Ontario Court Orders VMedia to Pay $150,000 in Battle with Bell Over TV Streaming Service



Toronto-based startup VMedia lost a court battle with Bell Canada over its TV streaming service that broadcast conventional channels over the Internet.

On Tuesday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that VMedia’s new service violated Bell’s rights under the Copyright Act by streaming CTV and CTV 2 without permission. For doing this, the judge ordered VMedia to pay Bell $150,000 in damages.

The legal battle began only days after VMedia launched their streaming service in September. The service allowed users to access a skinny TV package via a Netflix-like app on Roku.

VMedia argued the channels were fair game because they are available for free over-the-air. Bell countered by saying that it only gave VMedia permission to broadcast the channels in a closed system, not using any Internet connection.

In this case, the judge sided with Bell, noting that the case hinged on the simple issue of whether VMedia’s service was a new media retransmitter. The judge found that it was indeed a retransmitter, so they are not permitted to broadcast over-the-air channels without consent.

In a statement, Justice Frederick Myers noted the court does not set broadcasting policy, but they only interpret existing law:

“If technology has overcome the existing laws and policies, it is open to interested parties to put the issues before the CRTC to try to revise the policies and the definitions. This decision says what the law is. It is for others to determine what the applicable law ought to be.”

What do you think of the court’s decision on this matter? Let us know in the comments below.

[via The Globe and Mail]


  • JB

    That’s a decision that’s not good for consumers. The law needs to be rewritten/reinterpreted to stop these incumbents from monopolizing the marketplace. It would be great if it went to the Supreme Court of Canada.

  • mcfilmmakers

    Judge already said where this case should go. Supreme Court can’t come to a different conclusion that what they law allows for.

  • mxmgodin

    What “damages” does Bell ensues from streaming channels that are already available for free over-the-air…
    Our laws seriously need to be updated for the reality we live in now. Whether Robellus want it or not, TV streaming services will be an important part of our media landscape in the years to come. But I guess they’re too busy hanging on real tight to their sweet cable money to actually care about innovation and new ventures.

  • JB

    They can absolutely interpret the law differently. It’s a difficult case, and in my (limited knowledge) opinion, there is certainly precedence to support the free rebroadcasting of licensed signal. (see cable retransmission by, ironically, the incumbents)