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  1. A few minutes ago Australia passed controversial new legislation which allows for overseas 'pirate' sites to be blocked at the ISP level. Despite opposition from the Greens, ISPs and consumer groups, the Senate passed the bill into law with a vote of 37 in favor and 13 against. Expect The Pirate Bay to be an early target. Following intense pressure from entertainment industry groups, late 2014 Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked the Cabinet to develop legislation which would allow ‘pirate’ sites to be blocked at the ISP level. In March 2015 the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 (pdf) was introduced to parliament and earlier this month it received the green light following a parliamentary committee investigation. A few moments ago and following just three months of consideration by parliament, the Australian Senate passed the legislation into law. The net result is that in the months and years to come, sites like The Pirate Bay will become inaccessible by regular direct means to most local Internet users. While there will be celebrations in Hollywood, not everyone in the process is happy with the outcome. The Australian Greens outright rejected the legislation, a position shared by several independents. ISPs and technology companies also complained about elements of the legislation, alongside consumer groups such as Choice who expressed concern that the scope of the law could be expanded in future. In the final count, 37 voted in favor and 13 against, with the Coalition and Labor in favor and the Greens and three other senators voting against. Labor joined the government to vote down several amendments tabled by the Greens aimed at narrowing the scope of the legislation. Despite an effort by the government to calm nerves last week by ensuring consumers that VPNs won’t be targeted by the legislation, a specific exemption for VPN providers was rejected. The legislation does not detail who will pay the ISPs’ costs associated with blocking websites. Earlier this month it was noted by a parliamentary committee that costs should “primarily be borne by those parties who are seeking the remedy†but nothing firm has been agreed thus far. The passing of the law was welcomed by Foxtel Chief Executive, Richard Freudenstein. “We are pleased that the Government and Opposition have taken strong action to combat online piracy. They recognize that, not only is piracy theft and therefore morally wrong, it is harmful to Australia’s creative communities and to businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of Australians,†Freudenstein said. “These offshore sites are not operated by noble spirits fighting for the freedom of the internet, they are run by criminals who profit from stealing other people’s creative endeavors.†The Bill will now be sent to the Governor-General for royal assent at which point it will become effective immediately.
  2. Google has failed in its efforts to overturn a worldwide site-blocking order handed down by a Canadian court in 2014. The British Columbia Court of Appeal found that despite not being a party to the case, Google must block a range of websites from its worldwide search results due to its business presence in the country. The prominence of Google in endless Internet-related matters often sees the company get tangled up in the disputes of others. A case from 2014 provides a particularly interesting example. Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack saw two Canadian entities embroiled in legal action over stolen intellectual property used to manufacture competing products. Google has no direct links to the case whatsoever, yet it became sucked in when Equustek Solutions claimed that Google’s search results were helping to send visitors to websites operated by the defendants (former Equustek employees) that were selling unlawful products. Google previously removed links to the sites from its results on a voluntary basis, but Equustek wanted a broader response. In a subsequent court ruling handed in British Columbia, Google was ordered to remove the infringing websites’ listings from its central database in the United States, meaning that the ruling had worldwide implications. Google was given a little under two weeks to comply with the decision but quickly appealed in the hope of achieving a better outcome. Now, a year later, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has handed down its decision and it’s more bad news for Google. According to an analysis by Canadian law professor Michael Geist, the decision addresses two key questions, both involving jurisdiction. i) Whether the court has jurisdiction over Google ii) Whether the injunction handed down in Canada has power outside its borders On the first issue, Google argued that it does not operate servers in British Columbia, nor does it have any local offices. However, the Court decided that the company does carry out business in the region. “Google does not have resident employees, business offices, or servers in the Province, but its activities in gathering data through web crawling software, in distributing targeted advertising to users in British Columbia, and in selling advertising to British Columbia businesses are sufficient to uphold the chambers judge’s finding that it does business in the Province,†the ruling (pdf) reads. On the second issue – whether a court order handed down in British Columbia could have jurisdiction beyond its borders – the Court of Appeal again ruled against Google. “British Columbia courts are called upon to adjudicate disputes involving foreign residents on a daily basis, and the fact that their decisions may affect the activities of those people outside the borders of British Columbia is not determinative of whether an order may be granted,†the ruling reads. Noting Google’s concerns that it could potentially be “subjected to restrictive orders from courts in all parts of the world, each concerned with its own domestic law,†the court underlined the importance of exercising caution when handing down orders that have the potential to limit expression in another country. However, it found no problem with the ruling of the lower Court. “In the case before us, there is no realistic assertion that the judge’s order will offend the sensibilities of any other nation. It has not been suggested that the order prohibiting the defendants from advertising wares that violate the intellectual property rights of the plaintiffs offends the core values of any nation,†the ruling reads. However, should any nation have an issue with the decision, they are free to appeal, the ruling adds. “In the unlikely event that any jurisdiction finds the order offensive to its core values, an application could be made to the court to modify the order so as to avoid the problem.†Dismissing Google’s appeal, Justice Groberman signs off on the blocking injunction in Equustek Solutions’ favor. “The plaintiffs have established, in my view, that an order limited to the search site would not be effective. I am satisfied that there was a basis, here, for giving the injunction worldwide effect,†the Judge concludes. Google is reportedly considering its options, with an escalation to the Supreme Court a potential (but as yet unconfirmed) outcome.
  3. The Australian parliamentary committee investigating the government's 'pirate' site-blocking Bill has given the legislation the green light. In a report published this morning the committee recommends that following several amendments the Bill should be passed. As a result, sites such as The Pirate Bay will soon by off-limits to Aussie subscribers. Late 2014, Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked the Australian Cabinet to approve the development of a new system which would allow rightsholders to obtain site-blocking injunctions against ISPs. In March a draft of that legislation was introduced to parliament. Since then the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 has been under investigation by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. After examining the framework which allows rightsholders to apply for blocks against ‘pirate’ sites located overseas, this morning the Committee published a report that notes four recommendations but otherwise gives the legislation a green light. Recommendations When an application is made by a rightsholder for a blocking injunction, the Bill in its current form requires the Court to consider at least eight factors when determining whether an application should be granted. These include whether a site shows a general disregard for copyright, whether it has been blocked already in another jurisdiction, and the ‘flagrancy’ of any infringement. Responding to rightsholder complaints that the bar had been set too high, alongside a belief that the thresholds for proving infringement had been narrowly established elsewhere in the Bill, the Committee advised an amendment from “is to take the following matters into account†to the watered down “may take the following matters into accountâ€. The recommendations also address VPNs, noting that “the Bill does not explicitly contemplate the introduction of injunctions against VPNsâ€, adding that “VPNs are unlikely to meet the ‘primary purpose test’ [designed for infringing uses].†The Committee noted, however, that it would be “reassured†if the government clarified the status of such tools. In respect of the “reasonable steps†ISPs will be expected to take in order to “disable access to an online locationâ€, the Committee advised that these may include the posting of a landing page, similar to those currently used in the UK, which advise visitors that the site in question has been blocked alongside details of the order. In another recommendation the Committee calls upon the government to provide greater clarity and guidance on the issue of costs and liability for ISPs after they comply with a court order to block a site. “The committee urges the government to clarify its position regarding the attribution of costs of compliance with orders where injunctive relief is granted,†the report reads. “The committee notes the persuasive evidence of service providers to the effect that as [an ISP] bears no fault or liability for the infringement of copyright by its subscribers, [the ISP] should not be required to contribute to the cost of the remedy. The committee is of the view that more clarity is required to reassure [iSPs] that the costs associated with site-blocking will primarily be borne by those parties who are seeking the remedy.†In other words, if rightsholders want to benefit from a site block, they should be the ones to pay for its implementation. Finally, the Committee advises that the new legislation should be given an initial 24 months to do its work. At this point it should be re-examined to assess its performance. “The committee recommends that the government conduct a formal review of the effectiveness of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill2015, to be completed two years after its enactment,†the Committee concludes. Dissenting Report – Australian Greens In a second report published alongside the Committee’s this morning, Senator Scott Ludlam of the Australian Greens slams the Bill as the “latest in a long line of misguided attempts by the government to monitor, control and censor the Internet.†Noting that the Bill hands “significant†new censorship powers to the court, Ludlam says that the evidence shows that it will be relatively easy to bypass the Bill’s provisions. Furthermore, the Bill lacks safeguards to ensure that legitimate online sources aren’t subjected to overblocking. “Most importantly, there is also a significant weight of evidence showing that the Bill will not meet its aims, as it does not address the underlying cause of online copyright infringement: The continual refusal of offshore rights holders to make their content available in a timely, convenient and affordable manner to Australians,†Ludlam concludes.
