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Bell, Rogers, Videotron Interrogate Montrealer for 9 Hours in Piracy War

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Bell, Rogers, Videotron and TV have surged ahead in their war against piracy, by searching the home of a Montreal software developer and interrogating him for 9 hours, reports CBC News.

Adam lackman

Adam Lackman is the founder of TVAddons, which provides “add-ons” for Android TV boxes running open source Kodi software to watch movies, TV shows and live TV, which some is pirated content. Lackman, as the defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit launched by cable TV giants, says his service is nothing more than a search engine for existing sources on the web.

“The whole experience was horrifying,” Lackman, tells CBC News. “It felt like the kind of thing you would have expected to have happened in the Soviet Union.”

Bell, Rogers and Videotron obtained an Anton Piller order on June 9, “a civil search warrant that gives a plaintiff access to a defendant’s home, without notice, to search for and seize relevant evidence before it can be destroyed,” explains CBC News.

A group of men showed up at his house at 8AM on June 12, which included a bailiff, a couple computer technicians, independent counsel and a lawyer on behalf of Rogers, Bell and Videotron.

For 16 hours, the men remained at Lackman’s home, where they seized his smartphone, computer, plus he was forced by independent counsel to divulge passwords for his email and social media accounts.

Lackman was interrogated for over 9 hours and “not permitted to refuse to answer questions”, plus his lawyer on location was not allowed to counsel him in his responses. “Any time I would question the process, they would threaten me with contempt of court proceedings,” explained the Montreal resident. Despite this, he was allowed a break for dinner.

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He told Torrent Freak “I had to sit there and not leave their sight. I was denied access to medication,” adding, “I had a doctor’s appointment I was forced to miss. I wasn’t even allowed to call and cancel.”

Torrent Freak says “It’s fair to say that thus far, this process has revealed some of the most shocking abuses of power ever seen in an online copyright infringement case.”

A Federal Court judge later ruled on June 29 the Anton Piller was “null and void”, ordering all seized items to be returned to Lackman. The judge also said the search was only supposed to take place between 8AM and 8PM, instead of going all the way to midnight, while also stating the defendant was not offered “any of the protections normally afforded to litigants in such circumstances,” on top of being treated unfairly during the interrogation process.

The judge ruled the legal team of Rogers, Bell and Videotron tried to use the Anton Piller order to shut down TVAddons plus hunt for new evidence, when the order itself was to be used to preserve evidence.

“I am of the view that its true purpose was to destroy the livelihood of the defendant, deny him the financial resources to finance a defence to the claim made against him,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

Lackman, on his new TVAddons site, said it was “a massive win against the draconian, anti-competitive conduct of Canada’s telecom cartels.”

Lackman still has not received his seized belongings, locked out of the TVAddons website and social media accounts, because Bell, Rogers and Videotron appealed the decision, and an Appeal judge says their appeal can be heard. Until then, Lackman’s belongings remain in limbo.

He told Torrent Freak his legal costs have already mounted to over $100,000—and he cannot fight cable companies alone, since they have control of his original domains, cutting off his income:

“It all comes down to whether we will have the financial resources necessary to mount our defense and go to trial. We won’t have ad revenue coming in, since losing our domain names means that we’ll lose the majority of our traffic for quite some time into the future,”

“We’re hoping that others will be as concerned as us about big companies manipulating the law in order to shut down what they see as competition. We desperately need help in financially supporting our legal defense, we cannot do it alone.

“We’ve run up a legal bill of over $100,000 to date. We’re David, and they are four Goliaths with practically unlimited resources. If we lose, it will mean that new case law is made, case law that could mean increased censorship of the internet.”

TVAddons is also being sued by Dish Network in the USA, so the legal battles are hitting Lackman on both sides of the border.

Lackman has started an Indiegogo page to fund his legal costs, and so far has $5,327 USD raised  in one day, out of his $250,000 USD goal.

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  • FragilityG4

    How is it allowed that private companies with private interests are allowed to preform search and seizures? In certain situations they should be allowed to seek warrants to speed up the process but this process HAS to be conducted by the police. The police have more responsibility to freedoms, rights and law than a private company that thinks this kind of situation serves as a warning to others.

  • Bleep Bloop

    I couldn’t agree more. My jaw dropped as I was reading this. I hope he finds grounds to sue these companies.

  • It’s Me

    I was thinking the exact thing. In fact, even further, even the police might not have had the right to subject him to the abuses that Rogers and Bell did.

    For 16 hours, the men remained at Lackman’s home, where they seized his smartphone, computer, plus he was forced by independent counsel to divulge passwords for his email and social media accounts.

    Lackman was interrogated for over 9 hours and “not permitted to refuse to answer questions”, plus his lawyer on location was not allowed to counsel him in his responses. “Any time I would question the process, they would threaten me with contempt of court proceedings,” explained the Montreal resident. Despite this, he was allowed a break for dinner.

    -Deny him the right not to answer? We don’t have the 5th amendment here, but can a private entity compel answers outside of a court?
    -Forced to divulge his passwords? Even police need a warrant or court order that specifically allows this.
    -Denied access to a lawyer?

    That is some totalitarian BS.

  • dave

    The cable companies do not offer fair and competitive prices on their content but at least by paying them instead of stealing it, I can help insure that original content can still be produced. obviously one or two people pirating a few shows isn’t going to destroy hollywood overnight but eventually ripping off hollywood will catch up with us. argumentum ad absurdum
    that being said. The way this guy was treated is insane!! I get that you have to implement an Anton Piller order if you expect to catch the guy in the act (which did anyone here know that was a thing?) but that’s still totally unbelievable that a private company could do this to someone over a white collar crime in Canada!!

  • Dansk

    I think its absolutely disgusting that this was allowed to happen! The appeal rule in favour of Adam! Also they should have to publicly apologize, pay his legal fees. Any “evidence” they STOLE should not be admissible in any court proceedings against him.

    Also they are doing this because its “costing” Hollywood too much money is bulls**t, how about Hollywood stops paying actors 5,10,15,20+ million dollars for a role! Majority of stuff being pirated are movies that are breaking box office records! Its time for these companies to move into the modern technology age. The music industry is a great example it used to be target number one for pirating they were going after everyone they could. Then companies like Apple started to use technology to bring change, when iTunes/iPod came out people slow made the shift to buying music online at a much better price. Now we have streaming services with a single monthly fee, record companies are beginning to see huge growth in profits again. The movie and tv industry needs to realize this is the direction they are going and need to star embracing it! Look at Netflix perfect example for Hollywood!

  • Joe

    Yeah I’m sorry but if Hollywood’s revenues are dropping, they should take a pay cut. Pay went up like crazy during the 90’s when the box office was booming. If it stops booming, too bad.

  • BigCat

    Unfortunately, this surprise attack probably caught him completely off guard. He should have refused to comply and went for the contempt of court, which would have been thrown out.

    It’s really surprising that they could get a Anton Piller order against him in Quebec. He’s in the best province for this fight, but money is going to be his main problem.

  • FragilityG4

    The only argument I have against your points is that Netflix seems to do pretty well charging ten bucks a month and I get way more content than basic cable which charges fifteen (skinny) fifty for the regular.

  • dave

    That’s a solid point and honestly I would LOVE to see how they pull it off… It’s so intriguing to me that at $10 a month they can afford all their contracts and a LOT of original content with decent names attached to them. Is their subscriber base really that huge? are there other revenue streams that I’m not aware of? It really intrigues me for some reason.

  • FragilityG4

    One big thing is they don’t have any cable lines, fiber lines, satellites etc to expand and maintain. I might have just rebutted my original point Hahaha

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