Sony Music Says DNS Service Is Implicated In Copyright Infringement At The Domains It Resolves

from the first-they-came-for-the-resolvers dept

One of the characteristics of maximalist copyright companies is their limitless sense of entitlement. No matter how much copyright is extended, be it in duration, or breadth of application, they want it extended even more. No matter how harsh the measures designed to tackle copyright infringement, they want them made yet harsher. And no matter how distantly connected to an alleged copyright infringement a company or organization or person may be, they want even those bystanders punished.

A worrying example of this concerns Quad9, a free, recursive, anycast DNS platform (Cloudflare has technical details on what "recursive" means in this context). It is operated by the Quad9 Foundation, a Swiss public-benefit, not-for-profit organization, whose operational budget comes from sponsorships and donations. In other words, it's one of the good guys, trying to protect millions of users around the world from malware and phishing, and receiving nothing in return. But that's not how Sony Music GmbH sees it:

In June, Quad9 was served with a notice from the Hamburg Germany court (310 O 99/21) stating that Quad9 must stop resolving certain domain names that Sony Music GmbH believed were implicated in infringement on properties that Sony claims are covered by their copyrights. Quad9 has no relationship with any of the parties who were involved in distributing or linking to the content, and Quad9 acts as a standard DNS recursive resolver for users in Germany to resolve those names and others.

Sony Music is not alleging that Quad9 is infringing on copyright directly, but that its DNS service allows people to access a Web site that has links to material on a second Web site that infringes on copyrights. On this basis, the Hamburg Court has used Germany's law on indirect liability to order Quad9 to cease resolving the names of those sites. But as the Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte explains, there's a crazy twist here. Under German law:

[Internet] service providers who provide access to unlawful information or transmit such information are expressly no longer liable for damages or responsible for removal, nor can an injunction be granted against them. However, the Hamburg Regional Court assumes that Quad9 cannot invoke this liability privilege because it does not itself route the copyright-infringing information from A to B, but merely provides indirect access to it. This understanding of the law leads to the contradictory result that Quad9 is deemed liable for copyright infringements precisely because it has even less to do with the copyright infringements than Internet access providers, who are equally not involved in copyright infringements but at least do transmit the data in question.

Quad9's FAQ on the case points out that if allowed to stand:

this would set a dangerous precedent for all services used in retrieving web pages. Providers of browsers, operating systems or antivirus software could be held liable as interferers on the same grounds if they do not prevent the accessibility of copyright-infringing websites.

The past history of media companies suggest that, given such a capability, they would indeed go after all of these incidental operators, as part of an insane quest to put every aspect of the Internet at the service of copyright.

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Filed Under: copyright, dns, germany, infrastructure, recursive dns, resolving
Companies: quad9, sony music


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 12:29pm

    Never give a passerby directions to anywhere. You might be liable if they commit a crime or visit a location where crime takes place.

    Street signs and GPS and traffic routing apps are abetting criminal behavior!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 12:32pm

    In June, Quad9 was served with a notice from the Hamburg Germany court

    Can somebody explain how a German court can order a Swiss company to carry out the blocking. If that is accepted as reasonable, then the whole Internet ends up being subject to the desires of all the censorious regimes around the world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    MightyMetricBatman, 3 Sep 2021 @ 12:34pm

    Under this theory I would be a potential indirect infringer of their copyrights because I have hands and eyes that can operate a computer that can navigate to an infringing website.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 12:49pm

    They plan to file an appeal against the preliminary injunction in order to reverse it so hopefully it is reversed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Flakbait (profile), 3 Sep 2021 @ 1:18pm

    Next up: Power companies that create the electricity used by the dastardly infringing computers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 1:45pm

    Their ultimate goal of these companies is to be able to control the activities of every internet user on the planet, in the guise of "protecting creators" from "thieves".

    Copyright ruins (almost, the GPL is an exception) everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Rocky, 3 Sep 2021 @ 2:01pm

    The suit raises some interesting rabbit-hole questions. If the DNS record is cached somewhere else and a query is resolved there, does that also means there is an indirect liability for the owner of that DNS-server?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), 3 Sep 2021 @ 2:13pm

    Re:

    Copyright ruins (almost, the GPL is an exception) everything.

