TekSavvy Solutions Inc. has appealed a Federal Court order instructing Canada’s internet service providers to block a website offering pirated content, arguing that the ruling infringes on the free-speech rights of the country’s internet users.
The internet service provider (ISP) argues in court documents that the Nov. 15 ruling against IPTV service GoldTV – the first such website-blocking order ever issued in Canada – amounts to a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Bell Media Inc., Rogers Media Inc. and Groupe TVA Inc. had applied to the court, asking that a number of third-party respondents – including TekSavvy, Telus Communications Inc., Distributel Communications Ltd. and Videotron Ltd. – take steps to block their customers from accessing websites operated by the anonymous operators of GoldTV.
The media companies said GoldTV is selling subscription services that provide customers with access to programming content to which GoldTV does not own the rights. Last summer, the court granted two injunctions ordering GoldTV to cease operating, but the injunctions have been ignored.
Earlier this month, Federal Court Justice Patrick Gleeson granted the website-blocking order requested by Bell, Rogers and Groupe TVA, giving ISPs 15 days to comply.
In his ruling, Justice Gleeson wrote that he is “not convinced” that net neutrality – the principle that ISPs must treat all internet content equally – requires internet service providers to facilitate illegal activity.
The order sparked criticism from some industry experts and consumer advocates, who cautioned that the ruling could lead to a flood of other site-blocking cases and ultimately create a burden for the courts.
TekSavvy outlined a number of other grounds for its appeal, arguing that the judge made several legal errors, including in his application and interpretation of the Copyright Act and the Telecommunications Act.
Guillaume Lavoie Ste-Marie, a lawyer at Smart & Biggar LLP who represented the media companies, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.