More ISP blocking in different EU countries

By EDRi · February 29, 2012

This article is also available in:
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

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

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 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
infringement (20.02.2012)

Pirate Bay ISP Block Challenged For Censoring Lawful Content (20.02.2012)

Orange UK blocking La Quadrature du Net (15.02.2012)