EU ISPs Will Have to Ban Pirate Portals

Recently, the European Court of Justice has handed down a ruling in some Austrian case, saying that all European countries can ask broadband providers to block copyright infringers, no matter the networks are involved or not.

The court ruling, which confirms a decision made late in 2013, follows a dispute between two film studios (German Constantin Film Verleih and the Wega-Filmproduktionsgesellschaft) and the ISP Telekabel Wien.

The Internet service provider has lost its case, where it argued that it should not have to block access to the popular video streaming portal, because the ISP can’t be responsible for the website’s actions. The judge ruled that the ISP allowed its subscribers to access copyrighted content made available to the public online by a third party, and therefore acted as an intermediary whose services were used to infringe a copyright. This means that the Europeans laws don’t require governments to limit injunctions to just the parties directly linked to a case.

Internet free speech advocates were not happy about this news, because this ruling favors the governments who want to block websites. The Internet service providers are also upset, as they may have to pay extra to obey these content restriction orders.

In the meantime, the entertainment industry is delighted, as encouraging governments to crack down on pirates is much easier than trying to bend the legislation to its will. For example, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry claimed that local filtering was consistent with fundamental rights under the law of the European Union, once again confirming that copyright is itself a fundamental right which needs to be protected.
Industry experts admit that now it is up to the Austrian government to decide whether it wants to go ahead with the move. As for the government of the United Kingdom, for example, it makes no difference, because the UK just blocks everything that moves.