Are Fines Looming for Downloading Content?

The increasing popularity of illegal file-sharing over the past decade has spurred a backlash from music and media companies.

These companies have brought forth lawsuits to crack down on this widespread activity, but it has largely been unproductive. However, a recent federal court ruling in Montreal has the potential to changed the landscape to the benefit of the media companies.

The court case directly involved only 50 IP addresses, but a pending case has thousands of Canadians targeted in a campaign to stop Internet users from illegally downloading movies and other digital content.

The court decision means Canadians may have have to pay up to $5 000 in statutory damages for illegal downloading.

In addition, many media companies have hired technology firms to gather information on Canadians involved in peer-to-peer file sharing, often by identifying their IP Addresses.

Should people be be fined for downloading illegal content? What methods are acceptable to crack down on illegal file sharing? Are media companies involved in invasion of privacy? What role should the courts play?

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