Major Streaming Sites Must Be Blocked, Court Rules

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After a prolonged legal battle, last year several leading Austrian ISPs were ordered to block major streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. All but one of the ISPs appealed but now the Supreme Court has not only ruled against them, but ordered them to pick up the cost of blocking sites in the future.

In 2014 the European Court of Justice handed down a widely publicized decision which made clear that, in reasonable circumstances, pirate sites can be blocked by European ISPs.

On the back of this ruling, Austrian anti-piracy outfit VAP wrote to several local ISPs (UPC, 3, Tele2 and A1) demanding blockades of streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. This would become the local test case on which all future site blockades would be built.

After the ISPs rejected their request, in August 2014 VAP sued the providers. In October VAP emerged victorious and the ISPs were ordered to implement a blockade.

While ISP UPC accepted the decision, Tele2, A1 and 3 filed a further appeal and the case went to the Supreme Court. Now the court has handed down its decision and it’s yet another defeat for the ISPs.

Affirming the earlier ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that blocking websites in Austria is entirely legal. Furthermore, the court also confirmed that the Internet Service Providers will have to bear the costs of blocking the sites, informing them that their business model should allow them to be “financially and technically equipped” to implement blockades.

VAP President Winfred Kunze welcomed the decision.

“Illegal portals do not contribute to film financing and do harm to creators. Legal services strengthen both the creative industry and the telecommunications industry, which indeed benefit from the attractiveness of a legal offer,” Kunze said.

According to Futurezone, the Association of Austrian Internet Providers (ISPA), is less enthusiastic about the outcome, in particular concerning costs and the “slippery slope” potential of web-blocking.

“Today Internet locks, tomorrow …,” the group concludes.

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