  4. The European Commission adopted a new Digital Single Market Strategy today, which aims to improve consumer access to digital services and goods. Among other things, Europe vows to end geo-blocking and lift other unwarranted copyright restrictions. Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library. The same is true for many other media services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, and even YouTube. These geo-blocking practices have been a thorn in the side of the European Commission, who now plan to abolish these restrictions altogether. Today the EU’s governing body adopted the new Digital Single Market Strategy. One of the main pillars of the new strategy is to provide consumers and businesses with better access to digital goods and services. Among other things the Commission plans “to end unjustified geo-blocking,†which it describes as “a discriminatory practice used for commercial reasons.†“I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe,†Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says. Another key element on the new strategy is a modern and more European copyright law. The Commission notes that the legislative proposals to achieve this will follow before the end of the year. Under the revamped copyright law it should be easier for consumers to access and enjoy content online. This means that consumers will have the right to access content they purchased at home in other European countries. According to the Commission various industries need to adapt to the new realities of the digital age, indirectly hinting at the restrictive and conservative movie industry. “Europe has strengths to build on, but also homework to do, in particular to make sure its industries adapt, and its citizens make full use of the potential of new digital services and goods, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger says. “We have to prepare for a modern society and will table proposals balancing the interests of consumers and industry,†he adds. The new Digital Single Market Strategy doesn’t come as a surprise. Previously, several insiders called for the lifting of many unnecessary copyright restrictions. With the plans now being official it will be interesting to see what concrete proposals will follow and how the copyright industries respond.
  5. In a submission to the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network has addressed site blocking and potential threats to VPN use. While the former could descend into an expensive consumer-funded game of whac-a-mole, clarification is required to remove potential threats to VPNs. After Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked the Australian Cabinet to approve the development of a new legal mechanism allowing rightsholders to obtain site-blocking injunctions, legislation was introduced to parliament last month. What followed is a still-current six-week consultation period for additional submissions, with various groups invited to voice their opinions and concerns. While the site-blocking elements of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 are likely to please rightsholders, concerns remain that not only will the legislation fail to achieve its aims, but may also have unintended consequences that could stifle consumer choice. In its submission the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the body that represents the interests of consumers on communications issues including broadband and emerging Internet services, three key issues are raised – VPN use, efficacy and cost of blocking, plus consumer interests. The VPN problem ACCAN is concerned over some of the wording employed in the amendments. Instead of referencing “website blockingâ€, the legislation speaks about “online locationsâ€. While this appears to be an effort to future-proof the Bill, it also has the potential for additional consequences should rightsholders decide to exploit the ambiguity. “Our first concern relates to the scope of activities that may be picked up by an interpretation of an ‘online location’ which ‘facilitates an infringement’ of copyright,†ACCAN writes. “Without clear legal precedent, there is ambiguity under the Copyright Act about what constitutes infringement in relation to the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to gain access to geo-blocked products and services. If this ambiguity is not cleared up, this amendment may have the unintended consequence of blocking these services and in turn harm competition and consumer choice.†And confusion does exist. On his website Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull says that the Copyright Act does not make it illegal to use a VPN to access overseas content. On the other hand, the Australian Copyright Council believes that using a VPN to download content licensed overseas is “likely to be an infringement of copyright in Australia.†While it was previously reported that the Bill had been delayed due to modifications aimed at protecting VPN-like services, ACCAN says that it would prefer clarity on the matter. “While this ambiguity exists there is a risk that rights holders will attempt to use this injunctive power to block VPN websites and limit consumer access to paid content overseas,†the group writes. And the threat is real. As reported last week, New Zealand based media companies report that they are on the verge of suing local ISPs who provide VPN services designed to unlock overseas content. Avoiding the same thing Down Under is a priority for ACCAN. Protecting the public interest In most countries where rightsholders have demanded site blocking on copyright grounds, ISPs have refused to block voluntarily and have insisted on a court order. This has resulted in processes where movie and recording industry companies become the plaintiffs and ISPs the defendants. The sites themselves aren’t involved in the process, and neither are their users. “[We] remain concerned that a judge in an ex parte hearing will not have the requisite evidence at hand to weigh the public interest against those of rights holders,†ACCAN writes. “The amendment creates no right for legitimate users of a site to present evidence on any adverse consequences of an injunction. There should be a presumption in the Bill in favor of allowing parties to become interveners or amicus curiae in the context of these injunction applications.†Efficacy and costs of blocking Like many other similarly focused groups, ACCAN is concerned that not only will site / online location blocking prove ineffective when it comes to stopping infringement, but the bill for the exercise will ultimately fall at the feet of the consumer. Citing Dutch studies which found that blocking The Pirate Bay enjoyed only short-lived success, ACCAN voices concerns that once one site is blocked, users will simply migrate elsewhere. “This research confirmed the findings in other studies which found that legal action against file sharing often has an immediate effect, but this typically fades out after a period of six months as new sources for pirated content emerge. ACCAN’s concern is that this website blocking bill may devolve into an expensive game of ‘whack-a-mole’, which consumers will end up paying for through higher internet bills,†the group writes. Similar fears over consumers picking up costs for online infringement enforcement have been voiced across Europe and in the United States, but in no cases has that caused a court to deny rightsholders the opportunity to protect their copyrights. It is guaranteed that one way or another – via their Internet bill or through the cost of media – Aussies will eventually pay for the proposed enforcement measures The Bill is currently under review by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, with a report due in a little under a month.
