Home > Copryight, P2P, Teksavvy, Voltage > Questions Remain as Teksavvy Refuses to Oppose Voltage

Questions Remain as Teksavvy Refuses to Oppose Voltage

Today Teksavvy appeared before a federal court judge with respect to handing over 2000 names and address of its customers to Hollywood studio Voltage. Lawyers for Teksavvy argued that an extension was needed due to some errors in tracking individuals down.  The judge sided with Teksavvy and the court has been adjourned on this case until January 17th, 2013 (assuming the Mya are not correct and world doesn’t end on Friday December 21st).

Teksavvy though is increasingly under scrutiny for its decision not to oppose the motion to hand over customers information.  Teksavvy CEO Marc Gaudrault basically stated in a recent post, that they didn’t oppose the motion in order to give notice to its customer base. Basically they made a deal with Voltage not to oppose the motion so that they have time to notify their customers.  Based on the decision from the courts today, in my view Teksavvy could have had a very good chance of obtaining the time needed to give notice as they did today and would still be free to oppose the motion without making a deal in the first place.

Howard Knopf (who was one of the presiding attorneys defending consumers privacy the last time the music industry tried to obtain subscribers information) has also chimed in questioning the decision of Teksavvy to not oppose Voltage’s request for information.  Knopf stated:

Despite Teksavvy’s openness concerning this issue, questions are still bound to arise why Teksavvy is not actually opposing this disclosure motion in 2012, as Shaw and Telus actively and successfully did in 2004, with Bell and Rogers taking a similar if less vigorous position. In this regard, it is interesting to compare Voltage’s material with the BMG et al material filed in 2004 that was rejected by the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal at that time as inadequate in a very comparable situation, as a result of which we now have clear and binding appellate case law.

Sometimes building a company that is strong on consumer values and rights can be a double edged sword when dealing with the businesses own interests.  I get that, however I think the motion to not oppose not just in Teksavvy’s case but in the 50 cases in prior weeks, raises serious concerns on whether any ISP will or even should go to bat to protect  its customer base, even from unreasonable requests for information.

Things have changed since 2004. We’ve had a highly charged national debate on copyright policy and highly charge political environment leading up to the new laws.  It’s understandable for ISPs now to take a back seat or tuck tail and run every time they deal with the content industry, but what they don’t realize is that they are also an integrated part within law around this debate.

It was truly remarkable to take part in the Canadian copyright consultations myself, and see first hand a unified consensus of our values on democracy and law.  Around copyright law consensus was made on NO MASS LAWSUITS, not just from the Canadian public but quite a few content creators as well. Government acted within law around that consensus to ensure Canadians that they were against mass lawsuits as well.  When faced with a test that is clearly against that consensus and just flee, does not represent of the majority of the public these ISPs serve, nor do I believe is representative of the Canadian spirit. In the face of oppression, and what we don’t feel is right, Canadians as a society have always banded together. We don’t flee the battlefield.

I think the debate is now just beginning on what role the private industry has to stand up for our Canadian values, and the costs to businesses when they do not.  This is especially the case when our privacy laws are being tested by numerous private interests on an almost daily basis online, and public concerns that private industry is not doing enough to secure Canadians information.  One expects arguments around users privacy to come from the CIPPIC, and I think many are disappointed to see another private business yet again cave to Hollywood and abandon the very core principles in which the company has been based on.

Strong words I know, however Canadians sent a very strong message on their privacy regarding lawful access legislation.  What precedent does this set if/when that system is put into place?  Can Canadians expect that unreasonable and unlawful requests for users information will go unchecked at the source?  It’s time private industry gets its head out of the sand, and stand up for Canadian values. We are so fortunate to have the CIPPIC to do just that when private industry fails.

Privacy issues aside, there is still no guarantee that the CIPPIC motion of intent intervene in the Teksavvy case was accepted by the presiding judge. The judge read the letter from the CIPPIC, and the CIPPIC was not allowed to speak. The judge ruled on a motion by Teksavvy’s lawyer to adjourn based on some errors in finding people for notification, and they needed more time.

In the CIPPIC’s motion it had requested some evidence to be presented in court at the time of the next sitting of this case if the case was adjourned, so I guess the success of that letter could be judged on if the judge orders Voltage to cough up this evidence before the 17th and be present at the next sitting.

Stay tuned…

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