ISP Categorically Refuses to Block Pirate Bay – Trial Set For October


Following a hearing last month during which agreement was sought between entertainment companies and Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget, the provider has confirmed there will be no compromise. The ISP will not block The Pirate Bay and insists that customers have the right to communicate freely online. A trial is now set for October. Despite its current difficulties in maintaining an efficient online presence, The Pirate Bay remains the world’s most hounded website. Entertainment industry companies around the globe have made the notorious site their number one anti-piracy target and legal action continues in many regions.

France can now block suspected terrorism websites without a court order


A new decree that went into effect today allows the French government to block websites accused of promoting terrorism and publishing child pornography, without seeking a court order. Under the new rules, published last week by France’s Ministry of the Interior, internet service providers (ISPs) must take down offending websites within 24 hours of receiving a government order. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says the decree is critical to combatting terrorism, but civil rights groups say it gives the government dangerously broad powers to suppress free speech. The regulations have been under consideration since 2011, but gained new momentum following last month’s terrorist attacks at the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The French government has launched a massive anti-terror campaign in the wake of the attacks, countering radical online propaganda with its own anti-jihad website and arresting dozens of suspected terrorism supporters.

Appeal court tears up Pirate Bay ban for Ziggo, XS4ALL


Internet providers Ziggo and XS4ALL no longer have to impose a blockade on file sharing website The Pirate Bay, appeal court judges in The Hague said on Tuesday. The court said research by scientific institute TNO showed the ban, imposed in 2012, had not led to fewer copyright infringements because former users have moved on to other torrent or proxy sites to download material illegally. And the arguments used by the Stichting Brein group, which acts on behalf of copyright holders, was ‘highly speculative’, the court said. While some people had stopped downloading copyrighted material, Stichting Brein had not been able to show they were responsible for more than a minor part of the damage, the court said. The fact that the Pirate Bay showed copyrighted dvd and cd covers on its website was not sufficient to justify blocking the service, the court said.

Calls for ISPs to filter content could be illegal, EU council documents suggest


Last week justice ministers from across the European Union called on ISPs to conduct voluntary censorship of online content—but documents in preparation for a meeting of telecoms ministers suggest such a move could be illegal. The documents, prepared by the Latvian presidency of the Council of the EU, note that calls to allow Internet service providers to block or filter content in the “public interest” as part of a proposed net neutrality law could violate privacy laws that protect the confidentiality of communication. The Council, along with the Commission and the Parliament, is one of the EU’s three lawmaking bodies. The member states take turns as president of the council: Latvia took over from Italy for its six-month stint on Jan. 1.

Russia to Block Piracy Websites Permanently After One Copyright Violation


Starting next May, websites guilty of more than one copyright violation will be permanently blocked in the country. The move comes as part of a new anti-piracy bill signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, ramping up what many critics see as an already draconian set of copyright protection rules. Once a website is blocked by a court decision, it cannot be unblocked, according to the bill. The first version of the anti-piracy bill was passed last year despite outcry from Internet companies and online freedom activists who said it was biased toward copyright holders. The bill provided for the extrajudicial blocking of websites simply suspected of copyright violations.

Music publishers finally pull the trigger, sue an ISP over piracy


BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music have sued Cox Communications for copyright infringement, arguing that the Internet service provider doesn’t do enough to punish those who download music illegally. Both BMG and Round Hill are clients of Rightscorp, a copyright enforcement agent whose business is based on threatening ISPs with a high-stakes lawsuit if they don’t forward settlement notices to users that Rightscorp believes are “repeat infringers” of copyright. There’s little precedent for a lawsuit trying to hold an ISP responsible for users engaged in piracy. If a judge finds Cox liable for the actions of users on its network, it will have major implications for the company and the whole cable industry. It’s one thing to terminate an account on YouTube, but cable subscribers can pay well over $100 per month—and BMG and Round Hill claim that they’ve notified Cox about 200,000 repeat infringers on its network.

UK Piracy Blocklist Expands


The list of websites that are blocked in the UK for facilitating copyright infringement is getting longer and longer.This week a new High Court ruling orders Sky, BT, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, Telefonica UK and Virgin to block access to 32 piracy related sites. The newly blocked sites include Demonoid, Watchseries, IPTorrents, TorrentDay, IceFilms, Rarbg and have millions of visitors a day combined. BT already started adding the new sites to its blocklist yesterday, which caused some confusion among subscribers. The other ISPs are expected to follow suit within the days to come. This is the first time that private torrent sites are blocked in the UK.

Counterfeit Goods: Has the War on ISPs Just Gotten Tougher?


The pressure on ISPs to take responsibility for the sites accessible through their services has been growing in recent years (e.g., the requirement for certain ISPs to block filesharing sites). On October 17, 2014, the High Court of England and Wales took this one step further by granting a website-blocking order against certain ISPs in a case involving counterfeit goods. This case is notable for the fact that the infringement related to trademarks and not copyright. While English copyright law has aprovision under which blocking injunctions may be sought, there is no statutory equivalent under trademark law, yet an injunction was still granted. Has the war on ISPs just gotten tougher?

The internet is a politically and culturally loaded tool, particularly when it comes to censorship

By David Meyer

As someone with a deep interest in technology and its effects on society, recent events relating to the internet – specifically, to web censorship – have left me perplexed. Two different situations — the deletion of certain search links in Europe, and Vladimir Putin’s setting-up of the Russian internet for further censorship — have elements in common that cannot be denied. Yet I see the former as acceptable in theory and the latter as unacceptable in both theory and practice, and as such I view the nature of the internet differently in either case. It’s the same internet, of course, and therein lies the quandary. That quandary ultimately comes down to the ability of countries and regions to maintain their own characters and social systems in the context of a network that is, like it or not, steeped in a specific set of values.

Filtering in the UK: The hinterland of legality, where secrecy trumps court rulings

By Ian Dunt
Index on Censorship

James Brokenshire was giving an interview to the Financial Times last month about his role in the government’s online counter-extremism programme. Ministers are trying to figure out how to block content that’s illegal in the UK but hosted overseas. For a while the interview stayed on course. There was “more work to do” negotiating with internet service providers (ISPs), he said. And then, quite  suddenly, he let the cat out the bag. The internet firms would have to deal with “material that may not be illegal but certainly is unsavoury”, he said.