October 31, 2018
After a year-long battle, the 11th Collegiate Court in Mexico City overturned a previous ruling that forced Roku, a company that sells devices enabling customers to stream TV content, to cease sales within Mexico due to concerns over piracy.
The issue first arose when Cablevision, the cable TV operator owned by Mexican media giant Televisa, sued Roku alleging the company’s devices were being hacked through its “private channels” option, allowing users to watch pirated channels. This allowed Roku to benefit from these channels and their popularity, and turn a blind eye to the piracy issue. Roku denied these claims and argued it had not enabled the distribution of pirated content and, in fact, took down the pirated channels once discovered.
The Superior Court of Justice of the City of Mexico issued an order that prevented the importation of Roku devices and prohibited stores, such as Amazon and Sears, from offering them for sale. Roku appealed the ban, which was overturned by a federal judge. However, on June 28, 2017, a Mexico City Tribunal upheld the previous ban. Roku appealed several times, but did not succeed.
After the original ban in June 2017, Roku took more aggressive measures to crack down on the piracy by increasing the number of warnings informing its customers that channels have to abide by its terms and distribute legal content. Some channels exited Roku on their own, and some were removed by the company. Earlier this year, the company announced that following more aggressive anti-piracy policies, 99.5 percent of all streamlining time on the platform worldwide was spent on legitimate, legal channels.
The 11th Collegiate Court in Mexico City has now found the original ban to have been incorrect and that the Roku device is not illegal. The Court acknowledged Roku’s efforts to keep pirated content off the service. The original complainant, Cablevision, warned it would take further legal action to have any future pirated channels blocked via the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property and other local authorities.
Roku’s general counsel Stephen Kay said: "Today’s decision is an important victory for Roku and its Mexican distributor, Latamel Distribuidora, S. de R.L. de C.V. and Mexican retailers in the legal battle against an improper ban on sales of its popular streaming players in Mexico. We are pleased with the Collegiate Court’s decision and look forward to continuing to build Roku’s TV streaming business in Mexico."
The company announced it will restart its sales in Mexico.
Author: Abid Khalid