Québec Judge Rules In Favour of Subscribing to Foreign TV Channels Via Satellite

:: As someone who wants to be able to subscribe to HBO, I almost fell off the couch reading this article, which appeared in many Canadian newspapers this morning:

Making it illegal for Canadians to subscribe to television programming via foreign satellite systems infringes on their freedom of expression, a long-awaited judgment concluded yesterday.

Quebec Court Judge Danielle Côté handed down a 153-page ruling that found two sections of the federal Radiocommunication Act violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Those sections deal with so-called grey-market satellite systems for decoding an encrypted programming signal.

In 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it was a federal offense to sell technology which allowed consumers to get access to encrypted signals from US-based satellite systems. Côté’s ruling could eventually lead to the end of the CRTC dictating to Canadians what they can and cannot watch on their televisions. Côté is allowing a one-year grace period before her ruling comes into effect. Consider that appeals will probably be made as well, meaning that change could take a while. But it’s a move in the right direction.

The court order was sought by Jacques D’Argy of Drummondville, after years of legal battles:

D’Argy, representing himself throughout all the court proceedings, said yesterday he always wondered “why can I import the New York Times but not (the U.S. television network) Fox.”

Well, DUH! The Red Sox win the World Series, and a ruling in favour of allowing access in Canada to US cable networks. What a great week.

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