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Austrian Supreme Court backs web-blocking

By | Published on Wednesday 15 November 2017


Hey Austria, how you doing, welcome to the web-block party. What took you so long? I’m afraid we’ve already eaten all the pizza, but there’s still some slightly stale garlic bread on top of the piano.

So, yes, Austria has joined the web-block party, with internet service providers in the country being forced to block their users from accessing the big bad Pirate Bay, and some other piracy sites too. This follows a ruling in the Austrian Supreme Court.

Those of you paying particularly good attention might remember Austria rocking up at this here web-block party once before, in 2015. And you’d be right to remember that. But it was ejected in 2016 when an earlier web-block injunction against TPB was overturned on appeal at the Vienna Higher Regional Court, following objections from the tech sector.

However, the local music industry, which had initially secured the web-blocks in 2015, vowed to appeal the appeal. And now the Austrian Supreme Court has ruled in its favour. In part citing recent rulings in the European courts over web-blocking squabbles in the Netherlands, another country where the net firms decided to fight the popular anti-piracy tactic, rather than just moaning for a while and then getting on with quietly blocking a bunch of sites.

Music and movie companies now regularly seek web-block injunctions in numerous countries where local copyright laws provide for such things, and we can probably expect rights owners to now seek additional blockades in Austria.

Of course, web-blocking is by no means a perfect anti-piracy measure – it’s usually pretty easy to circumvent the blockades – but the entertainment industry insists that it is nevertheless a useful tool as part of its wider anti-piracy efforts.