada it's illegal for a business to donate money to a politician.

        • Theoretically. Elections Canada seems to be engaging in much foot dragging regarding investigating apparent instances of that during the last election involving Dean Del Mastro receiving donations from his cousin's company funneled through employees.

      • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:36PM (#42119189) Homepage

        "If there's nobody to bribe politicians"

        Or more simply, implement a completely transparent registry of all lobbyists, who they *really* represent, and all their meetings:

        Go ahead and try to bribe, or strong-arm. Someone *will* notice. There's people who's only job is to watch the list and report on it.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:21PM (#42118925) Journal

      You should have seen the proposed copyright laws dating back to the Liberal government of the early 2000s. RIAA and MPAA were pushing really hard for a super-DMCA, and were still putting on the pressure over the last few years. But every once in a while, making a helluva lot of noise can accomplish something. I wrote my MP three letters over the last five years detailing out how the media industry-backed legislation would significantly harm consumers, remove choice and open up even minor infringement to destructive lawsuits.

    • In general, damages in Canada are limited to real damage. ie: your fender is damaged in a car accident then it is strictly body shop charges (assuming no injury).

      A record company would have to show real loss which is typically the actual lost sale and not some imaginary extension to what might have happened. Criminal fines are different though but it is fairly well established that people are fined somewhat proportionate to the crime.

      In other words, there is nothing new here with regards to not allowing

  • by i_ate_god ( 899684 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:07PM (#42117815) []

    If I bought a spindle of DVDs, I should not be able to be sued.

    • by w_dragon ( 1802458 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:11PM (#42117863)
      You might want to read what you linked to - the levy doesn't exist on DVDs since it only covers audio. Download music in Canada, without making it available yourself (so no bittorrent), and you should be good. Download a movie and you can still be sued.
      • by epp_b ( 944299 )
        Right, but... Are they going to even bother going after movie downloaders when the maximum they can extort is $5k? I mean, that won't even cover their legal fees for one case.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          > $5k? I mean, that won't even cover their legal fees for one case.


          Note that commercial limits are much higher, as they should be. So expect cases about what makes you "commercial".

      • by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:50PM (#42118423)

        What I do is set my upload to 0. I know, I'm a dick for not seeding, but there's not much I can do.

        In terms of being sued, it's simply not worth the company's time to sue an individual now. They're limited to actual damages (which require a receipt), court costs (we have a loser-pay system here) and punitive damages (which are reasonable here). The total liability is now up to $5000 and there is no guarantee that you would see that. In terms of digital lockbreaking tools, the tools themselves are not illegal to own, and any damages for personal use are strictly limited to what they can prove. (i.e. they have a receipt; e.g. Beardo ripped Movie instead of buying a digital copy, we're out $9.99.)

        For claims less than $25k, they would be forced to go to small-claims court, which would also prevent a label from using their Uber-Lawyer team. You'd have to have the actual person who is being damaged go to court.

        Further, the ISPs here require a warrant to disclose information. They will not share IP and personal info in a civil case because they could get sued by our Privacy Commissioner. That office has some teeth; they're the guys who forced FB to change some of their regulations.

        • What I do is set my upload to 0.

          In many file sharing apps, a setting of 0 = unlimited.

        • The total liability cap kind of makes the total liability a moot point, but one thing to clarify is that court costs are decided by the court and don't cover full legal fees. Full filing fees, disbursements etc are, but the rate for a lawyer's time and what is considered a billable increment is controlled and to my knowledge pretty much never covers the cost of a real lawyer going to court.

          Back on topic.. My hope is that this way of dealing with infringement pushes big media into actually providing easier
          • The problem I have is with the sound. My media box will handily play just about anything I throw at it and the picture quality is quite nice. A 720 looks just as nice as 1080, although it's nice to get the BR from time to time and watch the 1080p feed. (The local library loans out BR movies.)

            I've got a reasonably decent system (there's always better) with a $1000+ receiver and about $1200 worth of speakers, all calibrated.

