Court Orders ISPs to Unblock “Pirate” Site

The Court of Appeals in Rome, Italy, has recalled a blocking order against the video streaming site Filmakerz.org, arguing that it was too broad. In its order the Court specified that partial blocking of a specific URL is preferred over site-wide bans, and that copyright-infringing sites must have a for-profit angle.

filmakerzLast month the Public Prosecutor of Rome ordered Italian Internet providers to block access to 46 torrent, streaming and other file-sharing portals.

The crackdown was the largest enforcement action against copyright-infringing sites in Italy, and local authorities hinted that it wouldn’t be the last.

One of the sites affected by the blockades was Filmakerz.org, a video streaming portal that offers a variety of movies and TV-shows for free. Mainly popular among Italians, the site’s traffic plummeted as a result of the ban.

But while most blocked sites are quick to throw in the towel, Filmakerz.org decided to appeal the case, with success. This week the Court of Appeals overturned the blocking order against the site, ruling that it was too broad.

The panel of judges clarified that each blocking request should specify under what exact URLs copyrighted works are being infringed, instead of submitting a single domain name. Without the exact location of the infringing content, the court can’t verify the validity of the blocking request.

According to Fulvio Sarzana, the lawyer who represented Filmakerz.org, the ruling is a clear blow against the increasing censorship efforts in Italy. Sarzana says that the court specified two important ground rules.

“The first is that the Public Prosecutor must prove the existence of a for-profit motivation to get the blocking order,” the lawyer tells TF.

“The second is that parts of the site that contain legitimate content must not affected. This means that a partial seizure of an individual URL is preferred over the seizure of the entire site,” Sarzana adds.

The ruling comes at a crucial time, a few days after Italy’s independent Electronic Communications Authority (AGCOM) implemented new regulations that would allow foreign sites to be blocked more easily.

“The verdict is important because it shows that the order to block a site should be carefully decided, and is also important in the light of AGCOM rules,” Sarzana told us, adding that the regulation to block entire domains contradicts with European and Italian jurisprudence.

Following the Court of Appeals verdict, local ISPs have been instructed to unblock Filmakerz.org, which is expected to be accessible again soon. It is unclear whether any of the other blocked sites also plan to appeal the blockade, but with the appeal decision in Filmakerz’s favor it might be worth a shot.

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