Swiss Supreme Court Refuses To Order ISPs To Block 'Pirate' Sites

from the silver-lining dept

Site-blocking is now officially a thing in many corners of the world, with rightsholders using the court system to restrict access to sites they complain are “pirate” sites. Between that practice and legislation being introduced by many countries in the full throes of regulatory capture, in which moneyed interests convince politicians to protect their own antiquated modes of business over the interests of the every day citizen, the censoring of the internet and the opening of wide avenues of potential abuse are in full swing.

But this isn’t the case everywhere. In Switzerland, for instance, some specifics in how that country operates have led its courts to do things differently. For one, Switzerland is not a member state of the EU, and so it is not bound by the same rules as most other European nations. In addition to that, Swiss copyright law is such that personal downloading or streaming of content, even if unauthorized, is not illegal. Both of those specifics came to a head when film company Praesens-Film asked the courts to order Swisscom, an ISP, to block what it said are pirate sites. The court refused. Praesens-Film decided to appeal the decision until it eventually reached the Swiss Supreme Court. That court, too, has now refused to order the blocking of pirate sites.

“In order for Swisscom to be obliged to block the Internet sites in question, it would need to be a participant in a copyright infringement by third parties, by making a legally relevant contribution to it. That’s not the case,” the Court wrote this week.

The Court agreed that the operators of the sites in question (and the companies making the movies available via hosting services) are breaking the law, but it refused to connect the ISP to those infringements.

“[S]wisscom can not be accused of making a concrete contribution to these copyright infringements. The activity of Swisscom is limited to offering access to the worldwide Internet,” the Court added. “The films are not [released by Swisscom] but released by third parties from unknown locations abroad. These Third parties are neither customers of Swisscom nor are they otherwise in a relationship with them.”

Frankly, this is as it should be. The job of the ISP is to provide internet service. It’s right there in the name. It is not the job of the ISP to play copyright police throughout the world and to restrict access to sites based on the claims of an entertainment industry that has showed itself to be wholly inept at determining what is a “pirate” site and what isn’t. While the court pointed out that legislators could go ahead and change copyright law in the country, the law as written wouldn’t justify this kind of censorship request.

The infringements in such cases are not only carried out by pirate sites, they’re also carried out by the customers of ISPs, who illegally stream or download copyrighted content to their home connections. In Switzerland, however, downloading or streaming content – even when that content is from an unlicensed source – is not illegal.

“[T]here is no copyright infringement on the part of the users,” the Court said. “Copyright law allows this use of published works for personal use, regardless of whether the source is lawful or unlawful. Legislators rejected the copyright revision, which would have prohibited the duplication of works from illegal sources for their own use.”

It would be nice if these versions of copyright laws could be exported throughout the world, if only to disrupt the gross censorship of the internet that has already begun and will only get worse now that that door has been cracked open. While the infringement of copyright sucks for the rightsholder, that pain doesn’t justify a tidal wave of site-blocking across a public that, by and large, doesn’t commit copyright infringement. It appears that understanding that personal downloading and/or streaming is not something worth addressing in the criminal code is at least one antidote to site-blocking.

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Comments on “Swiss Supreme Court Refuses To Order ISPs To Block 'Pirate' Sites”

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John Smith says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

More like I see people calling for riots and killing government officials, and like any good citizen, I report it. Once I do that, it’s out of my hands.

That some would resort to such extreme measures doesn’t help the protestors.

There’s a lot more concerning Masnick and some of those with whom he associates, but the MSM is already on that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Which didn’t happen in this article, but thanks for admitting to being such a wilful white knight ambulance chaser. I suppose something has to impress the girls after your mailing lists failed to bring them to the yard.

Shiva Ayyadurai’s defeat really tore a gaping hole in the void you call a heart, didn’t it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Having fun inventing your own facts?

You’re the one who claimed that pirates sell mailing lists to make bank, after yours got stolen so you couldn’t bring the guy who plagiarized books to justice because his name’s too big to be sued, so you spend your time trying to intimidate users on a sight you claim nobody reads and could never, ever influence national policy. Such as SOPA.

