Thursday

19th Oct 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

EU okays Privacy Shield's first year

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote

As the renewal of the weedkiller glyphosate is a hot potato on the EU agenda, with a vote in the Parliament on Thursday, the role of two closely-involved EU agencies has come under scrutiny.

Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle

The European parliament claims the media and public do not have a right to supervise or monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

News in Brief

  1. Madrid eyes early elections as solution to Catalan crisis
  2. Merkel starts coalition talks to form government by December
  3. Iceland confirms long-standing EU opposition, poll shows
  4. EU summit moved to previous building after fumes scare
  5. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  6. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  7. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  8. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. Macron puts trade policy on summit table
  2. EU okays Privacy Shield's first year
  3. EU seeks to decrypt messages in new anti-terror plan
  4. EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote
  5. Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis
  6. How EU can ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia's legacy survives
  7. Juncker dinner to warm up relations with eastern EU
  8. Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle