Copyright Holders Intervene to Support Canadian Pirate Site Blocks in Court

  • September 22, 2020
  • Yonida Koukio

Representatives from the music, publishing, and sports industries intervened in TekSavvy's appeal from the decision of the Federal Court of Canada in Bell Media Inc. et al v GOLDTV.BIZ 2019 FC 1432 (the “FC decision”). The FC decision ordered certain ISPs in Canada to block access to pirate subscription streaming sites, that is, and, which were infringing the copyrights of the plaintiffs Bell Media Inc., Groupe TVA Inc, and Rogers Media Inc. This is the first decision in which Canadian courts ordered sites to be blocked for copyright infringement.

Arguing in favor of Canada's court-ordered pirate site blocks, the interveners argue in their Memorandum of Fact and Law (the “Memorandum”) that at least 42 countries have adopted and implemented blocking orders directed at internet service providers (“ISPs”). They additionally claim that blocking orders represent one of the only means available to disrupt illegal business models, including the mass dissemination of infringing copyrighted material.

Citing the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Google v Equustek, 2017 SCC 34 (“Equustek”) and the Federal Courts Act, the Interveners claim that the Federal Court of Appeal has equitable jurisdiction and specifically the power to grant an injunction to achieve a just result in novel situations, such as the case at hand. They argue that the powers of the court with equitable jurisdiction are not limited in this case neither by the Copyright Act nor the Telecommunications Act, which is consistent with Canada’s international treaty obligations.

The Interveners also argue that the blocking orders do not contravene the net neutrality principle enshrined in the Copyright Act and the Telecommunications Act. In their arguments they state that “[a]lthough the precise scope of net neutrality is not universally agreed upon or well-defined, it is clear that the international consensus is that it does not operate to protect unlawful conduct."