How to React if You Are Accused of Downloading Pirated Content

How to React if You Are Accused of Downloading Pirated Content

Do not ignore warning e-mails and, if necessary, contact a lawyer.
Like many Internet users, Andre Laplante occasionally downloads pirated movies and TV series via the BitTorrent protocol, a practice that contravenes Canadian copyright law. In early October 2018, this resident of Lévis receives by registered mail a letter from Aird & Berlis, Toronto. The missive informs him that a movie studio, Bodyguard Productions, accuses him of downloading and sharing BitTorrent movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard.

If necessary, contact a lawyer

When we spoke to him last October, Andre Laplante had taken steps with a lawyer to defend himself. “It’s the right thing to do,” says James Plotkin, an Ottawa lawyer who represents consumers in the same situation. “We must not ignore this type of letter, otherwise we risk losing by default in court. “

According to Mr. Plotkin, in this type of lawsuit, copyright holders and their lawyers are primarily trying to reach out-of-court settlements. The maximum damages for a non-commercial copyright infringement being $ 5,000 in Canada, the plaintiffs are seeking such an amount.

However, according to Mr. Plotkin, the case law shows that the damages must be proportional to the loss suffered by the copyright holder. “In many cases, the loss probably equals a few movie tickets at most,” says the lawyer.

Do not ignore warning e-mails

From time to time, André Laplante receives from his ISP notices that he has downloaded pirated content and that he must stop sharing it. This kind of warning simply requires removing the files in question from your BitTorrent software, which makes them accessible to all its users.

“I may have received an email about The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but I do not remember it,” said the resident of Lévis, adding that he always erases this kind of message. According to the firm Aird & Berlis, the user would indeed have received one. Ignoring the advice of his ISP, he opened the door to a lawsuit.

Warnings like those received by Andre Laplante are commonplace. According to Plotkin, copyright holders are mandating IT investigation companies to determine which IP addresses (related to ISP accounts) have downloaded BitTorrent files. For example, a film studio may ask your provider to send you a copyright infringement notice.

Since this is only a small tap on the fingers, you do not have to contact a lawyer. But you should stop sharing pirated content, otherwise, you might one day, like Andre Laplante, receive a lawyer’s letter.

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