            Flat stereo is great for watching on the TV on its own, but it's not as good for th

    • Canada's current private copying levies are as follows: $0.24 per unit for Audio Cassette tape (40min or longer), and $0.29 per unit for CD-R

      Let me be optimistic here and suggest that you purchased a spindle of 100 CD-Rs.

      That would be $29.00 in levies.

      But wait a minute... sources ( [], [] tell me the price need only be somewhere around $15.

      So what you're saying is, not only should you not be able to be sued for any hypothetical (right? right.) TV series and movies you have downloaded and m

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Even uploading needs a bit of common sense applied. It sounds like it is happening in Canada, but certainly not in the U.S.

        For a torrent, most people just go with the default ratio of 2.0 (if they bother seeding after they get the download). So that's sharing 2 copies, not the many thousand that the statutory values are designed to cover.

  • With high priced music and high risk even associating with use of purchased music, I have been out of the market since this started. Maybe customers will return in Canada. This is worth watching. I don't buy music because I can't use it for slideshows at weddings, dance party (public performance), etc. It is all restricted to private home use only. Really puts it in the buggy whip centrury. All the new internet uses are prohibited. Why purchase it?

    • by afidel ( 530433 )

      Huh? Amazon has albums for $5 all the time and there's zero percent risk of using your legally purchased files. I had been out of the market for a long time as well but when Amazon started selling unencumbered MP3's at reasonable prices I started buying an average of a couple albums a month.

    • I don't buy music because I can't use it for slideshows at weddings, dance party...

      You must be a superhero-level slashdotter if you host enough dance parties for digital music to make any difference in your lifestyle. I'm guessing that the average slashdotter has never been to a dance party, let alone hosted one. I know I sure haven't.
      Then again, this is slashdot, where the standard is to go way overboard over the tiniest thing, so maybe...

  • Geist for... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ashenkase ( 2008188 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:08PM (#42117823)
    Prime Minister
    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

      I really would support that.

      He really is a voice of reason amongst annoying extremists (in both directions).

  • Canada....would you mind shipping all this reason and common sense down south to the USA?

    • I'd only send a copy, but not the original.

    • Canada....would you mind shipping all this reason and common sense down south to the USA?

      No need, we already have a law that prevents the imposition of excessive fines - it's called the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution. []

      Problem is, it tends to get ignored; here's hoping the Canadian courts don't follow suit, as they have in the past.

  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:14PM (#42117899) Homepage
    > notes that recent changes to Canadian copyright law limit liability
    > in non-commercial cases to a maximum of $5,000 for all infringement claims.

    But that is $5000 in Canadian dollars. How much is that in human dollars?
    • by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:18PM (#42117963)

      At current exchange rates, $5,033 USD, or $4814 AUD, and the rest, you can Google for yourself.

    • Re:$5000 dollars? (Score:5, Informative)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:24PM (#42118029) Homepage
      $5000 currently [] equates to $5,036.67. That's right. As of right now when I'm writing this post, the Canadian dollar is actually worth more than the American Dollar. Hard to beleve considering only 10 years ago, the Canadian dollar was only worth 65 cents US.
      • Yeah, it use to be great to get a $100 USD check from my Mom in NC for my Birthday. I use to be able to get $140 CAD out of it after the bank took their "transfer" fees. Now I'm luck if I can get $80 CAD. You have to watch the currency closely. The news the day before I deposited the last check from my mom to my daughter said the dollar was around $0.95 then when I cashed the check the next day the rate was around $1.05. After the bank took their "transfer" fee the $100 USD ended up being closer to $85 CAD.
        • Although it was funny as hell when Mom came to visit, gave a $5 USD bill at the Tim's drive through for a $4.95 order and was told it wasn't enough.

          I grew up near the Ontario/New York border, I would have loved to be there for that conversation.

