Based on complaint by Rogers Media inc. Group TVA Inc (Plaintiffs) and site-blocking precedents set in earlier cases involving Bell Media, Rogers Media, and others by Canadian courts in 2022 and earlier, Canada’s Federal Court approved blocking of live game streaming by the Toronto Blue Jays Major League Baseball team by infringing streaming providers.
A group of identified and unidentified defendants were ordered to cease unauthorized distribution or “inducing..anyone to infringe” on Plaintiffs rights to MLB Live Games in Canada. The restriction applies only to “full live game footage and/or full live telecast of certain live games of the Toronto Blue Jays, Canada’s only Major League Baseball [MLB] team, and certain live MLB Jewel Events, produced and/or broadcast by the Plaintiffs in Canada under license from MLB and/or the Toronto Blue Jays,” plus post-seaon MLB games further outlined in the decision.
The blocking must be implemented by Canadian Internet Service Providers identified as Third Party Respondents who must begin blocking access to target servers which have been verified by an appointed agent of the Plaintiffs within seven days of the decision (beginning of August).
Nature of blockage
Access would be blocked for the duration of the game window and unblocked as soon as possible afterward, using “the technical means set out in (this Order) within thirty (30) minutes of the start of an MLB Live Game Window and at least every thirty (30) minutes thereafter until the end of the MLB Live Game Window, or according to such other schedule as may be agreed. Although methods are not disclosed, the 30 minute interval could refer to key rotation.
ISPs are not in breach of the order if they must interrupt blockage to investigate and correct technical issues or do systems maintenance.
Reimbursement of costs
The decision also includes a confidential list of detection and notification criteria which has been withheld from the public. The decision specifies that the ISPs are to keep track of their efforts and costs. ISPs may recover up to $50,000 in costs plus certain types of losses identified in the decision
This order will terminate at the end of the 2023 Major League Baseball season.
Rogers Media and John Doe 1, John Doe 2, Other Unidentified Persons Who Operate Unauthorized Streaming Servers That Provide or Will Provide Access to MLB Live Games in Canada and Third Party Respondents. Docket: T-1253-23. Court order. July 18, 2023. Federal Court of Canada
Why it matters
There’s an odd twist in the decision, as it did not specify blockage of games that don’t involve the Toronto Blue Jays, other than the MLB All Star Game and MLB post-season games.
The Toronto Blue Jays are the only MLB team in Canada, and the rights holder is trying to limit streaming of its games to authorized outlets. MLB strictly enforces local blackouts in its own apps.