    Of course, if there were no copyright, the GPL would not work, nor would it be needed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Name, 3 Sep 2021 @ 2:39pm

    Man created the internet so all of mankind is guilty of infringement, but God created man so let's sue him!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re:

    The GPL prevents other people from using your code in proprietary programs. In doing so, it effectively forces developers to either license their code under the GPL (thereby making it available to anyone who wants a copy) or not use your code at all.

    If copyright did not exist, anyone could develop a closed-source program with open-source components, and nobody could do anything about it. And, since reverse engineering binaries is hard (even more so if this hypothetical developer decided to obfuscate their code), it would be difficult to notice any copying was taking place.

    This type of GPL violations do happen -- but they're illegal, and you'll be forced to release the entirety of your codebase if you get caught.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 3 Sep 2021 @ 2:43pm

    DNS as an encyclopedia

    Others have already addressed the absurdities of German courts, Swiss sites (err??) etc. Yup.

    DNS is a one-way client-server lookup of resource records (RRs). Typically it is a search for an IP address (A record) or IPv6 address (AAAA record) as a result of a text string "domain.name.goes.here."

    This is no different than an encyclopedia or a phone book, both of which have protection under US copyright laws. If a company chooses to publish one with records that reflect unlawful activity, that's a protected right in the US.

    Disclosure: I run DNS servers. Some have subdomains administered by clients who set their own lookup name and RRs. None will be taken down based on any action of any court. Lawyers will get richer, and stupid laws will be denied.

    Ehud

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Whoever, 3 Sep 2021 @ 3:51pm

    Swiss, you say, and not subject to US law?

    $ whois 9.9.9.9

    #

    ARIN WHOIS data and services are subject to the Terms of Use

    available at: https://www.arin.net/resources/registry/whois/tou/

    #

    If you see inaccuracies in the results, please report at

    https://www.arin.net/resources/registry/whois/inaccuracy_reporting/

    #

    Copyright 1997-2021, American Registry for Internet Numbers, Ltd.

    #

    NetRange: 9.9.9.0 - 9.9.9.255
    CIDR: 9.9.9.0/24
    NetName: CLEAN-97
    NetHandle: NET-9-9-9-0-1
    Parent: NET9 (NET-9-0-0-0-0)
    NetType: Direct Assignment
    OriginAS: AS19281
    Organization: Quad9 (CLEAN-97)
    RegDate: 2017-09-13
    Updated: 2020-05-22
    Ref: https://rdap.arin.net/registry/ip/9.9.9.0

    OrgName: Quad9
    OrgId: CLEAN-97
    Address: 1442 A Walnut Street, Suite 501
    City: Berkeley
    StateProv: CA
    PostalCode: 94709
    Country: US
    RegDate: 2017-09-07
    Updated: 2021-01-19
    Comment: https://quad9.net/
    Comment: Global Public Recursive DNS Resolver Service
    Ref: https://rdap.arin.net/registry/entity/CLEAN-97

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 5:06pm

    Six degrees of separation clause

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 5:22pm

    Maybe there's a treaty between the USA and Germany or the EU Re the ability to remove or block websites or domains that may host links to illegal or infringing content . If dns providers can be sued then almost any company or service could be sued if it provides a services to websites that link to illegal content Germany has laws that are different than most European country's in reference to copyright infringement

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Swiss, you say, and not subject to US law?

    no one said anything about US law, Mr. Leap Never Look.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 3 Sep 2021 @ 5:40pm

    Treaties about DNS servers

    Maybe there's a treaty

    No, there isn't. I'll try not to bore you with the history but DNS was originally handled by the US military, then the US DoC. They created IANA and ICANN to offload the oversight and stuff. Both IANA and ICANN quickly became money-grubbing add-nothings. Karl Auerbach has expounded on this much better than I could so I recommend reading his thoughts.

    At any rate

    • no treaties
    • all contract law as per registration "agreements" (look up "contract of adhesion" if you want to know your rights...)
    • failure to resolve and return a resource record is a no-no

    Ehud

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    GHB (profile), 3 Sep 2021 @ 5:54pm

    “malware”

    “trying to protect millions of users around the world from malware and phishing, and receiving nothing in return.”