          • We're originally from Nova Scotia, but moved to the states back in 95. I moved back to Nova Scotia in 99 and have had to put up with my mom mocking Canadian currency every-time she came to visit ever since. So it was pretty entertaining when she said "What?" after being told she was ten cents short. I use to work at Tim's when I was in university and, although I didn't have a lot of Americans come through, when an American came in it was almost guaranteed they'd do the put an American quarter on the counter
    • Dunno today, but in 2015 about a buck and fifty.

    • 2002 called. They politely (must have been Canadian) asked to stop making currency exchange jokes, as the USD is actually worth less now
  • Does this means $5000 per lawsuit, or $5000 per person forever.
    Because if it is just per lawsuit, than they could just sue you separately for every infringement. And if you pirate one song, you have likely pirated 5000.

    • In keeping with our Common Sense, bringing 5000 cases to court against an individual would be pretty obvious to the court, and time consuming for the company suing. I'm guessing our Judges would not like to see that, considering how congested our courts are already. Not to mention circumventing the spirit of the law in this case.
      And the 5000 dollar sum is on the outside of the award - considering the guidelines for judges and the government FAQ on the matter (range from 100-5000 dollars) it is unlikely th

    • $5000 max for all infringement prior to the filing date of the lawsuit. You can not be sued for the same infringement twice.

      However, $5000 is also unlikely as the range is from $100 to $5000 with emphasis implied towards the low end of that scale.

    • Sure, but it's hard enough to prove you pirated one song, and unless Canadian law is considerably different than US you can't use the outcome of an unrelated case (it must be right, otherwise they should have included it in the original case) as actual evidence, though you may be able to prejudice the judge a bit. Moreover if the maximum is $5000 then minor infractions (one song) will likely be far less and the profitability of suing you for each song is likely to be negative, not to mention judges will qu

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:21PM (#42118007) Homepage

    * provide legal protection for businesses that choose to use technological protection measures or "digital locks" to protect their work as part of their business models; and,
    * give consumers the ability to, among other things, record their favourite TV shows for later viewing, transfer music from a CD to a digital device, and create a mash-up to post via social media.

    In other words, stronger protections for (1) to take away (2). They explcitly repeat it under the consumer benefits as "if they are doing so for their private use and have not broken a digital lock." and under concerns of creators as "Consumers will not be able to break a digital lock to exercise these exceptions.". They're also going to hit on all sorts of "enablers" of copyright infringement, but don't worry because they say "Search engines and ISPs will be unaffected by this provision, to the extent that they act as true intermediaries." My guess is that there's no true Scotsman. But sure they capped the non-commercial infringement to $5k instead of $20k now. By the way, did anyone check if they use the US definition of "commercial" where if it has a large enough sticker value they count it as commercial anyway even if you make no money on it?

    • If people use torrents to "record their favourite TV shows for later viewing", the law seem to punish you.

      With Cable boxes making it harder if not impossible to do this, the law is not helping consumers.

      It reminds me of a line from The Matrix:
        "How are you going to speak Mr. Anderson, when you mouth?"

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:22PM (#42118015)

    There has to be something in place to prevent people from outright stealing of music and movies. Artists deserve to be compensated for their work. But this American notion of massive awards to greedy Hollywood studios has got to stop. Is it really fair to bankrupt people because they shared some songs? I never stole any songs but I am so disgusted with the whole thing that I have basically stopped buying music all together. It's mostly internet radio for me these days. I won't give those greedy bastards a nickel.

  • companies that pursue drm are really after control they can never have. sold the Witcher 2 completely drm free on their site when it was released, but the version posted by pirates hours after its release was a cracked drm version bought in a store. Companies should focus on making their Customers happy instead of chasing people that are not going to buy their product even if there is no other way to get it.
    • DRM is by definition, and I mean by capitalist definition, a failed idea. The main reason is that it makes a product that is already hard to sell even less desirable to the customer.

