• Canadian BitTorrent User Fined $60,000 By U.S. Court

    A new dimension was just added to the ongoing stream of BitTorrent lawsuits in the U.S. A Canadian BitTorrent user has been ordered to pay $60,000 by a U.S. District Court judge. The Calgary resident, who did not defend himself, was ordered to pay the damages for sharing two films on an adult-oriented BitTorrent tracker.

    Over the last year several mass-lawsuits were started against so-called ‘John Doe’ defendants, who are only identified by their IP-address. However, at the same time a handful of copyright holders have also launched cases against named BitTorrent users.
    One of these defendants was the Calgary, Canada-based Alan Phillips. The adult entertainment studio Corbin Fisher filed suit against Phillips, who they claim had illicitly shared two of their movies (“Turner F***s Austin” and “Keagan” ) on the BitTorrent tracker Gaytorrents.ru.

    While most BitTorrent sites treat the private information of their users confidentially, the Gaytorrent.ru operator kindly provided the copyright holder with information that could identify the defendant.
    According to information previously received by TorrentFreak, this is not the first time that GayTorrent has handed over the personal details of a member to a copyright holder without being required to by law.

    This compliance by GayTorrent allows Corbin Fisher to directly target defendants, instead of having to ask the court for a subpoena.
    In the initial complaint Corbin Fisher alleged that Phillips willingly infringed on its copyright, and the studio’s lawyer Marc Randazza asked U.S. District Court judge John Houston to award $50,000 in damages per movie, totaling 100,000. Although Phillipscomplained to the court in an attempt to get the case dismissed, he did not defend himself.

    Due to Phillips absence, Judge Houston was left with no choice but to order a default judgement as requested by the plaintiff.

    In his ruling Judge Houston rejects the studio’s claim that the infringement was willful, just because Phillips was savvy enough to use BitTorrent. This reduced the maximum damages from $150,000 to $30,000 per movie.

    Judge Houston did, however, rule that Phillips was guilty of copyright infringement.
    “The record, as presented does not support a finding of willfulness based solely on plaintiff’s speculative argument that BitTorrent requires technical knowledge such that a person using the application necessarily used it in order to defraud plaintiff.”
    “Thus, this Court finds that the increase in statutory damages suggested by plaintiff is not appropriately assessed here. In this Court’s view, statutory damages of $30,000 per infringed work, for a total of $60,000 plus attorneys’ fees is reasonable.”

    In total Alan Phillips was ordered to pay $63,867, which makes it one of the largest fines ever handed out to a P2P user in the U.S. Certainly the highest we know of where a foreign copyright infringer was targeted.
    “There are too many canadians who are under the mistaken impression that Canada does not respect copyrights,” lawyer Marc Randazza told TorrentFreak in a comment.
    “Canada is a signatory to international copyright treaties, and thus Canadians need to learn that the border does not insulate them from illegal activity,”
    “My client is delighted with the verdict,” he added.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. mjmacky's Avatar
      mjmacky -
      Being named in the suit would totally suck if you weren't openly gay.
    1. Hologram's Avatar
      Hologram -
      Just seen it on torrentfreak. Suits are flying all over the place. Good thing is that I'm in 3rd world country atm.