For the first time ever, a Federal Court has ordered Canada’s internet service providers to block websites for a company offering pirated television streaming online.
According to a 2018 study published by Canadian broadband management company Sandvine, 5.5% of US and Canadian households use pirate IPTV services. The black market industry is estimated to be worth more than a billion dollars worldwide.
The precedent-setting move is the first time such an order has been made in Canada, and a judge says ISPs have 15 days to comply.
The decision affects Gold TV, an IPTV service that offers thousands of traditional TV channels streaming over internet networks for a nominal fee.
Earlier this year, a coalition of Canadian telecommunications companies and ISPs — Bell Media, Groupe TVA and Rogers Media — filed a complaint in a federal court saying GoldTV.ca was selling subscriptions to numerous channels without owning the rights.
But fellow ISP TekSavvy opposed the measures and said the court should rely on the “specialized expertise” of the CRTC, rather than exercise its own jurisdiction on the matter. The company also raised concerns that ISPs would be faced with “hundreds or even thousands” of site-blocking orders in the future, and that could put a “significant strain” on its resources.
The judge acknowledged an internet censorship order of this nature hasn’t been previously made in Canada, though something similar has been issued in the United Kingdom.
GoldTV.ca billed itself as “Canada’s premium IPTV provider” offering 4,000 live TV channels in standard and high definition for as little as $15 per month. Among the Canadian TV channels its website offered were Citytv, CTV, Global, as well as international outlets BBC, ESPN and Animal Planet.
The fact that so many people are willing to buy IPTV subscriptions has made it profitable for pirates to invest in Google and Facebook ads. Because some illegal IPTV services look legitimate on the surface, it’s hard to prevent TV pirates from taking advantage of paid ad networks.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of low-priced black market TV. According to USA Today, traditional cable subscribers are still paying around $85/month for service. At the same time, wages in the US, Europe and Canada remain stagnant. On the surface, the promise of getting more entertainment for less money seems like a good way to save. If and when a complete crackdown comes, it will affect thousands of households in ethnic communities in particular all across Canada. -CINEWS