Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


commercial-scale copyright infringement, online content streaming, online copyright disputes, site-blocking, third-party ISP


In recent years, the proliferation of commercial-scale copyright infringement through unauthorized online content streaming has created persisting legal hurdles for Canadian rights holders seeking redress. John Doe defendants in online copyright disputes can easily preserve their anonymity and operate their infringing enterprises from unknown locations, undeterred by injunctions issued against them directly. These anonymized administrators of illicit streaming platforms offer users unauthorized access to content for a lower cost than or as a free alternative to the access provided by the legitimate rights holder. This form of copyright infringement has reportedly resulted in up to hundreds of thousands of lost subscribers and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues annually for Canadian rights holders. More fundamentally, online copyright infringement undermines the balance of interests that the Copyright Act seeks to achieve between empowering Internet consumers and rewarding content creators.

In response, the Canadian judiciary has recently embraced website-blocking injunctions as a novel remedy to combat online streaming-based copyright infringement. Instead of pursuing an anonymous defendant directly, an injunction granted against a third-party Internet service provider (‘‘ISP”) intermediary disables users on the ISP’s network from access to the unknown defendant’s offending website. In Teksavvy Solutions Inc. v. Bell Media Inc. (‘‘GoldTV FCA”), the Federal Court of Appeal allowed the first site-blocking order of this type in Canada. The order required third-party respondent ISPs enjoined by the injunction to use tools at their disposal to prevent the online copyright infringement facilitated by their retail broadband services, despite the ISPs not being directly liable for the infringement.