On October 2, 2018, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in decision CRTC 2018-384 denied an application by Bell Canada, Rogers Communications Canada Inc, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Limited and a number of other persons (collectively, FairPlay) proposing a new website blocking regime.

FairPlay filed its application with the CRTC requesting that the CRTC implement certain measures under the Telecommunicaitons Act to:

  1. identify websites and online services engaged in copyright piracy; and
  2. require Internet service providers to block end-user access to these websites.

FairPlay argued that Internet piracy is a widespread and growing problem in Canada and that the current legal regime is ill-equipped to deal with the issue. According to FairPlay, the CRTC is in the best position to address Internet piracy through its powers under the Telecommunications Act and has the statutory jurisdiction to do so.

The CRTC disagreed, finding that Fairplay’s proposed regime relates primarily to the enforcement of the Copyright Act and that it does not have jurisdiction to implement the proposed measures. Parliament created the Copyright Act as an exhaustive copyright regime and, as such, clear statutory language is required in the Telecommuications Act in order for it to empower the CRTC to address rights and remedies related to copyright. Since the Telecommunications Act does not have any such language, the CRTC found that it does not have jurisdiction to implement the proposed regime. Accordingly, FairPlay’s application was denied.

Summary By: Jae Morris

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