Back in 2016, Bell, Rogers and other media companies in Canada launched a copyright infringement lawsuit against set-top box retailers selling Android boxes that streamed unauthorized live TV and other content.
In a ruling earlier this week in Federal Court on August 10, 2021, in Toronto, Ontario (via video conference), Honourable Justice Janet Fuhrer declared $29,300,000 CAD in damages for the following companies:
- Bell Canada
- Bell Expressvu Limited Partnership
- Bell Media Inc.
- Videotron Ltd.
- Group TVA Inc.
- Rogers Communications Canada Inc.
- Rogers Media Inc.
The money will be paid out by L3d Distributing Inc. dba Inl3d, Morcor Computers 2000 Ltd., Ottawa Tek Corporation and Raheel Rafiq.
“The Respondent Defendants have advertised and sold pre-loaded set top boxes and IPTV services in Canada online and at brick-and-mortar locations, thus providing unauthorized access to the Plaintiffs’ content,” ruled Judge Fuhrer.
“Based on the above, I therefore award the Plaintiffs statutory damages in the total amount of $29,300,000 (in Canadian dollars),” reads the ruling:
“I find that the Respondent Defendants have infringed subsisting copyright in the Plaintiffs’ Programs or Plaintiffs’ Works and failed to respond when served with (an amended) Statement of Claim and the Interlocutory Injunction Order. The Respondent Defendants thus are in default. I further find that the Plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing their claims,” concluded Judge Fuhrer.
On Thursday, Bell said it welcomed the ruling by the Federal Court of Canada. “Bell invests hundreds of millions of dollars every year to develop, produce, acquire and deliver great Canadian and international content over multiple platforms, but content piracy continues to undermine the entire media industry, including the work of many Canadians,” said Wade Oosterman, President Bell Media and Vice Chair, BCE and Bell, in a statement.
“By imposing stiff financial penalties on companies that enable and promote unauthorized access to content online and via set-top box add-ons, the Federal Court has sent a clear message,” added Oosterman, citing how TV piracy in Canada has a negative financial impact of $500 to $650 million per year.