  6. A draft of new legislation aimed at stopping Aussie consumers accessing 'pirate' sites has been made available this morning. The amendments, which contain criteria that could see hundreds of sites blocked by ISPs, is believed to have been reworded to ensure that VPN services don't become caught in the dragnet. During December 2014, Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked the Australian Cabinet to approve the development of a new legal mechanism which would allow rightsholders to obtain site-blocking injunctions against ISPs. Today that legislation was introduced to parliament. Kept under wraps until this morning, the site-blocking elements of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 are likely to please rightsholders with their significant reach. Injunctions against providers In order to apply for an injunction against an ISP, rightsholders need to show that the provider in question provides access to “an online location†outside Australia and that the “location†infringes or facilitates infringement of copyright. The location’s primary purpose must be to infringe copyright, “whether or not in Australiaâ€. Aside from the rightsholder and ISP, operators of “locations†(the word ‘site’ is not used, presumably to add breadth) will be given the option to apply to become party to any proceedings. Once an injunction is handed down against an ISP it will be required to take “reasonable steps†to disable access to the infringing site. What amounts to reasonable will almost certainly be the subject of further discussion as any over-broad moves could result in collateral damage and bad PR. Issues determining whether sites/locations become blocked Currently there are 11 areas that the Court will examine when deciding whether to hand down an injunction. The key issues involve intent, in particular whether a location/site’s primary purpose is to infringe and the flagrancy of any infringement. In a nod to BitTorrent and similar indexes around today (Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and Usenet sites, for example), the Court will consider whether the location “makes available or contains†any “directories, indexes or categories of the means to infringe, or facilitate an infringement of, copyright.†The Court will also consider whether the operator of the “location†demonstrates “disregard†for copyright. In the case of The Pirate Bay, for example, that should be easy to show but for others such as KickassTorrents – which removes masses of content following rightsholder request – the line becomes more wavy. That being said, removing content alone won’t be enough to save a site from the blocklist. The Court will also take into consideration whether a site has already been blocked on copyright infringement or related grounds anywhere else on the planet. That immediately puts at least 110 UK-blocked sites in the spotlight. Other issues to be considered are more focused on the needs of the public, such as whether blocking a resource would be “proportionateâ€, in the public interest, or likely to have a “an impact†on third parties. Who will be allowed to have an input into these matters is not detailed but participating in court proceedings could prove prohibitively expensive for smaller groups. Additional matters The draft caters for injunctions to have a limited duration, and be rescinded or varied upon application. While ISPs will be expected to spend money on implementing injunctions, they won’t be liable for any costs in relation to injunction proceedings, unless they wish to take part. Unless rightsholders go overboard or there is public outcry, it seems unlikely that Aussie ISPs will choose to do so. VPN friendly While the draft is now up for debate and amendment, changes are reported to have been introduced as late as last week, delaying its introduction. According to SMH the legislation was worded in such a way that VPN providers could have been eligible for blocking if the Court decided they were facilitating infringement. “In an area such as this if you are not really specific you end up catching a lot more stuff than you are potentially targeting,†a source explained. Of course, the current draft could still scoop up a VPN provider if it marketed itself as a service designed for piracy, but there are few if any that are that naive today. Overall As it currently stands the draft appears to have ‘teeth’ and the scope to take down any significant ‘pirate’ site or service on the planet, at least as far as regular Aussie Internet subscribers are concerned and provided their ISPs have the technical ability. Another rightsholder-pleasing aspect of the Bill is the lack of limits being placed on the number of sites that can be blocked in a single injunction. While it may make sense to have the facts heard against a few well-known sites in an initial order, subsequent orders could potentially list hundreds of additional sites alongside comment that they are “structurally similar†to those already presented. Also of interest is the continued use of the words “online location†instead of “siteâ€. This is likely in preparation for new technologies, or perhaps even some of the decentralized technologies already available today. There will now be a six week consultation period for additional submissions and tweaks. Torrentfreak
  7. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill was today cleared for introduction into the Australian parliament. In a whirlwind of activity it's expected to be passed this week and will herald the ISP-level blocking of "overseas pirate sites". The body representing the country's ISPs has expressed disappointment at the complete lack of consultation. For many years Australia has struggled with a reputation for being a country of file-sharing pirates. Following a period of heated debate, during the summer of 2014 two key piracy-tackling strategies boiled to the surface. First, in some way, shape or form, copyright holders would get access, indirectly if necessary, to communicate with errant Internet users found to be downloading and sharing copyrighted material without permission. Pressure built, with the government warning ISPs that they must come up with a voluntary solution to the problem or have one forced upon them. Last month in collaboration with rightsholders, proposals were placed on the table. It now seems almost certain that Aussie file-sharers will be subjected to a three-strikes style regime. The second element involved the ‘pirate’ sites themselves. Australian law allows local authorities to easily close down sites in their own territory should the need arise. While that’s not unheard of – a 400,000 member torrent tracker was shut down in 2008 – Australia isn’t best known for hosting popular torrent sites. The problem, according to the government, comes from overseas. Early December 2014, Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked the Cabinet to approve the development of a new legal mechanism which would allow rightsholders to obtain site blocking injunctions against ISPs. And now, just three months later, it is all systems go. This week the government will deliver new legislation to tackle the problem. Led by Brandis, the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill was today cleared for introduction into parliament. And things are moving extremely quickly. According to ITNews, the legislation is planned to be introduced into parliament Wednesday or Thursday with a view to having it passed by the end of the week. Despite many countries now making extensive use of the process, site blocking itself is highly controversial. In the UK, for example, rightsholders initially have to go court but are then free to add news sites to existing injunctions, even ones that don’t directly infringe any copyrights. So what mechanism does the Aussie model envision? Somewhat disappointingly those details are being kept a secret. The text of the bill hasn’t yet been made public and even the country’s ISPs are being kept in the dark. John Stanton, CEO of the Communications Alliance, the body that proposed the recent “three strikes†system on behalf of ISPs, said he is “disappointed†that his group hadn’t been consulted. Some consultation would have of course been preferable, since it is the ISPs who will be expected to put the site blocks into place. Whether copyright holders have a greater insight isn’t clear, but the head of the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association confirmed that he hadn’t seen a copy of the draft legislation either. In any event, introducing site blocking to Australian Internet users should be an interesting thing to behold, especially when compared to other site-block regions with different consumption pattern backgrounds. After years of being treated as second-class content consumers who have to wait longer and pay more for their content, Aussies have become extremely adept at using VPN and proxy services to access legal services such as Netflix. Those same tools can be used to easily evade site bans and recent concerns over the introduction of a strikes mechanism has only boosted interest in them. Torrentfreak
  8. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry says it is preparing to have several "infringing sites" blocked at the ISP level in Singapore. The move, which will target The Pirate Bay should it come back online, follows new legislation introduced last year aimed at smoothing the way for High Court injunctions. Domain blocking is now firmly established as one of the entertainment industries’ go-to methods for reducing online copyright infringement. Its use is widespread around Europe by both the music and movie sector. In Europe the most important legal decision was announced in March last year when the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed that EU ISPs can be required to block access to sites engaged in copyright infringement. Elsewhere, individual countries are making their own decisions on how to move forward. Last July, Singapore legislators approved the Copyright Amendment Bill which allows copyright holders to obtain High Court orders forcing local service providers to block “flagrantly infringing†websites. Now, six months on, entertainment companies are ready to launch their first tests. IFPI regional director Ang Kwee Tiang confirmed that the music group will initially target three to five “infringing sites†over the next two months. “We are now actively looking into exercising this in the future,†he said. The sites to be targeted have not yet been revealed but it’s always been the understanding that The Pirate Bay would be tackled first. The site’s reputation as the “worst-of-the-worst†allows entertainment companies to present a relatively straightforward case to the courts. The rising number of blocking orders already granted elsewhere only add to the mix. “Now, The Pirate Bay has more than 6 million links. We take the screenshots and we show that these are not licensed. We’re going to show that The Pirate Bay has been blocked in nine or 10 different countries. I think that will be very convincing for our cause,†Ang said. However, with The Pirate Bay currently down, it’s possible that other targets will have to be selected in the first batch. Ang confirms that evidence is still being collated but he’s confident that a successful blockade will help to reduce piracy. “I divide (consumers) 80 to 20 – 80 per cent are average consumers, if they cannot get it easily and if a legal site offers it, they may go for the legal site,†he said. “The committed pirate is like a committed criminal. They will search for ways to circumvent. But once we have the website blocking, then we are free to tackle the 20 per cent.†The driving force behind the site blocking phenomenon can be found in the entertainment companies of the United States but following the SOPA debacle public discussion to progress site blocking has been fairly muted. That doesn’t mean nothing has been happening, however. In December it was revealed that behind closed doors the MPAA has been working hard to bring site blocking to the United States. Whether those aims will still be progressed following the somewhat embarrassing leaks will remain to be seen, but it’s likely the movie group won’t be steered off course for long. Overall, Hollywood definitely sees blocking as an important anti-piracy tool. The practice is endorsed by none other than MPAA chief Chris Dodd and internal MPAA research has found it to be effective.
