3 Count: Canadian Blocking

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1: Canada is Considering a Proposal that Would Allow Internet Providers to Block Piracy Websites

First off today, Anja Karadeglija at the National Post reports that the Canadian government has launched a consultation document that kicks off potential legislation to introduce a site blocking regime in the country.

In other parts of the world, including the UK, rightsholders are able to petition courts or other bodies to get pirate sites blocked by local ISPs. There was such an attempt in January 2012 in the United States, but massive online protests brought an end to the legislation.

The document published by the government in Canada suggests a court process that would result in orders to block websites. The document also suggested a new compulsory license system where intermediaries like social media companies would pay royalties to rightsholders. However, both proposals have already drawn controversy from activists that say such regimes either would endanger free speech or function as a new tax.

2: IP Suit Against Qatar Airways Takes Flight in UK Court

Next up today, Muireann Bolger at World Intellectual Property Review reports that a UK court has ruled that Qatar Airways must disclose documents related to its inflight entertainment system as part of a lawsuit against Performing Rights Society (PRS).

PRS filed a lawsuit claiming that, through both their apps and inflight interface, Qatar was offering unlicensed access to thousands of musical works. As such, they are seeking both damages and injunctive relief.

Qatar Airlines initially tried to get the case dismissed on jurisdictional grounds but the court ruled in July 2020 that UK law could be applied. The airline then tried to argue that elements of the requested disclosure were not appropriate. However, that too has proven to be a loss for Qatar Airlines as the court has ruled that PRS’ requests were reasonable and ordered the airline to turn over the requested documentation.

3: Court Orders Paypal to Freeze VPN Company’s Funds in Piracy Case

Finally today, Ernesto Van der Sar at Torrentfreak writes that a federal court in Virginia has handed down a temporary restraining order that requires PayPal to freeze the assets of VPN.ht and a separate order that locks the domain of a Popcorn Time fork.

Representing several filmmakers, attorney Kerry Culpepper targeted the two organizations for their alleged roles in contributing to piracy of his clients’ films. Neither of the defendants have responded to the lawsuit, but the plaintiffs moved quickly for a temporary restraining order that would freeze the assets of VPN.ht and would lock the domain of Popcorntime.app to prevent it from being transferred outside the court’s jurisdiction.

As of right now, VPN.ht is online but Popcorntime.app is down, with the domain redirecting to a goodbye message on Medium. However, that message is down too as Medium has removed it for violating the site’s rules.

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