Federal Court of Appeal Upholds Site-Blocking Order
by Ashley Chu
The Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) has upheld an unprecedented site-blocking order issued by the Federal Court.
In 2019, the Federal Court issued an order requiring a number of Canadian Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to certain websites that were alleged to infringe the plaintiffs’ copyright. In addition to being the first of its kind in Canada, this order was notable because the ISPs were not defendants in the underlying copyright action. Teksavvy Solutions Inc. (Teksavvy), one of the ISPs, appealed the order.
In dismissing the appeal, the FCA held that the Federal Court did indeed have the power to grant the site-blocking order, finding that it is one of the possible remedies contemplated in the Canadian Copyright Act. The FCA disagreed with Teksavvy’s contention that the Telecommunications Act displaces the Federal Court’s equitable powers of injunction, which includes the ability to impose a site-blocking order.
The FCA also declined to consider whether freedom of expression, as set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was engaged by the order. It noted that it was not necessary for the judge to engage in a detailed Charter rights analysis separate and distinct from the balance of convenience analysis that is already considered when determining whether an interlocutory injunction should be issued. With respect to the judge’s analysis of the legal test for interlocutory injunctions, the FCA found no error in his analysis.
Therefore, Teksavvy’s appeal was dismissed.
This decision is significant for copyright owners, who will now have available to them site-blocking orders as a remedy for copyright infringement.
The Federal Court of Appeal’s decision is published as Teksavvy Solutions Inc. v Bell Media Inc. et al., 2021 FCA 100 and can be accessed at this link: Teksavvy Solutions Inc. v. Bell Media Inc. et al.
For more information about copyright protection in Canada, please contact the professionals at Moffat & Co.