  9. What happens when movie and TV show companies have sites blocked at the ISP level in the UK? A leaked report commission by the studios shows that on the one hand direct traffic to pirate sites seriously reduced. But on the other, usage of unblocked linking-only sites increased by more than 230%. unblockerDuring 2014, several key strategies emerged to lead the mainstream entertainment industries’ anti-piracy efforts. At the consumer end, so-called “strikes†programs saw errant Internet subscribers receive warning notices in an effort to correct their behaviors. Then, on top of sending millions of DMCA-style takedown notices to sites and search engines, entertainment companies went to court in several regions to have domains blocked at the ISP level. The UK was hit particularly hard and now dozens of sites are inaccessible via regular means. But the big question remains – is this an effective way to reduce piracy? Earlier this year the movie studios decided to find out by hiring a company called Incopro to conduct a study. The report has never been made public but TorrentFreak has now obtained a copy. The report, titled ‘Site Blocking Efficacy Study United Kingdom’ is dated September 30, 2014 and focuses on the top 250 “open access†websites involved in the unauthorized distribution of film and television content. Dedicated music sites were not included. Overall the 26 page report, which relies heavily on Alexa data, found that blocking had resulted in targeted sites losing an average 73.2% of their direct traffic. And, when compared to the global control, usage of pirate sites had declined over time. The report breaks sites down into three categories – linking only sites (the majority of sites in the top 250), public P2P portals and hosting. Three sites were identified as the most popular among UK users in August 2014 – (link), (link) and (host), with the former maintaining the number one position for the previous six months. And despite being blocked in March 2013 and taking a large hit in direct traffic, KickassTorrents maintained its place in the top 10. In all cases, direct traffic to ‘pirate’ sites plummeted when ISPs implemented court-ordered blockades. The chart below shows the effect of a 2013 blocking order against BitSnoop, TorrentReactor, TorrentHound, Torrent Downloads, Monova, Filestube, Filecrop, 1337x, Torrentz, TorrentCrazy and ExtraTorrent. However, while direct traffic to ‘pirate’ sites diminishes following blocking actions, Incopro found that a particular kind of site in the top 250 actually does better over time. So-called “linking only†sites (i.e not a P2P portal or hosting site) enjoy significant boosts, as shown in the chart below. “Linking Only sites have shown a growth in usage over time, indicating that these sites increase in usage and can take the place of those that are blocked if they are allowed to grow over time,†the company warns. “In summary, where there are sustained periods of blocking, usage levels are driven downwards across all site categories. Linking Only sites are the fastest growing category and should be considered as blocking targets over a sustained period to curtail their growth.†Circumvention techniques While the Alexa data relied on by Incopro relates to direct traffic to sites, the big unknown is how many people continue to visit blocked sites using circumvention tools such as VPNs and proxy services. In its report, Incopro highlights three different types 1. Dedicated sites offering access or a mirror of a blocked site 2. Sites offering access to more than one blocked site (i.e 3. VPNs or proxy services offering access to any site Immediately there is a problem for anyone looking to measure traffic to sites when the above methods are used. While option 1 is relatively easy to measure, options 2 and 3 present significant technical issues. For these reasons, Incopro measured only option 1. Nevertheless, as the chart below shows, use of dedicated proxies accounts for more than half of blocked “pirate†site traffic. Conclusion In summing up, Incopro found that when a website and all of its domains and dedicated proxies are blocked by court order (and updated quickly), “there is a significant impact in reducing infringement by the sites themselves and a reduction in the overall infringement undertaken by the most popular websites in the UK.†But to really get to the heart of the problem requires a much deeper analysis and the answer to a question that sits way outside the scope of the report. Does site blocking really put more money into the pockets of the entertainment industries? ——————————————————————————— Top 250 leading “pirate†movie/TV sites (dedicated music sites excluded)
  10. The MPAA is in discussions with the major movie studios over ways to introduce site blocking to the United States. TorrentFreak has learned that the studios will try to achieve website blockades using principles available under existing law. Avoiding another SOPA-style backlash is high on the agenda. mpaa-logoSite blocking has become one of the go-to anti-piracy techniques for the music and movie industries. Mechanisms to force ISPs to shut down subscriber access to “infringing†sites are becoming widespread in Europe but have not yet gained traction in the United States. If the Stop Online Piracy Act had been introduced, U.S. blocking regimes might already be in place but the legislation was stamped down in 2012 following a furious public and technology sector revolt. Behind closed doors, however, blocking proponents were simply waiting for the storm to die down. TorrentFreak has learned that during 2013 the MPAA and its major studio partners began to seriously consider their options for re-introducing the site blocking agenda to the United States. Throughout 2014 momentum has been building but with no real option to introduce new legislation, the MPAA has been looking at leveraging existing law to further its aims. Today we can reveal that the MPAA has been examining four key areas. DMCA According to TF sources familiar with the plan, the MPAA began by exploring the possibility of obtaining a DMCA 512(j) blocking injunction without first having to establish that an ISP is also liable for copyright infringement. To get a clearer idea the MPAA commissioned an expert report from a national lawfirm with offices in Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington, DC. Returned in July, the opinion concluded that a U.S. court would “likely†require a copyright holder to establish an ISP as secondarily liable before granting any site-blocking injunction. This option might be “difficult†and financially costly, the law firm noted. Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 19 – ‘Required Joinder of Parties’ – is also under consideration by the MPAA as a way to obtain a blocking injunction against an ISP. In common with the DMCA option detailed above, the MPAA hopes that a blocking order might be obtained without having to find an ISP liable for any wrongdoing. The MPAA is considering a situation in which they obtain a judgment finding a foreign “rogue†site guilty of infringement but one whose terms the target rogue site has failed to abide by. Rule 19 could then be used to join an ISP in the lawsuit against the rogue site without having to a) accuse the ISP of wrongdoing or b) issue any claims against it. The same lawfirm again provided an expert opinion, concluding that the theory was “promising, but largely untested.