In early 2018, Bell led a consortium of companies and organizations arguing for the creation of a new website blocking system in Canada. Complete with a new anti-piracy agency and CRTC stamp of approval, the vision was to create a new system to mandate site blocking across ISPs in Canada. Canadians challenged the so-called FairPlay proposal and the CRTC rejected the Bell application on jurisdictional grounds. Since that time, the Canadian courts have been dealing with site blocking requests (the Federal Court of Appeal is soon set to hear arguments on the issue) and the Canadian copyright review conducted by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology decided against recommending the creation of a new administrative system for site blocking.
Post Tagged with: "fairplay"
Site blocking has been on the policy and regulatory radar screen for several years in Canada, starting with the Bell-led Fairplay proposal to the CRTC and demands for site blocking as part of the copyright review. With both the CRTC and elected officials rejecting site blocking proposals, rights holders have turned to the courts. Last month, a Federal Court of Canada judge issued a major website blocking decision granting a request from Bell, Rogers, and Groupe TVA to block access to a series of GoldTV streaming websites.
The case is an important one, representing the first extensive website blocking order in Canada. I’ve argued that it is also deeply flawed from both a policy and legal perspective, substituting the views of one judge over Parliament’s judgment and relying on a foreign copyright case that was rendered under markedly different legal rules than those found in Canada. Allen Mendelsohn, a Montreal based Internet lawyer and sessional lecturer at McGill University joins the podcast this week to help sort through the issues.
A Federal Court of Canada judge issued a major website blocking decision late Friday, granting a request from Bell, Rogers, and Groupe TVA to block access to a series of GoldTV streaming websites. The order covers most of the Canada’s large ISPs: Bell, Eastlink, Cogeco, Distributel, Fido, Rogers, Sasktel, TekSavvy, Telus, and Videotron. The case is an important one, representing the first extensive website blocking order in Canada. It is also deeply flawed from both a policy and legal perspective, substituting the views of one judge over Parliament’s judgment and relying on a foreign copyright case that was rendered under markedly different legal rules than those found in Canada.
The CRTC released four cost awards yesterday arising from the Bell coalition’s proposal for a site blocking system. The Commission rejected the proposal last year on jurisdictional grounds and has now followed up with significant cost awards to public interest groups that participated in the process. The FairPlay coalition challenged the cost awards to OpenMedia and CIPPIC, arguing that its citizen engagement was “deliberately misleading and cannot represent responsible participation in the proceeding.” It also argued that the Public Interest Advocacy Centre’s participation was “irresponsible in nature” since it included arguments questioning the harm of piracy, which FairPlay maintained encouraged the Commission “to disregard the basic tenets of the Copyright Act.”
The CRTC soundly rejected these arguments, ordering the FairPlay coalition to pay over $130,000 in costs as part of four applications (OpenMedia/CIPPIC, PIAC, FRPC, UDC). The Commission’s analysis on the value of the OpenMedia/CIPPIC public campaign is particularly noteworthy given efforts by some commentators to question it:
Last year, Bell and its supporters denied that its “Fairplay” site blocking plan would apply to virtual private networks (VPNs). Yet as first reported by the Wire Report (sub required), Bell asked the Canadian government to target some VPNs in its submission on the NAFTA re-negotiations. Throughout the site blocking debate, many cited concerns that the Bell coalition plan would expand beyond certain websites to VPNs. For example, I posted:
Once the list of piracy sites (whatever the standard) is addressed, it is very likely that the Bell coalition will turn its attention to other sites and services such as virtual private networks (VPNs). This is not mere speculation. Rather, it is taking Bell and its allies at their word on how they believe certain services and sites constitute theft. The use of VPNs, which enhance privacy but also allow users to access out-of-market content, has been sore spot for the companies for many years.