Voltage Pictures — at it again

Many moons ago, then justice Konrad von Finckenstein, now head of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), put paid to early underhand attempts by Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, the members of the Big 4 Organized Music cartel, to turn Canada into an American clone.

In the States, the entertainment cartels order ‘jump’ and many jurists ask ‘How high?’

Hollywood and the Big 4 would dearly like to see the same thing happening in Canada but their attempts to bring this about have so far failed.

In March, 2004, the Big 4 were using their CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association of America) to try railroad Canadian ISPs into revealing the names of customers alleged to have been sharing music with each other online.

However, Von Finckenstein, then a judge, ruled putting music into a computer directory that may, or may, not be shared by someone else online doesn’t constitute copyright infringement under Canadian law.

“BMG Canada Inc. and other music companies sued anonymous Canadian file sharers for copyright infringement, and asked their Internet service providers to disclose their names and addresses,” writes Jonathan Mesiano-Crookston  in Lawyers Weekly, going on,  “While BMG’s request was denied, the case clarified the test to be applied to such situations, and provided insight about the balance between privacy and intellectual property rights in such motions.”

“The Hurt Locker, available as a download long before it became a Hollywood hit, wants to put the hurt on file sharers,”  I wrote in 2010, going on.

sarver“And that’s more than a little ironic given its producers were sued by master sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver  (far right) for using him and his actions as the model for the movie’s bomb-defusing hero, Blaster One.

not sarver“Sarver, of Clarksville, Tenn., claims screenwriter Mark Boal was embedded in his three-person unit and that the information he gathered was used in the film, nominated for nine Academy Awards, including best original screenplay.

Sarver says Will James, the film’s main character (portrayed by Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner 11- right), is based on him and that James’ call signal, “Blaster One,” was uniquely his during his tours of duty, according to the Associated Press.

Sarver also says he coined the phrase “The Hurt Locker.”

He says he only learned of the  “appropriation” of his identity after the film’s release.

Copyright scavengers at the US Copyright Group used Voltage Pictures, the producers in “preparing a massive lawsuit against thousands of individuals who pirated the film online”, trumpeted the Hollywood Reporter in an ‘Exclusive’.

The ‘group’ cited Voltage as a client.

Continues Mesiano-Crookston:

“In 2011, Voltage Pictures LLC brought a motion against three ISPs, and asked that they disclose the names and addresses of people allegedly sharing The Hurt Locker, a movie for which Voltage held copyright. In an eight-page decision, the Federal Court granted the motion, although the affected ISPs appear not to have opposed it: Voltages Pictures LLC v. Jane Doe  [2011] F.C.J. No. 1260.”

“The Federal Court seemed more concerned about infringement than possible privacy ramifications, and specifically noted that defendants should not be allowed to hide behind Internet anonymity. The order was not appealed and the underlying proceeding was discontinued several months later, presumably because the plaintiff settled with the defendants.

“This thorny issue isn’t going away.

“In late 2012, a production house called NGN Prima Productions Inc. sued anonymous defendants for copyright infringement. Then NGN brought a motion against four smaller ISPs for disclosure of the names and addresses of the infringers. On Nov. 19, the motion was granted and the ISPs were given two weeks to respond. From public records (court file no. T-2062-12), it appears that at least one ISP is responding to the motion, and the matter will be argued more fully at a future date.

“On Dec. 7, Voltage asked the Federal Court to order Teksavvy to disclose the names and addresses of people who had allegedly pirated some of Voltage’s movies via the BitTorrent network. The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic has sought leave to intervene and Voltage’s motion for disclosure has been postponed until CIPPIC’s status is determined. The next motion date has not been set.

“With the popularity of the Internet and the ease in copying digital media, it is no wonder these motions are gaining traction. On the other hand, the inherent privacy concerns, leading-edge law, and questionable ethics of these kinds of demand letters has fuelled public interest in such motions, making these proceedings worth watching for both lawyer and layperson alike.”

Meanwhile, “Voltage Pictures LLC, which states its pictures have won at least six Academy Awards, is asking for a jury trial, alleging the unnamed defendants used their computers to illegally copy and distribute the 2012 movie ‘Maximum Conviction,’ which was directed by Keoni Waxman and stars Steven Seagal and Steve Austin,”  says Sanne Specht  in the Mail Tribune, going on:

“Voltage is seeking $30,000 from each defendant for copyright infringement and an additional $150,000 from each in statutory damages should there be a finding of willful conduct.

“Voltage says the defendants reside in Medford, Talent, Central Point, Shady Cove, Klamath Falls and Brookings.

“But the defendants have not yet been identified by name because Voltage has only their IP — or Internet protocol — addresses.

“Voltage is asking that the defendants’ Internet service providers, which include Charter Communications, Clearwire Corp., CenturyLink, Embarq Corp. and Frontier Corp., be ordered to release the defendants’ names.”

Jon Newton — myblogdammit

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