†Using the ITC to force ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites Among other things the United States International Trade Commission determines the impact of imports on U.S. industry. It also directs action on unfair trade practices including those involving patents, trademarks and copyright infringement. The MPAA has been examining two scenarios. The first involves site-blocking orders against “transit†ISPs, i.e those that carry data (infringing content) across U.S. borders. The second envisions site-blocking orders against regular ISPs to stop them providing access to “rogue†sites. Again, the same lawfirm was asked for its expert opinion. In summary its lawyers found that scenario one presented significant technical hurdles. Scenario two might be feasible, but first ISPs would have to be found in violation of Section 337. “Section 337 declares the infringement of certain statutory intellectual property rights and other forms of unfair competition in import trade to be unlawful practices,†the section reads (pdf). The lawfirm’s August report highlights several potential issues. One noted that an injunction against a domestic ISP would effectively stop outbound requests to “rogue†sites when it is in fact “rogue†sites’ inbound traffic that is infringing. Also at issue is sites that don’t “import†content themselves but merely offer links to such content (torrent sites, for example). Nevertheless, the general conclusion is that if a clear relationship between the linking sites and the infringing content can be established, the ITC may take the view that the end result still amounts to “unfair competition†and “unfair acts†during importation of articles. The Communications Act Details on this final MPAA option involves the Communications Act and how it is perceived by the Federal Communications Commission and the Supreme Court. The scenario balances on the MPAA’s stance that ISPs have taken the “public position†that they are not “telecommunications servicesâ€. When the position of the ISPs and opinions of the FCC and Supreme Court are combined, the MPAA wonders whether the ISPs could become vulnerable. The scenario under discussion is one in which ISPs are not eligible for safe harbor as DMCA 512(a) “conduits†since the DMCA definition of a conduit is the same as the Communications Act’s definition of “telecommunications service†provider. Major meeting two months ago TorrentFreak sources reveal that a large meeting consisting of more than two dozen studio executives took place in October to discuss all aspects of site-blocking. A senior engineer from U.S. ISP Comcast was also invited. On the agenda was a wide range of topics including bringing on board “respected†people in the technology sector to agree on technical facts and establish policy support for site blocking. Other suggestions included encouraging academics to publish research papers with a narrative that site blocking elsewhere in the world has been effective, is not a threat to DNSSEC, and has not “broken the Internetâ€. Conclusion In June, MPAA chief and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd praised pirate site blockades as one of the most important anti-piracy measures, and in August a leaked draft revealed MPAA research on the topic. The big question now is whether the studios’ achievements in Europe will be mirrored in the United States – without a SOPA-like controversy alongside. While the scale is unlikely to be the same, opposition is likely to be vigorous. torrentfreak
  11. Australians who illegally download copyrighted material won't face any new regime to slow down or suspend their Internet connections. However, proposals being presented to cabinet today will outline a new mechanism allowing copyright holders to have 'infringing' sites blocked at the ISP level. For many years Australia has been struggling with a reputation for being a nation of file-sharing pirates and throughout the summer the most serious debate thus far consumed the nation. Leading the charge were rightsholders who tabled demands for ISPs to take greater responsibility for their subscribers, under weight of legislation if necessary. Once this liability had been clearly established, rightsholders argued that ISPs should be forced to send notices to their subscribers. These would warn customers that their connections were being used for piracy and that consequences, including the slowing down or disconnection of Internet services, would follow. Finally, copyright holders sought a formal ‘pirate’ site blocking mechanism. This would allow individual domains to be targeted by legal action in order to have them rendered inaccessible to Australians. After intense debate it appears that a watered-down version of the rightsholders wish-list will today be presented to the Australian Cabinet. According to Fairfax, Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull will present the reforms to colleagues during the final meeting of the year. According to the report, new punishments for Internet downloaders are not part of the proposals, meaning that calls for connection throttling and account suspensions are off the table. Downloaders won’t get a completely free ride though. The ministers’ proposals envision ISPs and rightsholders working together on a voluntary code aimed at educating consumers who persist in sharing files without permission. Administered by telecoms regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the code would see entertainment companies monitoring and gathering information on Internet users who share copyrighted material using BitTorrent. That information would be sent to ISPs who would then be required to forward written notices to subscribers informing them they are breaching copyright. Of course, entertainment companies and ISPs have been here several times before, with negotiations on this very topic breaking down time and again on various issues, including who will pay to implement the scheme. This time, however, the government is threatening to legislate if agreement can’t be reached and if that happens ISPs might find themselves less well off. While they are likely to negotiate hard, it may be in ISPs interests to reach some kind of agreement. The proposals for “extended authorization liability†– holding ISPs responsible for users’ piracy – appear to be off the table, at least for now, and the last thing they need is for that to rear its head again. But whatever happens on those fronts, ISPs will still find themselves in the spotlight on another matter – the controversial issue of site blocking. Today, Brandis and Turnbull will ask the Cabinet to approve the development of a new legal mechanism which will allow rightsholders to obtain site blocking injunctions against ISPs. If approved, movie companies like Village Roadshow will be able to head off to court and have sites like The Pirate Bay blocked by all the major ISPs without too much difficulty. The news of these proposals to Cabinet comes a day after consumer group Choice published the results of a survey which found that 67% of Australians have never pirated movies or TV shows online. Of the 33% that do, half said their motivation was high prices, while 41% complained that content takes too long to arrive in Australia. The research found that 55% of consumers try to obtain content legally before turning to pirate sources. In common with other similar studies, Choice also found that regular pirates are also avid consumers of legitimate content. Of those who pirate at least once a month, 56% will pay to go to the movies, a figure that drops to 36% for the non-pirating group. torrentfreak
  12. UK Internet provider BT blocked two dozen torrent sites this past weekend, including IPTorrents and TorrentDay, two of the largest private trackers. This is the first time that a UK ISP has blocked private torrent sites, and there doesn't appear to be a court order underlying their decision. Following a series of High Court orders, six UK ISPs are currently required to block subscriber access to dozens of the world’s largest torrent sites. The latest order was issued last month after a complaint from the major record labels. It expands the UK blocklist by 21 torrent sites, including,,, and This weekend both BT and Sky implemented the new changes, making it harder for their subscribers to reach these sites. Interestingly, however, BT appears to have gone above and beyond the court order, limiting access to various other sites as well. Over the past several days TorrentFreak has received reports from several users of private torrent sites who get an “error blocked†message instead of their favorite sites. These include the popular and trackers, as well as scene release site IPTorrents and Torrentday are significant targets. Although both sites require prospective users to obtain an invite from a current member (or from the site itself in exchange for cash), they have over a hundred thousand active users. The error displayed when BT subscribers try to access the above URLs is similar to that returned when users to try access sites covered by High Court injunctions. However, there is no known court decision that requires BT to block these URLs. In fact, no UK ISP has ever blocked a private torrent site before. TF contacted BT’s press contact and customer service team but we have yet to receive a response to our findings. Meanwhile, several of the affected users are discussing on Facebook and Twitter how they can bypass the blockades. It appears that for now IPTorrents is still accessible via https and via the site’s alternative .me and .ru domains. In addition, VPNs and proxy servers are often cited among suggested workaround techniques. Whether the private torrent sites will remain blocked and on what grounds remains a mystery for now. We will update this article if BT sends us a response. BT users who spot more unusual blocks are encouraged to get in touch.
