Canada’s High Court on Friday ruled that Hollywood studios and other copyright holders must pay internet service providers to chase down Canadians who illegally download movies or other online content.
The decision will make slightly more difficult efforts to fight infringements under Canada’s new 2015 copyright law.
The amount that internet service providers should be reimbursed to dig up information on subscribers suspected of infringing on copyrights, however, must still be determined at a future court hearing.
The case was triggered by a group of film producers who got together to fight illegal sharing of their films.
Led by Voltage Pictures, the production company behind “The Hurt Locker” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” sought to know the identity of a customer of Canadian internet service provider Rogers so that they could sue that person.
Eventually, they planned to sue about 55,000 more Rogers customers, so this was the first of many requests.
Rogers collected the information, but asked the producers to pay a fee of Can$100 (US$77) for it.
In court, Voltage argued that charging for the information would make it cost-prohibitive to track down tens of thousands of alleged law breakers.
Rogers says it receives more than two million requests from rights holders per year to send notices to customers alleging breaches in an effort to discourage ongoing infringement.
Taking the additional step to identify those customers to rights holders risked multiplying its administrative costs, it argued.
The Supreme Court in its ruling said Rogers is entitled to “reasonable costs” for complying with so-called Norwich orders, and sent the matter to a lower court to determine the amount.