SCC Rules in Favour of Rogers in Landmark ISP Case

September 17, 2018

The Supreme Court of Canada has handed down its ruling in Rogers Communications Inc. v. Voltage Pictures, LLC, et al., saying internet service providers are entitled to be reimbursed for their time spent sourcing information on customers’ internet usage, particularly those suspected of illegal downloads.  

Torys acted for Rogers and partner Andrew Bernstein was lead counsel.

Andrew told Canadian Lawyer the ruling was a “victory for everybody who has an internet subscription” as it removed the costly burden of providing subscriber records to copyright holders from Canadian internet service providers.

At the heart of the dispute was identifying what ISPs are obligated to do when they receive a court order asking them to identify their customers by IP address, and how these obligations interface with existing copyright legislation. Part of the problem is the sheer volume of claims: Voltage said it expected to be requesting more than 55,000 IP addresses across the industry.

But if ISPs are to be on the hook for incurring the costs and work necessary to process every identification claim received, as Rogers’ appeal application pointed out, the cost of processing tens of thousands of claims every year would ultimately be passed down to their customers.

The SCC ruling means this won’t be the case.

“It’s a victory for ISPs, and it’s a victory for everybody who has an internet subscription,” Andrew told Canadian Lawyer

“Voltage’s position was that subscribers should absorb the cost [associated with enforcing copyright].

“Rogers’ position is that it should be the copyright holder seeking the information that should absorb the cost, not the ISP, or subscribers.”

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