Inventing facts is how copyright enforcement gets anything done, including artists being too devastated to afford another solid gold Humvee thanks to all the dead grandmothers pirating their leaked sex tapes.

Shame for you judges are finding it harder to buy your brand of bullshit. Too much stench.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

"users on a sight?"

The value of a mailing list is universal, has very little to do with just me, and was noted to prove that even "noncommercial" piracy has clear commercial value (or they wouldn’t pay for the bandwidth duh).

Masnick’s influence will always be limited because he uses slanted language, writes like an eighth-grader, and allows harassment and defamation in his comments section. He has ties to some VERY questionable people that can be outlined at any time I or someone else chooses. He’s just such a pathetic gnat that he’s very low on the priority lists, except for those DEATH THREATS AGAINST PUBLIC OFFICIALS which appear on his site.

The same dozen or so names keep circling around his universe but there’s no depth beyond that. No real influence. Article 13 shows who has the real power and it really isn’t any of you.

Unlike the parasitic thieves who steal work, I have actual fans. One thing piracy has done is restored the patronage model. I have actual patrons too, something you may not have ever experienced. This frees me up to do a lot of things, all earned by my work.

All you have are anonymous rantings on a slime website. Some legacy. No wonder you lash out at me.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"The value of a mailing list is universal"

To spammers and scam artists like yourself, yes.

"Unlike the parasitic thieves who steal work, I have actual fans"

I very much doubt it.

"One thing piracy has done is restored the patronage model. I have actual patrons too"

Cool, so you found a way to stop pirates from affecting your income. Why, then, do you spend so much of your working day complaining on here rather than supporting your paying customers?

"All you have are anonymous rantings"

Coming from the guy who literally spends all day ranting anonymously here…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 So much self loathing

Jhon boy you are currently projecting so hard that we could use you to carve “I heart Shiva” into the moon for hamilton.

“All you have are anonymous rantings on a slime website. Some legacy”

This right here is caviar for people who like to watch idiots self-immolate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

So if Masnick’s influence is so little, why would death threats against officials – which anonymous commenters make, not the website – pose any danger?

You literally said that this is a small legacy of anonymous comments. Facebook doesn’t even investigate every instance of negative commentary levied at political figures.

You’re so desperate to fling shit you can’t even stay consistent within your own narrative, in the same post.

Send your SWATs, Jhon. We’ll be waiting.

Calling your bluff, sweetheart.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

That wishful thinking of yours is quite amusing.

Police don’t take multiple public death threats against government officials lightly. The recent mass shootings have caused them to take internet threats like that very seriously.

What they do with the info is up to them. They now have probable cause to investigate a host of things, not just those threats. That makes Masnick a liability to others.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Verbal aggression, cowardly bullying, and tantrums are your thing and that of others on the site, not mine."

Except every time someone confronts you with the fact that you’ve been lying through your teeth on one statement or other whereupon you throw a tantrum filled with ad hominem attacks and threatening everyone around here with the attention of your "friends in the FBI".

So on being a coward, a bully, and throwing tantrums at the drop of a hat you stand guilty as accused. But by all means keep projecting – it’s more or less all you’ve got left, Baghdad Bob.

John Smith says:

Well that’s a convenient global loophole, quite consistent with the Perfect 10 rulings in America.

Unlike some who can’t seem to get over an adverse ruling for their side, I don’t waste my energy with what I know government will deal with. I’ve already adjusted to a "post-copyright" world anyway, though this is obviously not the ruling I think should have been made. I wouldn’t be like Masnick, however, and resort to childish, slanted language to voice that.

Wonder if the WTO will get involved.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I love the way you can’t even keep your bullshit straight between comments. This comment:

"Article 13 will hopefully work as intended. Like piracy? Move to Switzerland."

Your comment one minute beforehand:

"Well at least you have this ruling to neutralize Article 13 so enjoy your victory."

So, is it neutralised or not?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You have to understand, the vote for the link tax just got called off.

Jhon Smith has to grieve because his Hollywood sugar daddy can’t tap that sweet Google advertising ass.

