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Danish courts block stream-ripping site despite it employing the “but we don’t copy anything” defence

By | Published on Monday 27 April 2020

A stream-ripping site called has been unsuccessful in a bid to stop its service from being blocked by internet service providers in Denmark. The courts there ruled that made infringing content available – and helped communicate that content to the public – and in doing so was liable for copyright infringement.

Stream-ripping, of course, has been a top piracy gripe of the music industry for several years now. These are the websites and apps that allow people to grab permanent downloads of content that is streaming on websites like YouTube, Facebook and SoundCloud.

In some cases record companies have actually gone legal against the stream-ripping sites – or, at least, threatened to go legal – usually resulting in targeted services going offline. In other cases the music industry simply seeks to have stream-ripping sites blocked by ISPs, albeit only in those countries were web-blocks of that kind are currently available as an anti-piracy tool.

Whenever the music industry seeks web-blocks, it’s mainly the labels and the ISPs that are involved in the legal proceedings. Targeted sites will be alerted to those proceedings, where contacts for said sites can be found, but they very rarely respond. This means web-blocks are applied without the blocked sites presenting any case to the court.

However, when Danish anti-piracy group Rights Alliance sought a web-block against, its operator – John Nader – decided to fight the blockade in court

While his decision to fight the blockade was unusual, his legal arguments were not. He presented the defence commonly employed in piracy cases, which is that – while his technology facilitates the unlicensed ripping of copyright protected audio or video from a streaming site – his platform doesn’t actually get involved in the copying of any files or store any of the copied content.

This argument has been used since the early days of file-sharing. There are two ways copyright owners can counter it. First, by trying to hold the technology provider liable for so called contributory or authorising infringement. Which is where you have an entity which, although not directly involved in the infringing activity, facilitates the infringement process.

Secondly, you can try to argue that while the file-sharing or stream-ripping tool doesn’t get involved in the copying of any content, it is nevertheless making that content available and/or communicating that content to the public. And the act of making content available or communicating content to the public is also protected by the copyright.

It was on the latter basis that the Danish courts rejected Nader’s defence, ruling his website did indeed infringe copyright and therefore there were grounds to block it.

According to Torrentfreak, the court said in a recent judgement: “The court finds that, by means of the method described, in breach of the exclusive rights held by the holder, is making protected works available to a new public by means of a new technical method whereby they are communicated to the public. The court also finds that, via its mode of operation, plays an essential role in the communication of protected works”.

As part of the case, Google gave testimony in favour of the copyright owners, explaining how ripping content from YouTube violates its terms of service and discussing the technical measures it takes to try and stop it. The judge also cited that testimony in the ruling.

All of which means is now blocked in Denmark.