Supreme Court upholds lower court decision ordering Bell to pay Videotron and TVA Group $141 million for failing to prevent satellite signal piracy

Quebecor today welcomed the Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal to hear Bell ExpressVu’s appeal of an historic Québec Court of Appeal judgement ordering it to compensate Videotron and TVA Group for having neglected to implement an appropriate security system to prevent piracy of its television signals broadcast by satellite between 1999 and 2005. With interest and experts’ fees, Bell now owes Videotron and TVA Group a total of at least $141 million.

We are pleased that the Supreme Court has confirmed a Québec Court of Appeal judgement which unequivocally found that, by its wrongful inaction, Bell encouraged piracy of its satellite signals, causing considerable harm to Bell’s competitors in general and to Videotron in particular. The unprecedented size of the damages award reflects the gravity of the harm. Hopefully, the outcome of this legal saga will prevent the recurrence of any similar situation and consumers will be able to enjoy the benefits of healthy competition, which promotes technological innovation and quality service.

Pierre Dion President and CEO of Quebecor

The Supreme Court decision spells the final chapter in legal proceedings that began in 2005. It definitively confirms the trial court decision rendered in July 2012 by the Honourable Joel A. Silcoff of Québec Superior Court, who ruled as follows:

[716] For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that BEV(1): (i) was fully aware of the serious breaches of its existing CAS(2)and the consequent damages of such breaches to itself and others, (ii) had the available technological and administrative means available to address this problem and (iii) failed to act in a timely manner to rectify the situation.

[717] Its efforts to address the serious breaches of its CAS in an effective and timely fashion were ineffective and neither prudent nor reasonable.

[726] It cannot be disputed that BEV was well aware that this was happening and that damages were being caused as a direct and immediate consequence of its failure to adequately secure its signal. Initially, it chose to ignore the gravity of the problem. It then unduly delayed taking appropriate measures to rectify the situation until well into May 2004 when final approval of the necessary funding to perform the card swap was obtained. The full swap-out was only completed in July 2005 (…).

(1) Bell ExpressVu

(2) Conditional Access System: System giving conditional access to TV signals carried by Bell ExpressVu devices.

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