With the phenomenon spreading around the world, the blocking of ‘pirate’ websites is emerging as a key anti-piracy strategy of the entertainment industries.
Europe has been a key battleground for the movement and if rightsholders have their way, yet another new regional country will implement blocks soon.
The current action involves German performance rights organization GEMA. Known for its aggressive anti-piracy stance, GEMA’s case dates back seven years when it found music tracks on major file-hosting sites (Rapidshare, Netload, Uploaded) being distributed via a links site known as 3DL.am. Since it couldn’t contact 3DL’s operators to deal with the infringement, GEMA expanded its fight elsewhere.
In a subsequent complaint, GEMA demanded that in order to reduce further copyright infringement, leading German ISP Deutsche Telekom should take technical steps to stop its customers from accessing 3DL.am.
The ISP refused, stating that as a mere ‘dumb pipe’ it has nothing to do with the infringement on the site. Furthermore, blocking one site would simply lead to increasing numbers of similar demands, the ISP argued.
In 2013 the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg rejected GEMA’s case on the basis that Deutsche Telekom is not the direct host of 3DL.am (now 3DL.tv). A subsequent appeal was also dismissed. However, persistence from the rights organization means that the case is now being heard by Germany’s Supreme Court.
Oliver Süme from Eco.de, the Association of the German Internet Industry, believes that GEMA’s efforts are destined to fail.
“The legal situation thus far is that [consumer ISPs] are not liable for infringements on the Internet. It is therefore pointless to impose on the providers the role of an auxiliary police force,” Süme says.
“Furthermore, the required technical measures to control and filter the traffic of Internet users violates telecommunications secrecy and data protection laws that we have fought in favor of for years.”
The Supreme Court says that a decision on the case will be handed down in November. In the meantime, 3DL continues business as normal.