A landmark attempt to sue Canadians over file-sharing of copyrighted material appears to have been abandoned, with court records showing the lawsuit has been dropped.
Court documents indicate that Voltage withdrew its lawsuit on Wednesday. The company has not yet responded to The Huffington Post’s request for comment.
The move comes a few months after Voltage abandoned a similar but much larger lawsuit in the U.S., where the company had filed suit against more than 24,000 alleged Hurt Locker file-sharers. That case was dismissed when Internet service providers took too long in identifying the thousands of defendants, reported the file-sharing news site Torrentfreak.
Though mass lawsuits against file-sharers are common in the U.S., Voltage’s was the first attempt in Canada since a 2004 lawsuit against music sharers ended with a judge declaring that file-sharing is legal in Canada. An appeal court would later set aside that finding.
It’s unclear what prompted Voltage to abandon the lawsuit. As recently as December, court records show, the company was petitioning a federal court in Montreal to add more defendants to the suit.
A federal judge last August ordered three Internet service providers -- Bell, Cogeco and Videotron -- to hand over subscriber information linked to IP addresses allegedly found to have been downloading The Hurt Locker.
Montreal’s La Presse reported in November of last year that Voltage sent letters to at least a dozen Quebec residents, asking that they pay the company $1,500 or face litigation. According to La Presse reports a number of individuals settled with the company. But at least one individual told the paper that they would challenge the lawsuit in court.
Torrentfreak reported in September that a computer address belonging to the Montreal Canadiens was among those listed in the lawsuit.
Though The Huffington Post was able to confirm through IP identification websites that one of the IP addresses was located at Montreal’s Centre Bell and belonged to the company that owns the Habs, Canadiens spokespeople repeatedly denied any knowledge of the suit. It’s unknown whether Voltage ever pursued action against that IP address.
Under Bill C-11, the copyright legislation currently making its way through Parliament, such lawsuits could become less lucrative in Canada.
The bill distinguishes, for the first time, between commercial and non-commercial copyright infringement, and sets a lower limit for liability for non-commercial infringement: $5,000 for non-commercial, compared to the current $20,000, plus any profits made, for any kind of infringement under current copyright law.