Sunday

30th Apr 2017

Internet providers can be forced to block access to illegal downloads, rules EU Court

EU-based internet service providers can be ordered to block customers’ access to a copyright-infringing website, following a ruling on Thursday (27 March) by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The judgement follows a dispute between Austrian Internet provider Telekabel Wien and two film companies, based in Germany and Austria, over whether the internet service provider (ISP) should be forced to prevent its customers from accessing film download site kino.to, a Tonga-based website that received nearly 4 million visitors a day.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The ruling strengthens the ability of music and other creative industries to tackle piracy (Photo: Cyrus Farivar)

Although the Austrian courts stated that Telekabel should block access to the site - which was closed down in 2011 following police action - Telekabel argued that blocking measures could be evaded by downloaders and would be "excessively costly".

The EU's copyright directive gives rights holders the power to request an injunction against intermediaries who provide services that can be used to breach copyright.

Despite its protestations, the EU's top court found that, as an internet provider allowing its customers to view copyrighted films and music, Telakabel could be classified as an intermediary.

"The Court notes, in that regard, that the directive, which seeks to guarantee a high level of protection of rights holders, does not require a specific relationship between the person infringing copyright and the intermediary against whom an injunction may be issued," it said.

"Internet users and also, indeed, the ISP must be able to assert their rights," the Court added.

The UK and Ireland are among a handful of countries already taking action to block access to sites such as Swedish-based download site Pirate Bay, through ISPs.

In a statement, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a music industry lobby group welcomed the ruling which it said confirmed that "copyright is itself a fundamental right requiring protection."

"The decision by the ECJ today confirming that website blocking does not infringe fundamental rights in the EU is an important clarification that will strengthen the ability of music and other creative industries to tackle piracy," IFPI added.

The ECJ ruling marks a volte face from a ruling by the same court in 2011 which found that Belgian internet provider Belgacom Scarlet, could not be forced by a national court to block users from illegally sharing music and video files.

Brussels examines where to put marker on copyright enforcement

With Brussels set to publish proposals on intellectual property rights later this year, debate on how to tackle internet piracy and ensure copyright protection has reached fever pitch. Rasmus Stolberg from the award-winning Danish band Efterklang asks if there is any justification for not paying for the work of artists.

Read more in the EUobserver April FOCUS on Digital Agenda.

Focus

EU court rules social networks cannot police downloads

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has struck the latest blow in the debate over internet policing, ruling on Thursday that online social network sites cannot be forced to construct measures to prevent users from downloading songs illegally.

EU boasts unity on Brexit talks

EU leaders adopted the bloc's guidelines for the UK exit negotiations that will start in June, amid concerns that France could elect a president that would try to take it out of the EU.

Column / Brexit Briefing

May’s election juggernaut

The prime minister's Tories almost need not bother campaigning for the June election. There is no opposition worthy of the name.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual