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Movie companies in US web-block case hit out at Cloudflare

By | Published on Friday 10 June 2022


The group of Israeli movie and media companies that recently secured an injunction in the US ordering internet companies to block and/or cut off piracy sites, and have returned to court claiming that Cloudflare is not complying with that order.

The legal battle against, and was particularly interesting because – as well as finding those sites liable for copyright infringement – the judge overseeing the case also issued a very wide injunction seeking to block and cut off the three sites.

That included ordering internet service providers in the US to block their customers from accessing the three piracy services. Web-blocking orders of that kind on copyright grounds are now quite routine in some countries, but not the US, where the principle of web-blocking has proven controversial in the past.

So much so, the ruling in this case seemed to set something of a precedent in US law, suggesting web-blocking was now an anti-piracy tactic available to music, movie and media companies Stateside. Although, also interestingly, the movie and media companies in this case have so far not sought to enforce that part of the ruling, even asking the judge to stay the web-blocking order.

However, they are enforcing the elements of the ruling that ordered various internet companies to stop providing services to the three sites. And that includes Cloudflare, and entirely legitimate internet services business that has been frequently criticised by copyright owners for not doing enough to deal with copyright infringers among its customer base.

Although, in the main, while Cloudflare resists cutting off or penalising its customers on the say so of copyright owners, it does usually comply with any court orders secured by music, movie or media companies against copyright infringers that use its services.

However, claim these Israeli movie and media companies, that’s not happening here. In a new legal filing this week, they say that a user linked to has had a Cloudflare account since 2016 and that account is still active despite the court order. The plaintiffs add that, since securing the injunction, they have sent emails to various Cloudflare email addresses that are meant to deal with abuse claims, all advising the internet firm of that injunction. But so far there has been no response.

Not only that, but “as recently as 22 May 2022, five additional domains associated with the infringing website were created and opened accounts with Cloudflare. Thus, despite being served with the order over a month ago, Cloudflare failed to comply therewith. Cloudflare is still providing services that enable defendants’ infringing website to operate and permitted a user (or users) to establish at least five new accounts that configured the website to use Cloudflare’s services through new domains”.

With all that in mind, the plaintiffs want the court to hold Cloudflare in contempt, to direct it to comply with the order, and to to award the movie and media companies “attorneys’ fees and costs of this motion in an amount to be determined” and “such other relief as the court deems just and reasonable”.

We await to see how Cloudflare now responds.