Austrian ISPs Sued For Actually Wanting A Court Order Rather Than Just Blocking Websites Based On Entertainment Industry's Requests
from the due-process-means-something dept
For years now, the entertainment industry’s dream is that it should be able to point to certain websites and say “bad website” and have the rest of the world make that website disappear. The fact that the industry has a dreadful history of falsely accusing perfectly legitimate sites as infringing, leading to bogus takedowns that are destroying perfectly legitimate businesses, either by shutting them down without any evidence, or involving them in extended legal battles, apparently never enters the equation. The entertainment industry still insists that when it points to a site and says “bad” that the site should immediately be forced to disappear.
Furthermore, the industry seems to believe that everyone else has a legal responsibility to carry out its wishes once it declares a site as bad. It thinks hosts should take down sites, search engines should stop linking to them, advertisers should block ads, registrars should pull domain names and ISPs should block access. You’d think that maybe actually adapting to new technologies and giving people more of what they want might be a more compelling strategy, but the legacy entertainment industry prefers demanding that everyone else go out of their way to protect the legacy industry’s obsolete business model, without the industry itself doing anything more than pointing at sites (often incorrectly).
The latest battle ground for this appears to be in Austria, where an “anti-piracy” group representing the movie industry, VAP, has sued four local ISPs (UPC, Drei, Tele2 and A1) for failing to block access to two sites based entirely on VAP’s say so. That is, there is no court case or court order saying that the ISPs need to block Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. It’s entirely VAP saying so (it also asked for the ISPs to block The Pirate Bay, but for some reason left that one out of the eventual lawsuit). When the ISPs quite reasonably said, “Uh, where’s the court order?” rather than go to court against the sites in question, VAP sued the ISPs. That seems tremendously questionable.
Either way, it appears that IFPI is jumping in on the action too. You may recall just a few weeks ago the head of the IFPI in Austria, Franz Medwenitsch, foreshadowed this move by claiming that it’s not censorship to block sites that he, personally, doesn’t like. It’s only censorship when you block sites he likes, you see? And he doesn’t like The Pirate Bay. So, he’s going to sue ISPs to block it and other sites as well.
The idea that entire websites should be completely inaccessible based entirely on the say so of a particular industry (with a very long history of attacking any new innovation) seems immensely worrisome if you believe in an open internet or basic principles of innovation. Giving the legacy film or music industry a “veto” on innovation merely by declaring a site “rogue” is a very dangerous idea. The ISPs are right to stand up and demand more than just those industry groups’ say so, and hopefully courts will agree.