Federal Court of Canada issues unprecedented ruling ordering ISPs to block piracy service

Internet service providers have 15 days to block their customers from accessing GoldTV

An image of the Canadian flag blowing in the wind against a backdrop of clouds

The Federal Court of Canada has ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to GoldTV, which is a pirate IPTV service.

This is the first time that a nationwide blocking has been ordered in the country. The ruling comes after Bell, Rogers and Quebecor formally requested an order that would block customers from accessing GoldTV.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications review rejected the idea after which the ISPs filed a lawsuit. The federal court has now ruled that blocking the IPTV service would not infringe on freedom of expression or net neutrality.

The government has a net neutrality framework in place through the CRTC in reference to legal content. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains previously stated that “all legal content must be treated equally by internet service providers.”

The judge has ordered ISPs to block their customers from accessing GoldTV within 15 days of the court decision on November 15th.

A representative for the plaintiffs, Rogers Media, Bell Media and Groupe TVA issued a statement to MobileSyrup regarding the case.

“Content theft remains a critical threat to Canada’s creative sector, impacting rights holders and creators across the industry and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and thousands of lost jobs,” the joint statement reads.

“Similar court orders are regularly issued by courts in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and France, and require Internet Service Providers to simply disable access to sites distributing illegal content. Our clients have now been granted the same remedy in Canada,” the statement concludes.

TekSavvy was the only ISP to oppose the ruling during the court proceedings citing the belief that companies should not be responsible for the content of the traffic on their networks.

“TekSavvy opposed the original motion because a blocking order is a grave violation of network neutrality and a fundamental change to what we do as Internet service providers,” a spokesperson told MobileSyrup in an email.

The telecommunications company stated that site-blocking falls under the CRTC’s mandate as it is set out in the Telecommunications Act and that it is only warranted in exceptional circumstances.

“As unsympathetic as GoldTV may be, TekSavvy’s view is that it does not represent such an urgent harm to the plaintiffs or to society that stopping its copyright infringing activities would justify such a fundamental change in the nature of the Internet in Canada,” the spokesperson said.

The judge ordered that site-blocking has proven to be effective in other jurisdictions and that blocking the infringing service is an effective means of limiting harm.

The court considered that this order could lead to GoldTV being substituted by another infringing service, but that the possibility of substitutions is not enough grounds to weigh against the ruling.

Source: Federal Court of Canada 

Update 18/11/19: The article was updated to include a statement from the plaintiffs.