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Injunction Order to Block Illegal Websites: A First in Canada

Frédéric Letendre

YULEX, Attorneys and Strategists, LLP

On November 15, 2019, the Federal Court of Canada issued an injunction order requiring some of the country’s largest Internet service providers to block access to their users to certain websites operated by anonymous persons whose content infringed the copyright of third parties in online television programs.

The plaintiffs in this case[1], Bell Media Inc., TVA Group Inc. and Rogers Media Inc., broadcast various television programs through online or streaming television services. In their motion, the plaintiffs claim that the defendants operate unauthorized subscription services that allow their users to access their content on the Internet, contrary to the Copyright Act[2], under the name "GoldTV". They therefore asked the Court to order the concerned Internet service providers to block their users' access to these websites. Only one of the service providers opposed the motion. The defendants, responsible for the illegal websites, have not appeared in court and remain unknown to date.

The Court granted the plaintiffs' request and granted the Internet service providers a 15-day period to block their users' access to the websites listed in the order. The Court has indicated that this list may be amended to add or delete certain domain names or IP addresses at any time under its supervision. The plaintiffs will have to compensate the service providers for the reasonable costs of complying with the order and any updates, including costs related to third party claims as a result of these changes. This order will expire two years after its date of issue, unless the Court decides otherwise.

Although injunction orders to block illegal websites have been issued in other countries, including Australia, France and the United Kingdom, this is a first for Canada. Indeed, this decision is based on a recent British decision on these issues. In any case, web-related issues are still relatively new. This could involve drawing on what is being done abroad to establish best practices for the future. If you would like to know more about another recent decision on web-related issues, feel free to consult my colleague Dominique Lavin's article here.

Finally, we hope that this decision will serve as a precedent for providing copyright owners whose rights have been infringed with an effective remedy to prevent access to illegal content on the Internet in Canada.

Feel free to contact YULEX, Attorneys and strategists if you have any questions.

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[1] Bell Media Inc. et al v. John Doe 1 dba GoldTV.biz et al., 2019 FC 1432 (Bell Media).

[2] Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42)

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