The Canadian Government has enacted a law that puts a limit on the damages awarded in cases of non-commercial copyright infringement. That limit is set at a modest 5,000 Canadian dollars. This stops disproportionate fines, such as those that have been awarded in United States, Europe, and Australia, which have reached in upwards of almost half a billion dollars.
From the Government’s F.A.Q. on the bill:
“Under current law, for commercial and non-commercial infringements, copyright owners can sue for statutory damages ranging from $500 to $20,000 for each work that is infringed. This Bill will dramatically reduce an individual’s potential liability in cases of non-commercial infringement. In such cases, statutory damages will be reduced to a one-time payment of between $100 and $5000 for all infringements that took place prior to the lawsuit.”
While this is certainly good news for those who may or may not be caught red-handed with copious amounts of pirated music and movies, some don’t realize just how good this news actually is. Consider this – the Canadian Government just made it more costly for the record and movie companies to bring suit against an individual than the maximum potential reward in such a suit. Unless the record and movie companies are stupid (they’ve certainly shown their stupidity in the past), there would be absolutely no reason to bring suit against an individual infringer.
They just passed a green-light for online file-sharing without necessarily meaning to.