'Free TV' Android box dealers lose court appeal to lift sales ban
Court injunction blocking fully loaded Android box sales will stand during legal case
Cable giants won another victory today in the legal battle over fully loaded Android TV boxes. The Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal quickly dismissed an appeal of an injunction banning defendants from selling the controversial devices.
Cable companies and content producers Bell, Rogers and Quebec's Vidéotron won the temporary injunction in June after launching a legal case to stamp out the Android box business.
Because the appeal has been dismissed, the defendants — about 55 Android box retailers — will continue to be blocked from selling their devices during the duration of the case.
- 'Free TV' Android box dealers in court Monday to fight injunction blocking sales
- Cable companies launch court battle against 'free TV' Android box vendors
Once loaded with special software, the Android boxes allow users to easily stream pirated TV and movies on their televisions — all for a one-time fee, typically around $100. The devices have become a scourge of the cable TV industry, especially because they're often marketed with slogans such as "free TV" and "never pay a cable bill ever again!"
Two defendants, WatchNSaveNow in Mississauga, Ont., and MTLFreeTV in Montreal, had appealed the injunction banning box sales. They argued in court documents that it was never established that if the defendants continued to sell their devices it would hurt the cable companies' business.
The Appeal Court ruled that it was satisfied that the Federal Court had made the right decision in imposing the injunction. It stated in court documents that the "uncontradicted evidence" included "the advertisement that these pre-loaded ... boxes are a way to access free TV content and avoid cable bills."
"I'm actually very disappointed," said defendant Vincent Wesley about the decision. "We weren't even given a fair shot."
Both Bell and Rogers applauded the decision and said it bolsters their legal argument that the fully loaded boxes are a clear-cut case of copyright infringement.
"Today's swift dismissal of the appeal of the Federal Court's injunction speaks to what this case is all about — an obvious case of piracy," said Rogers spokesperson Sarah Schmidt in an email to CBC News.
"Today's ruling is an important step in ensuring illegal sharing of our content doesn't get a free pass and the folks who create and produce it get paid for their work."
Bell echoed those words.
"The courts continue to affirm our position that these boxes are illegal and those who continue to sell them will face significant consequences," said Bell spokesperson Marc Choma.
The case already has resulted in consequences for Wesley. The defendants got hit with a $5,000 fine for court costs.
"I fought them and I actually stuck my neck out," said Wesley. But, as a result, "I'm pretty much at the end of my finances."
Wesley said he may eventually close up shop and give up the Android box business. "I don't really know where we go from here. It doesn't look very good."