  13. Hollywood has helped to get The Pirate Bay blocked in many countries, but not on its home turf. There are now various signs that this may change in the near future. Among other things, the MPAA has conducted internal research to show that site blocking is rather effective. Website blocking has become one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries in recent years. The UK is a leader on this front, with the High Court ordering local ISPs to block access to dozens of popular file-sharing sites, including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents. Not everyone is equally excited about these measures and researchers have called their effectiveness into question. This prompted a Dutch court to lift The Pirate Bay blockade a few months ago. The MPAA, however, hopes to change the tide and prove these researchers wrong. Earlier today Hollywood’s anti-piracy wish list was revealed through a leaked draft various copyright groups plan to submit to the Australian Government. Buried deep in the report is a rather intriguing statement that refers to internal MPAA research regarding website blockades. “Recent research of the effectiveness of site blocking orders in the UK found that visits to infringing sites blocked declined by more than 90% in total during the measurement period or by 74.5% when proxy sites are included,†it reads. In other words, MPAA’s own data shows that website blockades do help to deter piracy. Without further details on the methodology it’s hard to evaluate the findings, other than to say that they conflict with previous results. But there is perhaps an even more interesting angle to the passage than the results themselves. Why would the MPAA take an interest in the UK blockades when Hollywood has its own anti-piracy outfit (FACT) there? Could it be that the MPAA is planning to push for website blockades in the United States? This is not the first sign to point in that direction. Two months ago MPAA boss Chris Dodd said that ISP blockades are one of the most effective anti-tools available. Combine the above with the fact that the United States is by far the biggest traffic source for The Pirate Bay, and slowly the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. It seems only a matter of time before the MPAA makes a move towards website blocking in the United States. Whether that’s through a voluntary agreement or via the courts, something is bound to happen.
  14. The CEO of the IFPI in Austria has been defending his group's attempts to have The Pirate Bay and other torrent sites blocked by local ISPs. Franz Medwenitsch says that using the word "blocking" in these situations is wrong and defending copyright by disabling access to websites does not amount to censorship. Earlier this year a landmark ruling from the European Court of Justice confirmed that ISPs can be forced to block “infringing†websites, providing it’s done in a proportionate manner. The ruling was prompted by a movie distributor caseoriginating in Austria, so it comes as no surprise that local record companies are now seeking to make the most of it. Earlier this week the local branch of the IFPI wrote to local ISPs with a demands that they block The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, 1337x and H33t within days. While the development was welcomed by many pro-copyright entities, among many in the Internet community the feeling persists that site blocking amounts to censorship. Now, IFPI Austria CEO Franz Medwenitsch has countered with his opinion, explaining that the term “Internet blocking†is both misleading and controversial, and that web blockades cannot be considered a restriction of free speech. “Barring is misleading and downright polemical. No one wants to deny access to the Internet!†the IFPI chief explains. “[Our action is] therefore isolated to prevent access to specific websites that offer illegal content and massively engage in copyright infringement. This is a legitimate means of legal protection, the Austrian Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union have justified it.†In his FutureZone piece, Medwenitsch discusses critics’ perception that blocking websites interferes with fundamental rights such as freedom of information. “Blocking access to illegal sites is explicitly compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights,†he contends, adding that comments to the contrary cannot be equated with the those shared by “the people of Europe.†“According to a GfK survey last year, 83 percent of those surveyed in Austria alone – equivalent to more than six million people – held the opinion that artists have a right to their intellectual property and to be paid for the use of their works,†Medwenitsch notes. But just as it’s clear that the blocking of websites has many opponents on fundamental rights grounds, the notion that blockades amount to censorship is an even more thorny issue. Medwenitsch does not share those feelings. “Censorship is the suppression of free speech and everyone who lives in a democratic society categorically rejects censorship,†the IFPI chief says. “But what has freedom of expression got to do with generating advertising revenues by illegally offering tens of thousands of movies and music recordings on the Internet with disregard for creators and artists? And yet the freedom of the author to determine the use of their works themselves is trampled!†Medwenitsch says that individual freedoms have their limits and must be brought to an end when they begin to limit the freedoms of others. In other words, people can have free access to sites while those operating them aren’t infringing on the rights of the recording industry. Finally, Medwenitsch criticizes those who accuse the industry of concentrating on blocking sites like The Pirate Bay while failing to adapt their business models. The industry has indeed adapted, the IFPI chief insists, but unauthorized services inhibit growth and need to be dealt with. “The fact is the digital music services on the Internet today carry 37 million songs. There are 230 digital platforms in Europe – in Austria there are 40 – and the European user numbers have already reached 100 million,†he explains. “The development of the digital market will take a long time due to the inhibiting factors of illegal offerings. Therefore, on the one hand we will investment in new platforms, and on the other hand, take measures against illegal sites.†It remains unclear whether site blocking is having any effect on the availability of infringing content or the numbers of people consuming it. Safe to say, no group has yet put their head above the parapet and presented sales figures to clearly show that is the case.
  15., Russia's fifth most popular domain, has blasted Italy for the blockade of its site on copyright grounds. The Internet giant says that it wasn't informed of any problems and was given no opportunity to engage. The censorship shows that some countries lack a "clear, transparent process for resolving conflicts", said. Every few weeks fresh sites are blocked in Italy on copyright grounds, following either court proceedings or hearings as part of the new AGCOM mechanism. Many of the big ‘pirate’ sites – The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, for example – have been blocked for years but now the country seems intent on blacking out sites that are definitely not in the piracy business. As reported here on Saturday, last week a judge sitting in the Court of Rome ordered local ISPs to block a total of 24 websites including Kim Dotcom’s and Russia’s largest email provider, The size and importance of in its home country and further afield is noteworthy. It’s the fifth most-visited domain in Russia behind only Yandex, Google and social networking giant vKontakte, of which it owns 51.99%. It’s the 39th busiest site worldwide according to Alexa, servicing in excess of 27 million users per day. In a statement this morning said it has still not been able to establish the specifics that lead to it being blocked in Italy. Eyemoon Pictures, the complainant in the case, made no attempt to discuss any issues with before heading off to court, the email giant said. “[Eyemoon Pictures] made no attempt to resolve the situation pretrial,†the company said in a statement. “No notification of illegal content or requirements to remove copies of [Eyemoon's] films has been addressed to Mail.Ru Group from law enforcement agencies and Italy.†The company only realized there was a problem when users began complaining of accessibility issues on July 17. “We learned of the court’s decision from our users, as well as publications in the public domain,† added. Criticizing the effects of the blockade on its userbase, this morning hit out at Italy for taking action without due consideration. “We believe that this situation is detrimental to the interests of our users, and clearly illustrates the fact that some national laws in this area does not consider the specifics of the Internet companies and do not provide a clear, transparent process for resolving such conflicts,†the company said. “There needs to be an active dialogue on the development of international pre-trial procedures for resolving disputes between copyright holders and Internet service providers. Their introduction will improve the position of all parties, including users worldwide,† concludes. At the time of writing, is still inaccessible in Italy with the company having made no progress towards having the censorship lifted.
