Canadian government officials have ruled that it is illegal to distribute broadcast television programming over the Internet in Canada without permission of the copyright holder.
The decision, long-awaited by Internet distributors seeking to freely stream TV programming online, was based on what Canadian regulators said was the inability of current technology to restrict the areas reached by the Internet.
“At present, there is no completely workable method of ensuring that Internet retransmissions are geographically contained,” the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission wrote in its decision. "The likelihood that a program retransmitted over the Internet would become available worldwide could significantly reduce the opportunities for copyright owners."
In 1999 a start-up company, IcraveTV.com, was the first of a group of Internet television entrepreneurs to offer American and Canadian television programming streamed on the Internet. The company had no permission from the copyright holders. However, it noted that under Canadian law that only Canadian citizens were authorized to view the programming. Since the Internet is a global medium, in reality viewers anywhere in the world could watch the shows.
IcraveTV was sued by a coalition of television programmers, professional sports leagues, and broadcasters. A Canadian court ordered the company to halt the service, and IcraveTV went out of business a short time later. Another company, JumpTV sought permission but faced similar restrictions. It asked Canadian regulators to rule on whether the service was legal.
For more information visit the Canadian government's Web site at www.gc.ca.