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.

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Companies: google, microsoft, snep

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Comments on “Paris Court Says Search Engines Don't Need To Block Torrent Searches”

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11 Comments
StillDontLikeNames says:

It's like paper, it's a medium not the content

Participated in a alpha/beta for a game a few years back. Participants used torrent to download the application. This was all during the alpha/beta phase. When the game launched they of course had actual servers.

Blocking the torrent protocol would have cost this game company money they needed for development.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: It's like paper, it's a medium not the content

Blizzard has actual servers, but torrenting is such an efficient way of distributing file data that they use (or at least used to use) the torrent protocol to distribute their games and patches. D&D online uses torrents as well. Just because you don’t use BitTorrent to download it doesn’t mean on the back-end they aren’t using the torrent protocol.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's like paper, it's a medium not the content

Plus, most Linux distributions have a torrent option, and a great many other developers do use the protocol as an easy way to get their data to their users.

This is why the whining about torrents has always been weak. It’s a file transfer protocol built to efficiently transfer large files, nothing more or less. Just because some people can’t tell that it’s not just for piracy, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have legitimate uses. It certainly doesn’t mean that throttling or blocking torrents will either stop piracy nor have zero negative side effects.

In fact, this argument has always been a great litmus test for bias. If you confront an anti-torrent type with the fact that many people use torrents to reduce bandwidth costs and make their businesses feasible, the answer you get will either be denial (i.e. they’re ignorant of this truth) or dismissal (that company’s bottom line doesn’t matter, because larger corporations might be losing money through piracy). The ignorance might be easy to overcome, but the hypocrisy is stating that torrents need to be blocked to save one type of company, even though doing so would kill another, is always rather telling and difficult to change (you can’t change a man’s mind if he paycheck depends on the status quo, etc)..

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