  16. This morning Singapore became the latest in a line of countries to crack down on copyright infringement via web blocking. Fresh amendments to existing law will allow content owners to obtain injunctions from the High Court to block sites said to be engaged in widespread copyright infringement. Top of the list: The Pirate Bay The battle to stop Internet users from downloading copyrighted material is one that can never be won, but that hasn’t stopped a growing list of countries from having a go. Domain blocking is now one of the preferred methods of reducing copyright infringement around Europe and is endorsed by none other than MPAA chief Chris Dodd. Today, Singapore can be added to the list of site-blocking countries after passing freshing amendments to its Copyright Act. The news, unpopular with many Internet users, caused the term ‘piracy’ to trend on Twitter. The Bill was put before Parliament yesterday but was pushed over to today after time ran out. The newly-passed legislation will allow copyright holders to obtain High Court orders to force local service providers to block access to websites that “flagrantly infringe†copyright. How that will be determined is not yet clear. The new tool will be a useful one for music and movie companies. Previously content was taken down or blocked by ISPs on a case-by-case basis but now wholesale site blocking will become the favored weapon. Local media suggests that the new mechanism could allow sites to be blocked within eight weeks of a successful application. In a statement, Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said the new amendments will help reduce piracy and boost legal alternatives. “The prevalence of online piracy in Singapore turns customers away from legitimate content and adversely affects Singapore’s creative sector,†Rajah said. “It can also undermine our reputation as a society that respects the protection of intellectual property.†Unsurprisingly The Pirate Bay is first on the list of sites set to be targeted by copyright holders, with KickassTorrents reportedly a close second. The law could come into force by the end of August so it’s possible that both sites – and most probably more – will be blocked before the end of the year.
  17. A lawsuit hitting the Moscow City Court next month is aiming to deal with TV show piracy on a much broader basis than case-by-case takedowns. Brought by the local distributor of 15 shows including Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, the suit will aim to purge a wide range of unauthorized TV content from more than a dozen sites. Since August 2013, rightsholders in Russia have enjoyed greater powers to help them deal with websites carrying or linking to pirated movies and TV shows. The pre-trial mechanism allows for the imposition of so-called “preliminary interim measures†should the sites in question fail to remove or block infringing content in a timely fashion. These can include a court ordered service provider blockade of specific URLs. The process has been used dozens of times during the past ten months or so. Earlier this month the Moscow City Court took action to restrict the availability of 15 TV shows illegally posted online including Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, True Blood and American Horror Story. Several torrent site URLs were ordered to be blocked by ISPs, including those on the popular Now, just a week later, the local exclusive rightsholder of the above shows plus others including Boardwalk Empire, True Detective, Homeland, Girls and True Blood, wants to have its content completely blocked on a wide range of sites. The case is being brought by “A Series†and will begin in the Moscow City Court next month. According to Rapsinews, July 10 has been set aside for pre-trial preparations and to clarify the requirements of the parties, including a call for evidence and addressing other issues relevant to the forthcoming trial. The lawsuit will target more than a dozen sites and BitTorrent trackers including,, and, most of which have been targeted in previous actions. News of the lawsuit arrives following the announcement of an agreement between the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Culture to beef up the law introduced last year. A source inside the government told Izvestia that the text of a new anti-piracy bill has been finalized and will be submitted to the Duma in the near future. While the law’s new stricter provisions will be welcomed by rightsholders, the music industry will again be disappointed. Movies and TV shows are covered by current law, but music is not, and the package of amendments about to be presented will not see the introduction of music protection until 2016.
  18. Anti-piracy group BREIN is refusing to back down in its attempts to have The Pirate Bay blocked in the Netherlands. After a big legal defeat in January, the Hollywood-backed group is now taking its case against a pair of local ISPs all the way to the Supreme Court. Both intend to fight all the way. Four years is a long time to fight over a website, but that’s exactly what Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and pair of local ISPs have been doing since 2010. The action began when BREIN targeted Ziggo, the Netherlands’ largest ISP, in an attempt to force it to block The Pirate Bay. Ziggo were later joined in the case by rival ISP XS4ALL, with the pair teaming up against the prospect of a bad precedent and an avalanche of additional blocking demands. The case has taken numerous twists and turns, with a court first deciding that blocking all subscribers was a step too far. BREIN responded to this defeat by taking the case to a full trial, which it won. The ISPs refused to give in, filing subsequent appeals on the basis that any blockade would be ineffective and would deny subscribers free access to information. In January the Court of The Hague sided with Ziggo and XS4ALL, leaving the ISPs to unblock The Pirate Bay, an action they took immediately. BREIN limped away with no blockade and close to half a million dollars in legal fees, but one last legal avenue remained – taking the case to the Supreme Court. According to XS4ALL, on April 25 this year it was summoned by BREIN to defend itself in the Supreme Court. A statement issued by the ISP explains that the appeal will not see the dispute resubmitted in its entirety and judged on its merits as is often the case. Instead, the Supreme Court will only overturn the decision from January if it finds that the Court of the Hague “erred in law†or failed to comply with procedural rules. “The facts as determined by the Court are fixed, the case will not be materially redone and the Supreme Court itself will not perform an investigation. The claimant [bREIN] cannot bring more new facts, nor contest the facts. Only the legal criteria which the Court has applied will be questioned,†the ISP explains. “If the appeal is successful and the judgement of the lower court is set aside, it may be sufficient to conclude the case. If a new examination of the facts is necessary, the Supreme Court will probably refer back the case to the Court for a full retrial,†XS4ALL adds. XS4ALL now has until September 5 to submit a statement for its defense.
