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Bad News: We Lost the Appeal, Canada Does Not Protect Online Platforms Indexing User Generated Content

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We have just received notice that the appeals court ruled in favour of Bell, Videotron, Rogers and TVA. This means that we will not have our original domain name or social media accounts returned in the foreseeable future. This is a major blow to internet rights in Canada, as it confirms the fact that under Canadian law there are no safe harbours protecting community based platforms from abuse by web site visitors.

As of the current time, the court has not had the chance to actually test any of the claims that were brought forward by Canada’s telecom cartel. The court took their claims as at face value, and decided that it was appropriate to preemptively seize all of our property pending the outcome of what could end up being a very lengthy and costly legal battle, which we might not even be able to afford to fight.

We don’t even have the ability to communicate with our former userbase, since all of our social media accounts, which contained nothing infringing whatsoever, were seized as well and will not be returned anytime soon. That is nothing less than censorship!

This decision severely threatens innovation in Canada. Disruptive technologies have always been a thorn in the side of the status-quo, who will generally stop at nothing to destroy their competition. Since the actual evidence has not been tested by the courts, they have essentially said that a claim alone is enough to shut an entire business down.

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At the current time, we have almost a thousand legitimate unofficial Kodi addons indexed within our addon library, none of which can even be considered to be infringing. These addons are developed by independent developers around the world, and submitting to our site for indexing. We do not have any part in their development, and have never hosted nor direct linked to any form of infringing content.

There is still the possibility that our property will be returned eventually, but without the ability to communicate with the majority of our userbase, fundraising for legal costs has been quite difficult. In civil court, it is not uncommon for the party with more resources to prevail, since civil court does not offer the same legal protections as are afforded under the criminal justice system.

The most disturbing part of this whole ordeal is that it has now been proven that unlike American web sites, Canadian platforms are responsible for the actions of their users. In the United States, if a site like Facebook, YouTube or Reddit were to contain something infringing that was posted by one of their users, they would be protected by the DMCA which offers a notice-and-takedown system.

It is unfair to hold community based platforms responsible for the actions of their users. It means that web site owners have no choice but to enforce the copyrights of third parties. How are you even supposed to know whether a site that is being scraped by a Kodi addon is legitimately licensed or not? There is no central database of sites authorized to stream specific protected content. Where does that leave newer, potentially disruptive technologies?

Canada should aspire to be a country that fosters innovation. Not one that allows big corporations to take the little guy out of business, solely based on their own claims. Parties in civil court are notorious for making outrageous claims against their opponents, it doesn’t mean that they are true. They should not have been allowed to shut us down, or seize our domains without those claims having been tested to be undeniably true beforehand, not just regarded at face value.

Would YouTube or Spotify be where they are today had the status-quo been able to shut them down for years by simply making a copyright claim? No! That is why community platforms are protected by the DMCA in the United States. It requires that rightsholders notify the platform before taking legal action. Canada should think about getting with the times.

We will still continue to operate on our new tvaddons.co domain which is an entirely new entity. Since these court proceedings have began, we have instituted a much stricter addon submission policy, one that we believe threatens innovation, in order to limit our potental liability in the future. If you are interested in helping support our cause, possibly all the way to the Supreme Court, please consider making a donation via credit card or cryptocurrency for any amount you can afford.

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