Who should be legally responsible for the video torrent downloading?

Jie Chen


Hey, I’m Jie and I’m worried about this letter…what should I do with it? Will I really have to pay a $5000 for a downloading a video file online? Or should I just ignore it and keep living my life as before? So many people download stuff from the Internet, why should I be caught and be blamed? Should I stop using my laptop for downloading at home and start downloading only on public Wi-Fi? Is peer-to-peer file sharing online as a harmful crime as gun shooting and drug selling? Why was I chosen? Does everyone get these letters?

A few weeks ago, I received an email notice from my Internet service provider- Bell. It said I have to pay $5000 for downloading a TV episode and I’m involved in copyright infringement. I’m freaking out at the point. I’m not a bad person… am I? I have never done something illegal before, at school or any other place. Wait a second, actually, I downloaded episode 1 of American Horror story Season 5 in Kickass, a torrent-downloading site. You know, I’m a super fan of American Horror story. So I looked for it online and most of the links take me to steaming sites which have advertisements and seem like they might give my computer viruses. But I still want to watch it so, so badly. A safe site that my friend told me about is Kickass. It was easy to find my episode and doesn’t take any time to download it. So I did it… and now, I’ve been caught and fined.

Who should be responsible for illegal downloading? Me or Kickass? The downloader or the website that make downloading possible? Why is this illegal site allowed to exist in the first place? Why aren’t they responsible for the illegal behavior they’re making possible?

Kick-Ass is one of the most visited torrent sites in the world since 2008. It uses a peer-to-peer file sharing system. We offer a variety of types of files for downloading such as TV shows and movies. No worry about the membership fee and low quality files, you can immediately got access to these video files and keep them on your own hard drive. Isn’t that the best? We offer free, high speed, safe and convenient downloading experience- better than anything else. Check out our website at www.kickass.com today, start enjoy unlimited download of your favorite TV shows and movies right away!

That was Paula, a YouTuber who’s promoting the site…

Hey…But Is the torrent site really that wonderful? Does it really cost less than buying a DVD…? Do you think it’s worth the risks?

The risks of computer viruses, of fines for illegal downloading, of the exposure of your personal data… Every time when you are downloading something in torrent sites, you may download viruses onto your computer as a special gift. What is the worst, your personal data maybe recorded by the website. Also, your online identity – your IP Address, can easily be tracked by the site. So it’s extremely dangerous if you consider this “trustful” site as your primary choice for watching TV shows or movies.

That’s reporter, Amy. Most countries have determined that the downloader should be the responsible person for illegal torrent downloading. For example:

In Germany, Internet subscribers bear responsibility for everything connected to their personal computers. No matter what they upload or download online, they will face a legal case if they get caught doing anything illegal (Andy).

France uses a ”Three strike” rule. Copyright holders monitor peer-to-peer file sharing sites like Kickass. When they find people download illegally, they ask the Internet provider to send a notice to the downloader.  (Ranaivoson & Lorrain)…

In the United States, the situation is very complicated. The major movie and TV show companies can send the DMCA notices to Internet subscribers who have downloaded their products through peer-to-peer sharing network. But the individuals often ignore the letter, so the US applies a six-stage warning system to replace the DMCA notice. This system has been used by major movie theaters, rental shops and TV companies. If you download many video files owned by these companies, you will be monitored and can be caught as an illegal downloader (Cheng).

After all this, you may wonder what attitude does Canadian government have.

From the beginning of 2015, the Copyright law demands that Internet service providers send notifications to downloaders whose online activities have been identified as a copyright infringement. A non-commercial downloader can be sued for $5000, and a commercial downloader will face $20,000 per case. It seems similar to the DMCA notice in the US and the “Three strikes” rule in France. It is what I got for the downloading through the torrent site (Sunny).

Most downloaders think they are the victims of torrent downloading; they often be considered as the responsible person. As we see in Canada, downloaders have to pay $5000 dollar per case. However, in reality, most copyright companies won’t sue the downloaders, they are mostly just baring their teeth (Reuters). But why do they keep sending the notices even though they won’t actually get money back? What we should know behind these notices?

This is Tom Canton, by the way.

My name is Tom Canton and I’m an independent filmmaker here in Toronto.

1. We don’t know the business mode behind production companies, why these companies try to get money from the downloaders?