      Commercial software is competing with itself. Well, actually, with its counterfeit/copied counterpart. The prospective user has two choices to acquire the software, either buy a legitimate copy or produce an illegal copy. The advantage of the latter is obviously the price. And it's hard to impossible to compete with free on pric

  • by concealment ( 2447304 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:39PM (#42118239) Homepage Journal

    I approve any measure designed to restrain judgments to something fair and reasonable.

    However, there are more costs to a lawsuit than the judgment.

    First, a lawsuit is a public event in which the participants are publicly identified. That's on your "Google record" for life.

    Next, it's a really stressful event. I think most people would rather perform surgery on themselves than go through a lawsuit.

    Finally, it's going to affect how people respond to you while it's going on. Someone who's currently in litigation has a stigma around them.

    So while this is a good thing in part, it may be addressing the smallest part of the actual cost of the lawsuit.

    • Having been through a lawsuit that ended up costing almost $40k in legal fees, I can certainly agree with most of your points. At the same time, unlike the lawsuit I was in, which could have ended up costing me somewhere in the neighborhood of $200k-$300k (it was a property/estate dispute), the cap here is $5000. The likelihood of the level of dispute that I had is very small indeed. I would think it likely that there will be few lawsuits, and instead lots of letters with settlements of $100-$500. If there

  • If Canada agrees to the same extradition agreements like the UK has with the US, the IRAA/MPAA Gestapo might prefer to persue criminal prosecution as opposed to civil litigation. Never mind that the laws aren't in place, they can lobby efficiently to get those laws in place relatively quickly. []

    • 1. You can't extradite somebody to a foreign country for a crime that was committed domestically. If the crime was committed on Canadian soil, and is a crime under Canadian law, then it will be tried in a Canadian court. Canada also has a long-standing policy of not extraditing accused criminals to countries where they would face a penalty that is significantly more severe than what they would face domestically. (we don't extradite murder suspects to the US because of the death penalty, for example).

      2. The

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @12:47PM (#42118385)

    Looks nice on paper, but what is the definition of "commercial"? For-profit or "damage being high enough" (with damage being and arbitrary number pulled out of the plaintiff's rear end)?

  • The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Supreme Law of the Land, not to be superseded by anything but another Amendment:

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    Good luck to you, Canadians. Here's hoping your judges are far less "activist" than our own.

  • See what can happen when your country has sensible election and political campaign finance laws.
  • Holy shit they had some commonsense for a change!

    "distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial infringement."

  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @01:25PM (#42118997) Homepage

    This latest round of "possible crackdown" stories _is_ the story itself -- frighten the masses into obedience. The legal system can only deal with a limited number of objectionable people. The rest have to be frightened/corralled into compliance.

    With some norms, most people are happy to comply because they see the reason and rationale for it. Even if they don't like someone, most are unlikely to attack or steal from them because someone else is likely to do the same to them. The law can [barely] deal with the exceptions. When exceptions become common, as in the US alcohol prohibilition, and drug prohibition [borderline], the law fails in spectacular and mission-jeopardizing manner [discretion/corruption].

    With something as ephemeral and esoteric as copyright monopoly grants, it is very unclear who is being harmed and by how much. Sure, it is easy to see harm from unauthorized identical copies being sold at retail. But far less obvious for downloading a TV episode/song that was broadcast yesterday.

    So the monopoly grant-holders have to frighten everyone. Sometimes by head-on-pike examples.

  • What would happen if a publisher decided that they wanted to undermine another publisher's profits on competing works by distributing them for free, under the pretext of "non-commercial infringement"?

    In particular, what if they hired somebody to distribute them from his or her home? With nothing to officially trace the reason for the distribution to the company that did this, there'd be no reason to assume commercial infringement, and so the very worst that could happen is a $5,000 fine... evidently, a

    • by DM9290 ( 797337 )

      I wonder how long it will be before they plug that hole?

      yes. the big flaw with our legal system is that you have to PROVE your case in court.

      it would be much more efficient if the plaintif could just show up at the defendants house with a baseball bat and break his legs.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.