Court Lifts Overbroad “Piracy” Blockade of Mega and Other Sites

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Mega and several other file-hosting services are accessible in Italy once again after a negotiated settlement with local law enforcement. Another unnamed site had to appeal its blockade in court but won its case after the court ruled that partial blocking of a specific URL is preferred over site-wide bans.

megaLast July the Court of Rome ordered all local Internet providers to block 24 websites including Mega.co.nz and Russia’s largest email provider Mail.ru.

The broad anti-piracy measures were requested by small independent Italian movie distributor Eyemoon Pictures. The company complained that the sites in question distributed two films, “The Congress” and “Fruitvale Station,” before they were released in Italian cinemas.

Several sites affected by the blockade decided to appeal the order, and not without success. Fulvio Sarzana, who acts as lawyer for several of the accused sites including Mega, told TorrentFreak that the sites in question can now be accessed again.

The lawyer took up the case with the local Prosecutor, and pointed out that the blockades are overbroad. Instead of blocking access to a single file it makes entire sites unreachable.

In addition, Sarzana noted that the measures are not needed as the file-hosting sites have strict takedown policies in place which allow copyright holders to remove infringing content.

The Prosecutor was receptive to these arguments and after a settlement agreement with several of the affected services was reached last month, local ISPs were ordered to lift the blockades.

“For Mega we negotiated a court settlement with the Office of the Prosecutor of Rome, which recognized the legitimacy of Mega’s activities and ordered the removal of the blockade. The same is the case for other hosting services,” Sarzana tells TorrentFreak.

For another site, which prefers not to be named, it was necessary to take the case to the Appeals Court. In common with a similar case earlier this year, the Court held that the blocking order was indeed too broad. As a result this blockade was also lifted.

“The Court held that the ISP blockade of the website was disproportionate because the copyright infringement occurs on individual pages. The entire website can therefore not be blocked for copyright reasons,” Sarzana notes.

The lawyer expects that the Appeals Court ruling will have implications for the Communications Regulatory Authority (AGCOM), which currently has the power to block allegedly infringing sites without a court order.

Considering the recent Appeals Court decision, this procedure may be unconstitutional. This possibility has also been raised by several consumer groups who have asked the court to review AGCOM’s legitimacy.

Last week the Court of Rome referred these complaints to the Constitutional Court. Here it will be examined whether the current procedure violates right to freedom of expression and free speech, among other things.

To be continued.

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