Bell, Rogers and other Canadian media companies were awarded nearly $30 million in damages in a Federal Court ruling in a lawsuit against retailers selling Android-powered set-top boxes that streamed unauthorized and pirated content.
L3D Distributing Inc. doing business as (dba) INL3D, Morcor Computers 2000 LTD., Ottawa Tek Corporation dba Ottawa Tek Communications and Raheel Rafiq will need to pay a combined $29.3 million in statutory damages. The payment will go to Bell (including Bell Canada, Expressvu Limited Partnership and Bell Media), Vidéotron, Group TVA, Rogers Communications and Rogers Media.
In the published decision, Justice Janet Fuhrer wrote that the defendants “have advertised and sold pre-loaded set top boxes and IPTV services in Canada online and at brick-and-mortar locations, thus providing unauthorized access to the Plaintiffs’ content.”
Fuhrer goes on to note that the defendants did not respond to or participate in the action, and therefore she granted default judgment against them. The statutory damages amount to $10,000 per infringed work, which breaks down as follows:
In a press release, Bell welcomed the ruling.
“Bell invests hundreds of millions of dollars every year to develop, produce, acquire and deliver great Canadian and international content over multiple platforms, but content piracy continues to undermine the entire media industry, including the work of many Canadians,” said Wade Oosterman, president of Bell Media and vice chair of BCE, in a release.
Bell’s release goes on to argue that TV piracy costs Canadian broadcasters and distributors $500 million to $650 million per year. The company also took an opportunity to talk about its support of a “comprehensive approach” that would leverage the federal government and CRTC to reduce content piracy by removing stolen content from online platforms and blocking access to websites distributing illegal content.
However, that plan has been extensively criticized for its disproportionate response to piracy and for the potential threat to internet access it poses, such as rampant over-blocking that could threaten access to legitimate content and websites. While piracy is a concern, making it easier and more affordable to access content is a great way to reduce piracy.