Federal Court of Canada plunders $10.5m from Canadian pirate

In the case of Fox v Hernandez, the Federal Court of Canada has issued a default judgement granting an injunction and significant damages to media giant Twentieth Century Fox. The defendant (an online pirate), named Nicholas Hernandez had been infringing Twentieth Century Fox’s copyrights in The Simpsons and Family Guy in various ways by copying, uploading, providing access to streams and downloads and by making money from the websites used to upload the episodes.

The Judge, Mr Justice Campbell stated that:

“Hernandez’s infringement has been in bad faith and for commercial purposes and he has received revenue from his infringing activities on the false pretence that such activities are lawful.”

On this basis, the Judge awarded Twentieth Century Fox $10,000,000 in statutory damages, an additional $500,000 in punitive damages and final costs of $78,000 plus interest.

It was found that Twentieth Century Fox held the copyright in each individual episode of the programmes. Also, the Canadian Copyright Act imposes a cap of $20,000 per work for maximum statutory damages in commercial infringement, which means that the defendant uploaded a minimum of 500 individual episodes.

The Judge in the case made it extremely clear that such large damages were necessary not only to punish the defendant adequately, but to also deter further copyright infringements by others.

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