University of Manitoba students receive 'extortion' letters over illegal downloads

CBC News, Sept 13, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Students at the the University of Manitoba are being sent letters that demand payment and threaten huge sanctions over alleged copyright violations. "It's a tad frustrating when we see some of the messages that have content that really borders on extortion," said Joel Guénette, the University of Manitoba's copyright strategy manager. The university is advising students not to respond and not to pay the requested amount, because this may just spur the companies to ask for more money in the future. "In the past, Guénette said, the school simply discarded the notices, but under the new legislation, the university must forward them to students." All this is the result of new copyright laws that came into effect last year. "Guénette said it's common for students to be threatened with multimillion-dollar lawsuits, especially when the content is pornographic or 'perhaps more of a sensitive nature,' he said. The maximum fine for copyright violation in Canada is $5,000."

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