The BCCLA is intervening in Teksavvy v. Bell Media et al., a case which raises important and novel civil liberties issues related to freedom of expression in the context of internet regulation.
The Plaintiffs, Bell Media, Rogers Inc. and Groupe TV Inc., claimed at the Federal Court that the Defendant, GoldTV, was operating an unauthorized subscription service which gave subscribers access to the Plaintiffs’ copyrighted content. The Plaintiffs sought an interlocutory injunction against internet service providers compelling them to block their customers from accessing certain websites (a “site-blocking order”). The Federal Court found that it had jurisdiction to order an injunction and granted the site-blocking order, the first of its kind to be issued in Canada. One of the internet service providers, Teksavvy, appealed this ruling, citing its concern that site-blocking will do more harm than good, and that the existing order violates net neutrality by yielding to the interests of a handful of powerful media conglomerates.
The BCCLA was granted leave to intervene in this case at the Federal Court of Appeal. This case engages two important and potentially conflicting interests: the protection of freedom of expression and the need for meaningful relief from expression-related harms such as copyright infringement. The BCCLA has a long-standing interest in free expression rights and has significant expertise dealing with situations where free expression rights are in tension with other important societal interests and values.
In its submissions, the BCCLA emphasizes that site-blocking orders are an extraordinary, expression-limiting remedy and that the granting of a site-blocking order must take into account the impact on the Charter’s protection of free expression. The impact on free expression rights will depend on: the scope of the order sought; the potential for censuring legitimate, non-offending content; the potential for the significant or disproportionate chilling of the defendant’s dissemination of lawful and legitimate material; and the degree of connection between the expression at issue and the core values underlying the right to free expression.
The BCCLA is represented in this case by Gib Van Ert of Gib Van Ert Law.
The BCCLA’s motion record seeking leave to intervene can be found here.