Did You Say Jail Time for Copyright Infringement?

That’s right. Jail time. Grant Stanley is the latest casualty in the file-sharing wars.  The 23-year old network administrator for peer-to-peer file sharing site Elite Torrents has been handed a 5 month prison term [story link] for copyright infringement for the part he played in operating the online file-sharing system.  Elite Torrents used the BitTorrent file-sharing application and was shut down in May 2006 by US federal investigators [link].

In Canada, the law on P2P file sharing activity has been in legal limbo since the court in the BMG case [BMG Canada Inc v. John Doe] indicated that downloading music files does not infringe copyright under the private copying exemption. As the court said: “Under [the Copyright] Act, subsection 80(1), the downloading of a song for a person’s private use does not constitute infringement.” So don’t expect anyone to be spending time in a Canadian jail for copyright infringement. Not any time soon, anyway. Mr. Stanley will have to wait for a Canadian pen pal on this issue.

It is the BMG decision which is referred to in the US government’s Special 301 Report which monitors countries whose intellectual property protection regime does not live up to the standards of the United States.  The report, which identifies trading partners who “do not provide an adequate level of IPR [intellectual property rights] protection or enforcement”, refers in a disappointed tone to the “Canadian court decision finding that making files available for copying on a peer to peer file sharing service cannot give rise to liability for infringement under existing Canadian copyright law…”

We can expect changes to the Canadian copyright regime when Parliament gets around to it. This issue will very likely be front and centre, but probably not until 2007.


2 Comments so far

  1. […] Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are often on the front lines of the battles taking place in internet law.  In the BMG case (BMG Canada Inc v. John Doe) (which was referred to in our October 30th post), it was the ISP community which took the brunt of the recording industry’s efforts to stop online peer-to-peer file-sharing. In that decision, the court denied the request by copyright holders to force ISPs to disclose their customers’ identities where copyright infringement was alleged.  ISPs fought to for the right to protect their client’s identities (or framed in a business context, they fought for the right to avoid expensive disclosure obligations) and won. […]

  2. […] This case is one of the first ever extraditions for an intellectual property offense and represents a growing aggressiveness on the part of software publishers to defend against international piracy.  Sentencing is scheduled for later in June, 2007 and Griffiths faces a possible 10-year jail term. […]

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