Well, they are not trying to get money from the downloaders for the most part, and that's what a lot of people misunderstand. What they are doing now is sending out notices through the ISP (Internet Service Provider). They have your IP Address, they will email you a notice from the production company, usually a major Hollywood studio. But the thing is that it’s hard to prove in court that somebody actually downloaded something illegally, especially if you are on the Wi-Fi network. Anybody could hack into that network, download, if you are in the public Wi-Fi space like a Starbucks or something, you can download a movie there, it’s hard to prove. What they are after was that people who make their product available for upload. They were after the people to upload the movie for everyone to get.

Now there is certain cost that you will have to pay if you are found guilty. One of the reason why do tend to do it, if they chose to. So it’s not always the matter of cost per income. But, at the same time, not many corporations will go to court based on principle. They would go to court if they can make money.

They would get a company like CEG Tech, they are like an anti-pirates’ company that has been working in the States for a while, and they just started working here earlier this year, in 2015. And in my opinion, these guys are like copyright’s trolls. They try to scare people into paying a settlement, when there has been no prove of any law being broken. They sent those notices out, it allows them to demand a settlement from anywhere between $150 and $450. Now, nobody is under any obligation to pay these, and CEG has been accused of bullying tackles, because they don't want to take you to court, because they know they’ll lose. They just want you to pay and go away.

2. In my research, the copyright law in Unites States is much stronger than Canadian copyright law; will the Unites States becomes a future example of Canada?

United States Copyright law maybe more strict than ours. But you have to go with what’s effective in achieving the goal you want to achieve. As I said last couple years, pirating in United States is going up around 160 percent. In Canada, this year alone downloads reports almost 70 percent. A lot of illegal downloading are gone. Right now, we are achieving the goals we want to. What happen in the future will happen. New technologies will always arise, there will always be a need to revise and revisit the copyright law.

3. So what’s the basic difference between illegal downloading and peer-to-peer file sharing system? Is there any boundary between them?

First of all, you don’t need file to file sharing. That’s striate forward to illegal downloading. You don’t put a personal file or home video on the pirate bay, you know, for your friends to see. But theses site are sort of avoiding the law, not so much reasonedly, for the few times. They try to avoid the law by not having any illegal content on their severer. So if I upload illegal content, me, as the downloader, will obtain the illegal content. But pirate bay has nothing on their servicer. But peer-to-peer is not serve anyone’s need except for pirates. If you want to share your own videos, you go on the Facebook, you email, you can do a number of things, putting on the Instagram. Peer-to-peer sites are mainly just illegal downloading sites. Even though like torrent bay, most of them, don’t have any actual illegal content in their service, but they facilitate all these different people who have the movies that allowed you to download.

My opinion towards this issue is that although downloaders have to hold the responsibility of illegal downloading, the torrent sites and uploarders should also be responsible for it. Illegal downloading won’t be an issue if there’s no place in the Internet for people to share those pirate videos. Today, most country’s copyright law determines that the downloaders should be the only person to be blamed. My suggestion is that: DO NOT download from those websites if you don’t want to get into trouble.

While, as the world is changing everyday, maybe we will get more freedom to watch and download our favorite TV shows and movies online in the future. After all, arts created from people, and should be enjoyed by people.

For more detailed about the legal perspective of illegal downloading in different countries, you are welcome to check this link:


If you are interested in France copyright law, you can check my blog posting for more details. Here’s the link:


Work cited

“Canada’s New Unauthorized Downloading Rules: A Q&A with Micheal Geist.” Freeman,Sunny. Jan, 08,2015.

Cheng, Fa-Chang. “Legal Protection Intellectual Property: The changing Attitude of US and its influence on Taiwan.” Journal of Intellectual Property Rights 18 (2013): 39-46. January, 2013.

“Canada to copyright holders: Stop threatening Canadian illegally downloading your stuff with penalties that don’t exist.” Reuters. Jan,12, 2015.

“Don’t download that bro, you’re going to get busted!” Andy. Mar, 16, 2013.

Ranaivoson,Heritiana, and Lorrain, Anne-Cathrine. “Graduated response beyond the copyright balance: why and how the French HADOPI takes consumers as targets.” Info 14.6(2012): 31-44. 23, Oct, 2015.

Roster,L. 2015. Love wins was written in the celebration of the SCOTUS decision ruling in favour of same-sex marriage nation wide.

Roster,L. 2013. Illuminations was composed,produced and performed by LR SOCAN 2013.