    It reminds me of this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootkit_scandal Yes, the same company that used malware-esque tactics in the name of copyright enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Sep 2021 @ 7:51pm

    Can we get Sonys left hand to sue the right hand?

    If they didn't make content that could be pirated, then no one would pirate their content.

    They are causing this problem & we demand in injunction to stop them from continuing to release content that will indirectly cause more piracy.
    With this 1 injunction we could end all piracy against Sony and I see nothing wrong with this idea we shoudl execute it immediately.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 8:57pm

    Re:

    Sorry, but you showed them the map on your smartphone. You are already a suspect, having been in the geofenced area shortly before the crime occurred, and are recorded as having left at a high rate of speed (on the nearby highway, where those speeds are legal).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Sep 2021 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The GPL prevents other people from legally using your code in proprietary programs.

    FTFY. The difference is 3-15 years of litigation and money with enough digits to wrap your checkbook. But it would be keen if the GPL did have the superpower of physically preventing use in proprietary programs, wouldn't it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 3 Sep 2021 @ 9:46pm

    Frickin' hypocrites

    I'm sure Sony Music GmbH's own DNS servers resolve these "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad" addresses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 3 Sep 2021 @ 10:36pm

    GPL

    GPL enforcement and litigation is easily found so I'll leave it to the reader, so should he/she be inclined to do so.

    The GPL prevents other people from using your code in proprietary programs.

    No, that's not what the GPL does. The GPL provides specific licenses to allow use of the code. In almost all cases, providing you release the code or make it available, the GPL is a nonissue.

    Some companies use GPL code as part of their proprietary stuff without releasing the code. They get sued, and thus far have failed to win [like "lost" but with private settlements so hard to say] 100% of the time.

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 4 Sep 2021 @ 12:26am

    At the root of it all, it's therefore the copyrght holder who is to blame. For the only way to prevent content from being copied, is to never release it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2021 @ 1:49am

    Sony keeps reminding me why I don't buy their products any longer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    Ben (profile), 4 Sep 2021 @ 3:02am

    Re: DNS as an encyclopedia

    But this isn't a question of US copyright law. It's German law as applied extra-judiciously to a Swiss organisation. I know the US courts like to think this way too, but it's not right to apply US law outside the territorial US either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2021 @ 10:55am

    Guess they'll shit bricks if they DNS 127.0.0.1 too?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 4 Sep 2021 @ 11:44am

    127/8

    The whole /8 is the loopback interface (lo0 on some systems). It doesn't have to end in 0.0.1... just start with 127.

    Trivia (arcana?):
    1973 was a very different year than 2021. People did not have personal computers, phones did not communicate with towers, and IPv4 addresses would "never run out." Assigning a /8 to ARPA (Net-10), MILNET (Net-26), loopback (Net-127), and even MIT made a mint selling part of their "assigned and necessary" /8 of IPv4 addresses.
    https://www.networkworld.com/article/3191503/mit-selling-8-million-coveted-ipv4-addresses -amazon-a-buyer.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. icon
    n00bdragon (profile), 5 Sep 2021 @ 6:56am

    Re:

    the whole Internet ends up being subject to the desires of all the censorious regimes around the world.

    Yes,... and?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    Vikarti Anatra (profile), 5 Sep 2021 @ 10:09pm

    I think this is not enough.
    ARIN/RIPE/LANIC/AfriNIC should be sued because they provide IP addresses and ASN numbers to ISPs/Hosting Providers of those filthy infringers.
    Tim Berners Lee and CERN should be sued too (for creation of web and NOT implementing effective and mandatory copyright control).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2021 @ 3:44am

    Re: Re:

    What followed is what would be left after all censors have had their say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    TheDumberHalf, 7 Sep 2021 @ 9:00am

    New owners of IP addresses

    In 5 years, what happens to the new owner of an abandoned IP address or domain name? Do they get worthless real estate? What happens in 25 years when a good percentage of the internet is delisted? That's a lot of babies in that bathwater.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    TheDumberHalf, 7 Sep 2021 @ 9:03am

    Re:

    I'm sure a good number of Sony devices are being used to pirate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. icon
    Magnus (profile), 16 Nov 2021 @ 12:03am

    Free and safe music selection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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