REGINA -- Movie and music publishers are keeping their eyes on SaskTel customers who are downloading content illegally.

"Throughout the last year we have sent 30,000 notifications to customers of alleged copyright infringement," Michelle Englot with SaskTel said.

SaskTel said when a copyright owner contacts the corporation about the distribution of illegal content, it's required by law to notify the customer whose IP address is associated with the illegal activity. This notice from SaskTel is a warning. The telecommunications company said even if you haven't downloaded illegal content, make sure you check if anyone else on your Wi-Fi network has.

"Customers certainty need to be aware of their personal information and personal connections," Englot said.

SaskTel is also warning customers to remove or delete all unauthorized copies of the infringing property from their computer or other systems. The notice the impacted customers have been receiving states:

“We urge you to act to address this copyright infringement, including:

  1. Remove or delete all unauthorized copies of the infringing property from your computer or other systems.
  2. Ensure your Internet account is not being used to copy or distribute infringing property in the future.

David Fraser is a lawyer based in Halifax who has been practising internet and privacy law for almost two decades. He said copyright owners of movies and music have found a way to sue multiple people at a time for one production.

"They found a way under our federal courts rules to start one lawsuit related to one production but name multiple John Doe defendants which makes it much easier for them to pursue one lawsuit against hundreds of possible defendants," Fraser said.

He agrees that if a customers receives a notice from SaskTel about illegal activity to remove that content from the electronic devices, but he said if the customers is served a lawsuit through registered mail, deleting the infringed content would then be illegal.

“Once you’ve receive noticed of a lawsuit, actually if you were to go and remove stuff from your computer that could be something called spoliation which is destruction of evidence,” Fraser said. “I would never advise a client to do that. Once you’ve received the mailed notice which is a court document, a statement of claim, you are a party to litigation whether you want it or not so you should not be removing any evidence from your electronic devices.”

Fraser said if a copyright owner wants to seek legal action against an alleged offender, the copyright owner will seek a court order to get the personal information from the telecommunications provider.

“It doesn’t mean that the Hollywood studio for example, knows who you are, all they have is an IP address,” Fraser said. “They are able to require that the internet service provider, like SaskTel, to save the customer name and address to information associated with the IP address so that they can go to court and get a court order requiring SaskTel to hand over the identifying information.”

Fraser said typical copyright infringement settlements are usually around $5,000. Fraser said he has recently noticed, Hollywood has been more interested in illegal downloads here in Canada.

"The studios are still maintaining that piracy is a significant problem that’s causing them significant economic losses,” Fraser said. “How true that is, I'm not sure but certaintly they are amping up their game in Canada going after people they believe are infringing their copyright."