Canadian Federal Court Issues Pirate Site Blocking Measure

In response to a lawsuit from FairPlay, a coalition of major broadcasting and telco companies, the Canadian Federal Court issued its first pirate site blocking order. The order requires major ISPs to block the domains/IP addresses of GoldTV, a pirate IPTV service, and also opens the door to a more comprehensive push to block other pirate sites. FairPlay also wants to see the implementation of a national pirate site-blocking initiative. CRTC, Canada’s telco regulator, denied the first request, saying it had no jurisdiction.

TorrentFreak reports that CRTC’s rejection led Bell, Rogers, Groupe TVA and others to form a coalition and file a lawsuit against the operators of GoldTV, which stated that the pirate site “provides access to their TV content without licenses or authorization.”

An interim injunction to stop the “unidentified operators” was granted, but “despite the order, some of the infrastructures remained available.” That led to the coalition’s “follow-up request … which became the setup for the first-ever pirate site blocking order in Canada.”

Federal Court Judge Patrick Gleeson ordered that “most of Canada’s largest ISPs, including Cogeco, Rogers, Bell, Eastlink and, TekSavvy … start blocking their customers’ access to GoldTV within 15 days.” TorrentFreak calls the order “unique in North America” and notes that it “relies heavily on U.K. jurisprudence … [and] can be extended with new IP-addresses and domain names, if those provide access to the same IPTV service.” With regard to blocking options, the court mentioned DNS and IP-address blocking.

TekSavvy objected to the order, stating that, “blocking websites isn’t very effective, as subscribers have plenty of workarounds they can try, including VPNs … [and that] many smaller ISPs are not affected by the order, which means that they don’t have to block the service.”

“It’s clear from the evidence that site-blocking will not eliminate user access to infringing services,” responded Gleeson. “However, the evidence does establish that in those jurisdictions where site-blocking measures have been implemented there has been a significant reduction in visits to infringing websites.”

TekSavvy also argued that it would be expensive to implement a site-blocking system, but Gleeson didn’t accept that argument, since “TekSavvy can rely on DNS and IP-address blocking, which it’s already technically capable of.”

Last, TekSavvy stated that site-blocking violates net neutrality and freedom of speech, but Gleeson wrote in his judgment that, “neither net neutrality nor freedom of expression concerns tip the balance against granting the relief sought.” It’s unknown if TekSavvy — or any other ISP — plans to appeal the measure, which has been “a point of debate in Canada over the past several months.”