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Federal Court orders Canada's ISPs to block piracy website for first time

Lights on an internet switch illuminate a network cable in an office in Ottawa, Thursday, February 10, 2011. A Federal Court is ordering Canada's internet service providers to block websites for a company that's offering pirated television streaming online. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

TORONTO — A Federal Court is ordering Canada’s internet service providers to block websites for a company that’s offering pirated television streaming online.

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 Canadian Press