Ger­man court says ISPs may have to block mu­sic-shar­ing sites

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

FRANK­FURT: Ger­many’s high­est court said In­ter­net ser­vice providers could be made re­spon­si­ble for block­ing web­sites offering il­le­gal mu­sic down­loads, but only if copyright hold­ers showed they had first made rea­son­able at­tempts to thwart such piracy by other means.

The fed­eral Supreme Court dis­missed two cases brought by mu­sic rights so­ci­ety GEMA against Deutsche Telekom and mu­sic com­pa­nies Univer­sal Mu­sic, Sony and Warner Mu­sic Group against Tele­fon­ica’s O2 Deutsch­land.

It said on Thurs­day the plain­tiffs did not make enough ef­fort to halt the copyright vi­o­la­tions in the first place but it said In­ter­net ser­vice providers could in prin­ci­ple be held re­spon­si­ble for block­ing mu­sic il­le­gally avail­able on the In­ter­net, even if the con­tent re­mained avail­able else­where.

GEMA, which acts to pro­tect the rights of the own­ers of mu­si­cal works, had de­manded that Deutsche Telekom, Ger­many’s largest tele­coms com­pany, block the web­site “” be­cause it of­fered ac­cess to copyright-pro­tected mu­sic.

In a sep­a­rate case, the mu­sic com­pa­nies wanted O2 Deutsch­land to block ac­cess to “gold­e­,” part of the eDon­key net­work, a peer-to-peer file-shar­ing net­work for mu­sic.

The court said in its rul­ing: “The com­pany that of­fers In­ter­net ac­cess will only be held re­spon­si­ble for block­ing the site when the copyright holder has first made rea­son­able ef­forts to take ac­tion against those who have them­selves in­fringed their rights, like the web­site op­er­a­tors, or those who have en­abled the in­fringe­ment, like the Web host­ing providers.”

The mu­sic in­dus­try says it loses bil­lions of dol­lars ev­ery year from the il­le­gal down­load­ing of songs, de­priv­ing it of the rev­enue it needs to pay song­writ­ers, artists and tal­ent scouts.

Courts around the world are grap­pling with the ques­tion of who is re­spon­si­ble for copyright in­fringe­ment through il­le­gal down­loads. Google’s YouTube, for ex­am­ple, has been the sub­ject of mul­ti­ple court cases.

A Ger­man court ruled in July that YouTube was only re­spon­si­ble for block­ing copyright-in­fring­ing videos when they had been brought to its at­ten­tion, and could not be ex­pected to scan ev­ery­thing on the site. —Reuters

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