On 24 March 2022, the Supreme Court of Canada denied Teksavvy Solutions Inc's application for leave to appeal a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal,(1) affirming the Federal Court's decision in Bell Media Inc et al v Goldtv.biz et al,(2) which enjoined Canada's main internet service providers (ISPs) to block their subscribers' access to certain piracy websites.
This decision confirms once and for all that site-blocking orders are available in Canada, and is another major victory for Canadian copyright holders in the fight against online piracy.
On 17 July 2019, Bell Media Inc, Groupe TVA Inc and Rogers Media Inc (the plaintiffs) filed an action for copyright infringement against the anonymous developers behind two highly popular unauthorised subscription services that operate under the name GoldTV (GoldTV Services), which distribute a vast amount of content owned by the plaintiffs and third parties (for further information, see "Federal Court issues unprecedented site-blocking order requiring Internet Service Providers to impede access to piracy services"). Despite the issuance of interim and interlocutory injunctions against the GoldTV Services in July and August 2019, some of the services remained in operation, leaving the plaintiffs without an apparent recourse.
In that context, the plaintiffs sought and ultimately obtained an order compelling Canada's major ISPs to block their subscribers from accessing the GoldTV Services. This remedy, known as a "site-blocking order", was the first of its kind in Canada, but has been available to copyright owners in other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, France and Australia.
Teksavvy Solutions, an ISP that had opposed the issuance of the site-blocking order before the Federal Court, challenged the order in an appeal before the Federal Court of Appeal, which unanimously confirmed its validity on 26 May 2021 (for further information, see "You sunk my pirate ship: Federal Court of Appeal upholds first anti-piracy site-blocking order").
Teksavvy Solutions sought leave to appeal the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada on the basis that the Federal Court did not have jurisdiction to issue such an order under the Copyright Act and that the framework applied for its issuance was inappropriate, notably because of freedom of expression concerns.
The Supreme Court of Canada denied Teksavvy Solutions' leave to appeal.(3) As is typically the case in applications for leave to appeal, the Supreme Court did not provide reasons for its decision.
For further information on this topic please contact Olivier Jean-Lévesque at Smart & Biggar by telephone (+1 514 954 1500) or email ([email protected]). The Smart & Biggar website can be accessed at www.smartbiggar.ca.