More ISP blocking in different EU countries
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Deutsch: Neue Netzsperren in immer mehr EU-Ländern
More and more cases were won in court by rightsholders against file-sharing platforms in the past weeks, but the blocking habits of the ISPs are starting to show their limits.
The UK High Court ruled on 20 February 2012 that the operators of The Pirate Bay (TPB) and its users are both guilty of infringing the copyright of rights holders in a case brought by major recording companies including Sony, EMI and Warner. Mr Justice Arnold said that the operators had the ability to prevent illegal file-sharing but did not do so. "The matters I have considered in relation to authorisation lead to the conclusion that the operators of TPB induce, incite or persuade its users to commit infringements of copyright, and that they and the users act pursuant to a common design to infringe," said the ruling. The UK's six biggest internet service providers (ISPs) will probably now be forced to block their customers' access to TPB all over UK.
The UK High Court created the precedent in 2011 when it ruled that BT provider had to block access to the Newzbin2 website after the Motion Picture Association (MPA) had claimed the site infringed the copyright of six major film studios. Since then, MPA has also obtained a court order forcing other UK ISPs, including Sky and TalkTalk, to block their customers' access to Newzbin2.
Denmark, after having banned TBP, is now ordering an ISP to block access to the US-based streaming music service Grooveshark as well in a case brought to court in 2011 by a group of more than 30 rightsholders collectively known as RettighedsAlliancen. The Danish Bailiff Court ruled that both Grooveshark and its users infringed recording label copyrights and granted an injunction forcing an ISP to initiate the service blocking.
RettighedsAlliancen argued that Grooveshark had no content agreements or licenses with the members of her group and stated that the service had been "completely uncooperative" in negotiations, and therefore it had been impossible to take down content from it.
The "randomly" targeted ISP was '3', accused of contributing to infringements, as its customers were in breach of copyright through Grooveshark.
The ISP argued that part of the content on Grooveshark was actually legal, since artists and labels legally uploaded and distributed their music via the service. Therefore an order of injunction would be disproportionate and would result in the censorship of legal content as well. But the court considered that the extent of the copyright violations overwhelmed the legal distribution.
Based on the Danish implementation of the Infosoc Directive, the court ordered an immediate injunction against '3' prohibiting the ISP to facilitate subscriber access to Grooveshark.
In Finland, in May 2011, local rightsholders groups filed a lawsuit at the District Court of Helsinki asking that local ISP Elisa should start blocking TPB. Although Elisa refused, it was eventually forced to comply by subsequent court order in October 2011.
However, one of the ISPs customers, Antti Laine, has filed a complaint with the court that demanded the blocking of that website. He considers that under the Finnish copyright law, any injunction should avoid collateral damage and that the "enforcement of the decision is based on an erroneous application of law." He also argues that part of his media was being distributed via The Pirate Bay and, now, this distribution of the content is being affected.
Overblocking can also lead to situations when organisations such as La Quadrature du Net find their websites blocked due to certain ISP filtering procedures. It has recently come out that Orange UK was filtering, on pre-paid mobile accounts, the access to the website of La Quadrature du Net, advocacy group defending citizen's fundamental rights on the Internet. The blocking apparently was done by "mistake" and was removed during the week-end 17-19 February.
This mobile blocking technology was built to prevent individuals under the age of 18 from viewing adult-related content on sites. La Quadrature du Net website blocking under such a category shows "over-blocking is being exacerbated by a lack of transparency (so that it's not clear what is blocked and to whom)" as expressed by EDRi-member Open Rights Group which believes that "More efficient measures need to be implemented in order to allow parents to implement tools to try to manage their children's Internet use whilst ensuring that adults are not subject to unnecessary censorship". The group intends to gather "more evidence of the scale of the over-blocking problem through blocked.org.uk site".
Court Orders ISP To Block Grooveshark (21.02.2011)
The Pirate Bay Faces UK ISP Block After High Court Ruling (20.02.2012)
High Court rules The Pirate Bay operators and users guilty of copyright
Pirate Bay ISP Block Challenged For Censoring Lawful Content (20.02.2012)
Orange UK blocking La Quadrature du Net (15.02.2012)