I might feel sorry for him if he wasn’t a scam artist trying to masquerade as a self-help book author.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Masnick is getting credited for allowing all this verbal abuse on his site.

Just shows what kind of person he is. Actually, he’s the ultimate coward because he lets others do his dirtywork for him.

That’s just his public face. Wait until people see the rest of his pathetic existence. This is just a symptom.

Wolfie0827 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

" Masnick is getting credited for allowing all this verbal abuse on his site.

Just shows what kind of person he is. Actually, he’s the ultimate coward because he lets others do his dirtywork for him.

That’s just his public face. Wait until people see the rest of his pathetic existence. This is just a symptom."

Says the one who "tells the LEO’s" and calls everyone a coward while hiding behind an anonymous tags. And if you are a self-help author then I am fu**ing GOD!

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Jhon is getting credited for posting all this verbal abuse on his site.

Just shows what kind of person he is. Actually, he’s the ultimate coward because he lets others do his dirtywork for him.

That’s just his public face. Wait until people see the rest of his pathetic existence. This is just a symptom.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You’re lucky I’m anonymous or you’d be sued for libel.

Nobodies who never create anything always hate on those who do.

In the real world, cowards like the AC don’t mouth off like that, and they dare don’t lie. This site is really all they have.

Masnick is really bush-league for allowing this. Perhaps one day his sponsors will get sick of it, or maybe a complaint to the FTC to unmask who his REAL gravy train is might be in order.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“You’re lucky I’m anonymous or you’d be sued for libel.”

Cool story you bro.

“You’re just lucky my friends are holding me back….”

High school bullies make better threats than you do.

“This site is really all they have.”

How many hours have you spent here today alone bro?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: it’s uncanny

Technically the case didn’t finish over a decade ago.

It might have stayed that way if not for the fact that Perfect 10 chose to double down, getting worse and worse judgements every time, and had their ass handed to them so much that Norman Zada’s definition of a graceful defeat was to transfer his assets to someone else. Just so he could avoid paying the fines the court asked of him, that law-abiding citizen.

Any surprise why Jhonny boy feels such a close kinship with this sort of bottom-scraping amoeba?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 it’s uncanny

Then why are you so worried about this website? Is it an insignificant trashpile that can’t affect anything or a major influence on tech policy that only you, a white knight upon a fiery steed, can take down for good? Because if you really thought the site was insignificant, you wouldn’t be trying so hard to destroy it.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 it’s uncanny

" Article 13 is a direct consequence of rulings like Perfect Ten."

So in other words since Perfect 10 got themselves smacked down by every judge in the land, we get…article 13, which has zip and nada to do with that set of lawsuits, not to mention, is on the wrong continent?

Unbelievable. That’s like claiming that because of apples, we now have a pope.

"There’s always the option of suing the individual infringers, of course, or jailing them."

They tried both twenty years ago and not only did it not work, the fallout of that was so bad the entire copyright cult backed off in a hurry. But hey, don’t let us stop you from advocating again and again that which was already proven to fail.

"Hollywood is much more powerful than this nothing website."

Because "this website" is, apparently, the grand centre of organized anti-copyright protest as opposed to, say, the multiple million citizens who cared enough to protest in person.
Oh, but of course Masnick regularly pays a few million people to swing placards in his name, amirite, Baghdad bob?

I said it before on TorrentFreak and I have to say it again here. There is no way a comedy act such as yours shouldn’t earn a nickle or two so why you don’t put out a hat and take your skit to the streets is beyond me.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 it’s uncanny

"Masnick will never be taken seriously as a journalist as long as he allows ridiculous levels of verbal abuse in his comments. It really says a lot about who he is."

Yeah, him not meaningfully banning your ass from puring vats of slander and marginalization on every topic you come across DOES undercut the meaning of his articles a bit.

Then again he may rightly be leery about not allowing anonymous posting. Freedom of speech by necessity means even incurable trolls and delusional liars like you do get a textbox to shit in, and worse, show everyone the result.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

"corporate sovereignty" .. lol

Some corporations think they should be above the law .. of all nations. This is clearly not a good way to go if you are not a corporation.

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