  19. In what is being viewed as an over-broad action with serious implications, a Canadian court has ordered Google to completely block a group of websites from its worldwide search results. The ruling was handed down despite Google's protestations that the court has no jurisdiction over Google locally or in the United States. Google’s dominance of the Internet, particularly in search, has seen the company become embroiled in the disputes of countless other companies. Day after day, Google is expected to take action in third parties’ intellectual property complaints to avoid becoming liable itself. Prime examples can be found in the millions of DMCA-style notices the company processes each week. Google must remove those entries or face being accused of facilitating infringement. Another case that Google has become involved in, Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack, sees two Canadian entities face off (the latter previous employees of the former) over stolen intellectual property used to manufacture competing products. While Google has no direct links to the case, the plaintiffs claim that the company’s search engine is helping to direct people to a network of websites operated by the defendants which are selling the unlawful products. Google already removed links from its results voluntarily, but that wasn’t enough for Equustek who wanted broader action. In a ruling handed down in British Columbia, Justice L.A. Fenlon agreed, ordering Google to remove the infringing websites’ listings from its search results. Despite protestations from Google that any injunction should be limited to Canada and, the Judge targeted Google’s central database in the United States, meaning that the ruling has worldwide implications. “I note again that on the record before me, the injunction would compel Google to take steps in California or the state in which its search engine is controlled, and would not therefore direct that steps be taken around the world,†the Judge wrote. “That the effect of the injunction could reach beyond one state is a separate issue. Even an order mandating or enjoining conduct entirely within British Columbia may have such extraterritorial, or even worldwide effect.†Noting that Google did not complain that an order requiring it block the websites would “offend†the law in California where it is based, or any other country from where a search could be carried out, the Judge said that the search giant acknowledged that most countries would recognize that dealing in pirated products was “a legal wrong.†Further detailing her decision, Judge Fenlon compared Google to an innocent warehouse that had been forbidden from shipping out goods for a company subjected to an injunction. That local order not to ship could also have broader geographical implications. “Could it sensibly be argued that the Court could not grant the injunction because it would have effects worldwide? The impact of an injunction on strangers to the suit or the order itself is a valid consideration in deciding whether to exercise the Court’s jurisdiction to grant an injunction. It does not, however, affect the Court’s authority to make such an order,†she wrote. The Judge also touched on the futility of ordering a blockade of results only on, when users can simply switch to another variant. “For example, even if the defendants’ websites were blocked from searches conducted through, Canadian users can go to or and obtain results including the defendants’ websites. On the record before me it appears that to be effective, even within Canada, Google must block search results on all of its websites,†she explained. The nature of the ruling has raised concerns with lawyer Michael Geist, who notes that despite being issued by a local court, the ruling has attempted to match Google’s global reach. “The issues raised by the decision date back to the very beginning of the globalization of the Internet and the World Wide Web as many worried about jurisdictional over-reach with courts applying local laws to a global audience,†Geistexplains. “While there is much to be said for asserting jurisdiction over Google – if it does business in the jurisdiction, the law should apply – attempts to extend blocking orders to a global audience has very troubling implications that could lead to a run on court orders that target the company’s global search results.†While Google has a little under two weeks to comply with the injunction, its representatives told The Globe and Mail that the decision will be appealed.
  20. A myriad of countries already block The Pirate Bay and if the anti-piracy group representing Hollywood's interests in Norway have anything to do with it, their territory will be next. With local ISPS refusing to cooperate voluntarily, the big decision will become the responsibility of the Oslo District Court after a trial this summer. During the last quarter of 2013, anti-piracy group Rights Alliance (Rettighetsalliansen) announced that it had begun the planning for a Norwegian web blockade of copyright-infringing websites. First up, The Pirate Bay. Speaking with Norway’s Aftenposten, Rights Alliance chairman Willy Johansen now confirms that his group will file a case at the Oslo District Court within a few weeks with the aim of having the country’s ISPs block The Pirate Bay and other similar sites. Johansen says Rights Alliance has already written to the ISP Telenor with a list of sites it wants blocked. He wouldn’t reveal any other contents of the letter but as expected Telenor isn’t going to do anything voluntarily. “We can not act as a court or a police authority to act for third parties who want sites to be closed. We will only deal with a court decision,†Telenor’s Jørn Bremtun said in a statement. New legislation in Norwary does allow for the blocking of sites, but cases have to be taken to court in order to balance copyright protection with freedom of information. “When [the ISPs] will not block voluntarily, we must prove the illegality of the different sites,†Johansen said. Rights Alliance hope to do that during the summer with a decision from the Court expected in the fall.
  21. Yesterday news broke that the Australian government will soon consider the introduction of a graduated response style anti-piracy regime on top of court-ordered website blocking. Just 24 hours later and the PIrate Party are fighting back with a Senate petition opposing such measures and describing them as ineffective. us-ausSeeking to crack down on the rise and rise of online file-sharing, governments in countries all around the world continually come under US pressure to do something about infringement. Just a few days ago Vice President Joe Biden questioned how a country could consider itself “a law abiding nationâ€, “when they are stealing the most valuable intellectual ideas of our country.†Few civilized country’s escape the wrath of Biden and his friends in Hollywood and yesterday news broke that after continuous pressure from the studios, the Australian government will soon consider the introduction of two new anti-piracy mechanisms. The first, the graduated response, has been documented many times before and is already present in several countries. Site blocking is more controversial though, since despite being demanded by Hollywood abroad, the same is not practiced at home. Today the Australian Pirate Party says that it will do all it can to ensure that neither mechanism lands on Aussie soil. With the launch of a petition resting on the notion that neither technique has been shown to be effective against piracy, the Pirates hope to stop the juggernaut in its tracks. “There has been no evidence advanced that graduated response regimes are effective. In fact, academic literature on the matter has been skeptical that they have any measurable impact on reducing file-sharing,†Brendan Molloy, Councillor of Pirate Party Australia, told TorrentFreak in a statement. “Our petition is intended to remind the Senate of its obligations as the House of Review. It lays out detailed reasons for opposition to the proposals — including that neither will work — and calls on the Senate to reject any legislation instituting either a graduated response scheme or website blocking.†Research is available to back up the Party’s stance. A paper published in January 2014 by U.S. and French researchers found that three-strikes-style regimes did little to reduce piracy. Also in January, the Court of The Hague ruled that the web blockade previously ordered against The Pirate Bay was not only disproportionate, but also ineffective. Like many before him, Molloy says that something needs to be done about Australians being treated as second-class citizens when it comes availability and reasonable pricing of content. Dealing with these key areas will go somewhere towards solving the piracy conundrum. “Geographical market segmentation is causing Australians to pay more for digital content. Is it any wonder Australians are called ‘the world’s worst pirates’ when we are paying significantly more than everyone else? Surely these issues are more deserving of attention than attempting to introduce schemes that have been proven to be ineffective?†The Pirate Party petition can be found on
  22. A draft law that would have given the government in Mexico power to block the Internet and other communications has been forced into retreat. Fearing the proposed legislation could be abused by the authorities, this week hundreds of citizens took to the streets in protest. The government appears to have listened. dataAn attempt to introduce laws that would have given the Mexican government the power to block the Internet and other telecommunications appears to have failed. The government earlier said it wanted to introduce legislation to combat illegal activities on the Internet, including child pornography. But after drilling down into the details of the text, activists say that the draft law being debated by the Senate would allow the government to censor the Internet whenever it liked. One of the articles, which states that the government could force Internet service providers to “temporarily block, inhibit or annul telecommunications signals at events and places deemed critical for the public safety†sparked protests both on and offline, with hundreds taking to the streets on Tuesday. While the government insists that the measures are only intended for dealing with serious crime, activists are concerned that the proposals go too far, threatening both privacy and economic development. But by yesterday the tone of the government had changed, with Sen. Emilio Gamboa, leader of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in the Senate, announcing that the proposals would be scaled back. “Any other additional power, like the blocking of signals for national or public safety will be excluded from the reform,†Gamboa said. In attempt to calm the situation further, Gamboa added that new measures to force ISPs to hand over information on their subscribers would not be expanded.