The Canadian Company Helping Movie Studios Sue You for Illegal Downloading Has Been Using Images Without Permission
May 14 2013
A screencap from Canipre's website
As you may already know, Voltage Pictures, the company responsible for the movie The Hurt Locker, (as well as a million movies you've never heard of) is currently in court, attempting to get an Ontario-based internet service provider to release the names associated with over 1000 IP addresses that they claim belong to people who illegally downloaded their copyrighted material.
These IP addresses were gathered by an extraordinarily douchey company called Canipre, the only antipiracy enforcement firm currently offering services in Canada.
Canipre, as a company, offers to track down people who are illegally downloading copyrighted material from record companies and film studios. According to their website, they have issued more than 3,500,000 takedown notices, and their work has led to multimillion dollar damages awards, injunctions, seizure of assets, and even incarceration.
But it's not like Canipre is doing this just to get rich. In a recent interview, Canipre's managing director Barry Logan explained that it's about much more than just money—he's hoping to teach the Canadian public a moral lesson:
"[We want to] change social attitudes toward downloading. Many people know it is illegal but they continue to do it... Our collective goal is not to sue everybody… but to change the sense of entitlement that people have, regarding Internet-based theft of property.”
Here is a screenshot of the front page of the Canipre website as it appeared when I visited it this morning.
The image you see in the background is this self portrait, by Steve Houk.
I contacted Steve and asked if they had sought permission to use the picture. Steve said, "No. In no way have I authorized or licensed this image to anyone in any way."
So, just to be clear: Canipre has written "they all know it's wrong and they're still doing it." Referring to copyright theft. On top of an image that they are using without the permission of the copyright holder. On their official website.
Here is another screencap of their site. The image you see in the background this time is this image by Sascha Pohflepp.
I contacted Sascha and asked if Canipre had permission to use this image. Once again, they did not.
What's even more remarkable with their use of this image is that the photo is available under the Creative Commons license. Meaning that, if Canipre did want to use the image for free, all they would have to do is attribute the photographer. Which they did not do.
In closing, here is another quote from Barry Logan, that Canipre executive we heard from earlier, "[Canadians have] a pervasive sense of entitlement... [Illegally] downloading content should also be socially unacceptable.”
We have reached out to the photographers who took the other images used on the Canipre website, and will update this post as they respond.
UPDATE I: Steve Houk's image seems to have been removed from the Canipre website.
UPDATE II: Steve Houk wrote us a few minutes ago to say:
I sent them an e-mail via their website. I identified the image, told them that it is my creative property under copyright and requested that they either remove the image from their site or compensate me for its use.
I also told them that it was disheartening to see a company the champions intellectual property rights to pirate someone else's creative work.
I ended up getting a flurry of phone calls and e-mails from a guy named Barry Logan.
Logan claimed that the company used a 3rd party vendor to develop their website and that the vendor had purchased the image from an image bank.
I pointed out to Logan that if that was true, he had basically paid his vendor to rip off other people's creative work. Logan told me that he would contact his web provider and have the image removed. He also told me that he would provide me with the name of the website developer and the name of the image bank where they obtained my photo.
I did notice that they took down my photo, but I have not heard back from Logan regarding the name of the developer and where they sourced my image. I plan to contact Logan later today if he doesn't get back to me. [sic]
We'll update again when/if Steve hears back from Mr. Logan.
UPDATE III: Brian Moore, the guy who took this photo, which also appears on Canipre's webiste (screenshot below) also wrote us:
That's amazing. No, I did not give them permission as far as I know.
Go get 'em. Let me know if you need anything (quotes, content, etc.) from me.
Brian's photo, like Sascha's, was available under the Creative Commons liscense, meaning Canipre could have legally used this photo had they provided proper attribution.
More stuff about copyright theft: