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Dutch court lifts “ineffectual” web-blocks

By | Published on Wednesday 29 January 2014

The Pirate Bay

The Dutch High Court has overturned a lower court order forcing two internet service providers in the country – XS4ALL and Ziggo – to block their users from accessing The Pirate Bay. Calling the blocks “ineffectual”, the court also stated that the blockades “constitute an infringement of [people’s] freedom to act at their discretion”.

As previously reported, whereas UK ISPs have, in the main, accepted web-blocks where instigated by court order, XS4ALL and Ziggo have been very vocal in their opposition of such anti-piracy tactics. So when a court case brought by anti-piracy group BREIN, though initially unsuccessful, did result in web-blocks against TPB being ordered by the Netherland’s lower court in 2012, the two ISPs appealed the case to the High Court at The Hague. And yesterday they won.

In a statement, XS4ALL said: “XS4ALL is relieved by the ruling. We are very pleased that the court of has protected the fundamental right of all Dutch citizens to freely access information”.

It added: “Like BREIN, we are against sharing copyrighted material without permission … [However,] XS4ALL believes in the potential of the internet. Unimpeded freedom to access the internet provides an unprecedented breeding ground for new possibilities and opportunities. For the entertainment industry, initiatives such as iTunes, Spotify and Netflix clearly show [the capacity for such possibilities]. The solution for downloading from illegal sources is not in the curtailment of freedom, but making the most of this freedom”.

In the UK, the film and music industries have successfully gained a long list of web-blocks against file-sharing websites, including The Pirate Bay. Critics of the web-block injunctions here would also argue that the blockades are ineffectual – because anyone with the slightest desire to access any of the blocked sites can still do so with little effort. However, the entertainment industry would likely counter that anything that makes it slightly more difficult or annoying to do so is a step towards convincing people to use easier-to-access legal services.