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Online piracy of sports broadcasts continues

Canada has long been a breeding ground for copyright infringement related to the piracy of telecasts of live sporting events, Toronto lawyer Kevin Fisher writes in Lawyers WeeklyRead Lawyers Weekly.

try continues to be listed on the USTR Priority Watch List, writes Fisher, noting an early example of Canadian online piracy by live streaming is ICraveTV.com, which operated in Canada from 1999 to 2000.

"The site sought to exploit differences in Canadian and U.S. law. Two infringement actions were brought in the U.S., one by a coalition of networks and the second by the NBA and NFL; a third action was commenced in Canada," the article states. "The U.S. Federal District Court granted an injunction and ICraveTV agreed to discontinue its streaming operations."

ICraveTV was not seen as a harbinger of things to come as streaming technology was in its infancy, writes Fisher, litigation partner with Basman Smith LLP.

"The bigger problem was the proliferation of 'grey market' satellite systems. These were being sold in Canada intended for U.S. direct-to-home (DTH) consumers, which were often altered to permit full access to all available channels," he writes. "The illegality related to the use and distribution of these 'grey market' systems was definitively decided in Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership v. Rex [2002] S.C.J. No. 43."

Satellite signal piracy remains a problem and is now often combined with online piracy using “card sharing” sites, such as IKS Japan, despite attempts by U.S. DTH satellite pro- viders to shut them down, the article says, adding these sites offer free or subscription access and are particularly popular for pirating live sports telecasts by commercial venues.

"Direct online piracy has now far surpassed all other forms of piracy," writes Fisher.

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