Canadian cable companies have ratcheted up their war on piracy by launching a new legal battle. The effort has already seen Bell, Rogers and Quebecor’s Videotron search a Montreal software developer’s home and interrogate him for more than nine hours.
“The whole experience was horrifying,” says Adam Lackman, founder of TVAddons and defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit launched by the television giants. “It felt like the kind of thing you would have expected to have happened in the Soviet Union.”
Telecoms and content creators Bell, Rogers and Videotron began their piracy battle last year by filing a lawsuit against Canadian dealers who sell “free TV” Android boxes — devices that can be used to stream pirated content.
Now the companies are also targeting Lackman and TVAddons — a library of hundreds of apps known as add-ons. Once downloaded on the Android box or a computer with added software, some of the add-ons — such as Exodus and 1Channel — allow people easy access to pirated movies, TV shows and even live television.
In their statement of claim filed in Federal Court on June 2, the plaintiffs allege that by developing and making TVAddons available to the public, Lackman contravened the Copyright Act.
The suit includes a long list of programming allegedly made freely available via TVAddons including Bell’s Game of Thrones and Rogers’ Sportsnet.
In his defence, Lackman argues TVAddons doesn’t host pirated content but instead connects users to sources already available online, so it serves as nothing more than a search engine.
On June 9, the telecoms got an Anton Piller order, a civil search warrant that gives a plaintiff access to a defendant’s home, without notice, to search for and seize relevant evidence before it can be destroyed.
A Federal Court judge would later declare the Anton Piller order in this case “unlawful,” but that was weeks after a group of men arrived at Lackman’s door at 8 a.m. on June 12.
Lackman says the group included a bailiff, two computer technicians, an independent counsel and a lawyer representing Bell, Rogers and Videotron.
According to court documents, the group stayed for 16 hours and the plaintiffs’ lawyer and independent counsel interrogated Lackman for more than nine hours. He was…