Paris Court Says Search Engines Don't Need To Block Torrent Searches
from the good-ruling dept
Copyright rulings in France have occasionally been a complete disaster in the past, so it’s nice to see the High Court of Paris recognize that Google and Microsoft cannot be forced to block any searches that include the word “torrent.” The two separate lawsuits were brought by SNEP, which could be seen as the French version of the RIAA. The organization argued that since the law allowed “all appropriate measures” to be used to block infringement, it could demand that search engines block any searches that include the word torrent. The court wasn’t buying it, noting correctly that not all torrents are infringing, and such a rule would be way too broad:
?SNEP?s requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration for identifying or even determining the site?s content, on the premise that the term ?Torrent? is necessarily associated with infringing content,? the Court writes in its order.
More specifically, the court notes that the word ?torrent? has many legitimate uses, as does the BitTorrent protocol, which is a neutral communication technology. This means that blocking everything ?torrent? related is likely to censor legal content as well.
?Yet [torrent] is primarily a common noun, with a meaning in French and in English; it also refers to a neutral communication protocol developed by the company Bittorrent that enables access to lawfully downloaded files.
?The requested measures are thus tantamount to general monitoring and may block access to lawful websites,? the High Court order adds.
That was in the ruling in the case against Microsoft. In the case against Google, SNEP lost on more of a procedural technicality. Google pointed out that SNEP brought the case in the name of just three artists, rather than itself, and the court more or less agreed that SNEP couldn’t bring a case on behalf of just those artists. Still, the clear ruling on the Microsoft case suggests that SNEP wouldn’t have had any more luck against Google if it had filed the case in the correct procedural way.