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Recent copyright ruling a coup for entertainment producers

A copyright ruling that likely has entertainment industry producers doing a happy dance is probably having the opposite effect on Internet subscribers who have a penchant for downloading pirated material. Holders of copyrighted material like film studios have been using court orders to get the names from Internet service providers of those who download pirated material such as movies. Providers have been charging copyright holders to track down the constantly changing IP addresses of those suspected of such copyright infringement.

Internet service providers are expecting to be flooded with requests since the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that they have to stop charging fees (about $100 for each request) to chase down these IP addresses. The only recourse service providers have is if they can get the federal government to pen a law that allows them to continue to charge a fee.

Just trolling along

Although the court decision came as a surprise to many entertainment industry producers and is being touted as a big win, there is some industry concern that not having any fee at all may unleash Internet trolls who threaten consumers with litigation for supposed infringement of copyright laws, hoping people will get frightened enough to shell out money without questioning. All Internet subscribers will bear the brunt of paying something if Internet providers can't get back costs of pinpointing alleged offenders.

Here are some highlights of the new ruling:

  • If you're an entertainment industry producer, the decision removes the costly endeavour of you having to pay a fee to find each individual infringer.
  • The judge left room for service providers to lobby the government to add fees and costs that may spread among all users.
  • As a copyright holder, it will be less difficult for you to pinpoint offenders and to launch lawsuits against them.
  • Any retribution would correlate more to the offense since any class action suit would spread legal costs among those watching pirated movies.

Some say the ruling messes with the way the system has been operating for the past two years. During this period, copyright owners simply notified providers of suspected infringement asking them to send notices to those certain subscribers. However, if your production company didn't have the funds needed to get service providers to track down infringers, you will now have the chance to identify thousands.

If you produce copyrighted material and you suspect copyright infringement, you would do well to contact a lawyer with extensive knowledge of the entertainment industry including copyright law. With experienced legal representation, you can make sure all your intellectual property rights are protected.

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