In 2021, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal upheld the first pirate site-blocking order in the country.
The landmark decision opened the door to additional and more advanced blocking requests. Indeed, it didn’t take long before NHL broadcasters asked the court for a pirate IPTV blocking order of their own.
The Federal Court eventually granted this request for the ongoing season, with some safeguards. In part due to intervention from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), an independent expert was appointed to measure the effectiveness and proportionality of the blocking efforts.
This NHL blocking action was followed by a FIFA World Cup blocking order last fall, which was also granted without further hassle. Following up on these successes, rightsholders set their sights on the MLB.
2023 MBL ‘Blue Jays’ Piracy Blockade
Last week, Canada’s Federal Court authorized another sports streaming blockade. Following a complaint from Rogers and TVA, Canadian Internet providers are now required to block IP addresses used to broadcast Toronto Blue Jays games.
The blocking order is different from previous requests, as it mostly covers the games of Canada’s only MLB team. In addition, MLB Jewel Events including All-Star games and the World Series are covered as well. These limitations are determined by Rogers and TVA’s broadcast rights.
“Third Party Respondents shall, during each of the MLB Live Game Windows […] block or attempt to block access, by at least their residential wireline Internet service customers, to each of the IP addresses for the Target Servers,” Judge Lafrenière writes.
The game windows and server IP addresses are not disclosed, but they likely cover several of the most popular IPTV streaming services in Canada. These IP addresses can also be updated during the season, if streaming services try to circumvent the blockades.
The blocking efforts will remain in place for the remainder of the 2023 MLB season, which ends in October. If rightsholders would like to extend blocking to future seasons they will have to go back to court first.
Costs and Complaints
The Internet providers are not accused of any infringing activity and they will be compensated for any costs incurred when implementing these blocking measures. This compensation should be paid by the rightsholders, up to a maximum of CA$50,000.
As in previous cases, the Court has also appointed an independent expert to review the IP addresses submitted for blocking, to ensure that detection and notification requirements are followed.
TekSavvy is one of the Internet providers targeted through the order. While the company protested previous blockades, further protest appears pointless so the company will comply with the blocking requirements.
That said, TekSavvy does point out that other parties who are affected by the measures can challenge them in court.
“Anyone who claims to be affected by the order may also apply to the Court to discharge or vary the order. This includes any operators of servers who are affected by this order, any Internet service customer affected by the Order or any other third party who claims to be affected by this order,” the ISP notes.
This is the fourth blocking order issued in Canada. At the time of writing, only the original “GoldTV” blockade and the new MLB blockade remain active. The NHL order expired and must be renewed for the upcoming season if rightsholders want to keep it in place.
Interestingly, traditional pirate streaming and torrent sites are not yet blocked in Canada. A complaint against Soap2Day could have been the setup for the first attempt of this kind, but the streaming site decide to shut down after being served.
A copy of the MLB blocking order, issued by Justice Roger R. Lafrenière last week, is available here (pdf)