Canadian platforms win TVAddons victory

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Canadian cable and media players have secured a significant victory in their battle against pirated content with a panel of federal judges backing their appeal in a legal battle against the Montreal-based operator of a website that makes it easier to stream video online.

BCE Inc., Quebecor Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. launched legal proceedings in June 2017 against Adam Lackman doing business as TVAddons, a website with a library of software add-ons that enable video streaming on Android set-top boxes.

The companies alleged that Lackman infringed copyright by providing a “platform of copyright piracy” and asked the court for an injunction to cease operating while the case was ongoing Lackman contended that his website was akin to a mini Google search engine, a conduit that isn’t responsible for content provided by third parties.

A judge initially granted the companies an interim injunction and what’s known as an Anton Piller order’, the right to search premises and seize evidence without prior warning. That search led to nine hours of questioning and the seizure of Lackman’s domain and social media passwords. However. the case was delayed after a second judge dismissed the motion for an extended injunction and vacated the Anton Piller order, on the basis that it was conducted improperly.

The companies appealed the second judge’s decision and the Federal Court of Appeal ruled in their favour on February 21st.

Justice Yves de Montigny ruled the Anton Piller order was lawfully conducted and issued an injunction against TVAddons that will stand until the conclusion of the copyright case.

“I fail to understand how the respondent can cloak himself in the shroud of an innocent disseminator, when his website clearly targets those who want to circumvent the legal means of watching television programs and the related costs,” de Montigny wrote.

Bell, Rogers and Quebecor are members the FairPlay Canada coalition that has asked broadcast regulator CRTC to create an agency with the power to block sites offering pirated content.

“While we are very pleased with the outcome of this appeal, we have to recognise that this proceeding addresses piracy by just one individual,” commented Bell spokesman Marc Choma. “More efficient structural solutions are also necessary to combat content piracy, which is why Bell supports FairPlay Canada’s application to the CRTC.”

“We’re all for streaming and new ways of watching content, but pirating content means that content creators don’t get paid for their work, and that’s not fair,” declared Rogers’ Sarah Schmidt.

Lackman maintains that TVAddons never hosted video or any type of infringing content, arguing that the case hurts the development of disruptive technology in Canada.


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