A federal court in Canada has ordered all the country’s internet service providers (ISPs) to block a company from offering pirated television channels online.
This is the first time that Canada has ordered a nationwide ISP blocking order, which some believe is setting a precedent that could have negative consequences in the future.
The order blocks a company called Gold TV, which offers customers 4,000 live television channels online for as little as 15 Canadian dollars a month, in both high and standard definition. Among the channels it offers include ESPN, BBC, Animal Planet and a slew of popular Canadian channels.
A coalition of large Canadian media companies, which includes Bell Media, Groupe TVA and Rogers Media, insists that Gold has not licensed the rights to the shows that it is broadcasting.
The judge in the case has given the nation’s ISPs 15 days to comply with the order.
The coalition issued a statement in response to the court order. It said, “Content theft remains a critical threat to Canada’s creative sector, impacting rights holders and creators across the industry and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and thousands of lost jobs.”
They further insist that similar orders have been given in countries such as United Kingdom, Australia and France.
But not everyone in Canada is happy with the order.
Michael Geist, who is a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said, “Once you start inviting site blocking it won’t surprise people if we start seeing other groups who have their own issues and their own perceived harms argue that we ought to adopt the same approach for their issue. The so-called slippery slope is a very real concern.”
Some ISPs are not happy, either. Andy Kaplan-Myrth, who is vice president of TekSavvy, said that a “blocking order is a grave violation of network neutrality and a fundamental change to what we do as internet service providers.”