Videotron Will Not Dispute Court Order to Hand Over Customers' Information

Trisha Richards

04/26/2005 -- In an attempt to stop file sharing, Videotron, an internet and cable service provider in Quebec, is prepared to hand over the identities of people allegedly sharing large volumes of songs online, if ordered to do so by court.

Videotron's lawyers say they have no problem handing those names over if there is a court order because it's a regular procedure if a court order is issued.

The decision could result in lawsuits against anyone illegally sharing music online.

Videotron's statement came after a hearing at the Federal Court of Appeal about file swapping. Four judges heard arguments from both sides about privacy and copyright laws.

The case is currently being reviewed. The key issue is whether the Canadian Copyright Act is violated when people put songs up online. A decision should be made by late summer.

The Canadian Recording Industry Association's lawyers say in order to lay copyright infringement charges against 29 people who've been labeled as "large scale uploaders", they need their names.

Videotron has agreed with the music industry's claim that putting songs into these networks is copyright infringement, The Canadian Press reports. They say it's doesn't make sense for other companies to fight the court order, since many of them own entertainment networks and are part of groups that are losing money due to free file sharing.

Videotron has one of the strictest confidentiality codes for protecting the identity of its customers, a representative for Videotron says. And it always requires a court order before disclosing a customer's name.

But Videotron is the only company that is willing to turn over its customers' information with a court order. Other providers, including Shaw Communications, Rogers Cable Communications, Bell Canada and Telus Communications, are fighting for the right to keep the information private. They say there's no way to prove whether the IP address belongs to the person doing the uploading. They are also concerned about how the industry found that these IP addresses belong to the users of the sharing networks, since most use online nicknames.

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