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Swedish net firms hit out at “disastrous” web-block injunction

By | Published on Wednesday 15 February 2017

The Pirate Bay

Internet firms in Sweden have hit out at a court ruling that will allow a nice big web-block party to get underway in the country, with one going as far as to declare that the judgement in the country’s appeals court this week constitutes the “death throes of the copyright industry”. Which is rather dramatic.

As previously reported, Sweden’s Patent And Market Court Of Appeal has overturned the ruling of a lower court in the country and granted an injunction forcing local internet service provider Bredbandsbolaget to stop its users from accessing The Pirate Bay and another piracy site called Swefilmer.

It’s the first web-blocking injunction passed on copyright grounds in Sweden, although such web-blocks are already underway in a number of other European countries – not least the UK – and that fact was cited as one of the reasons why the Swedish courts should interpret the country’s copyright law to allow web-blocking there too.

ISPs generally don’t like anti-piracy measures that require their involvement, such as web-blocking, though they usually quietly comply once web-block injunctions become routine in any one country, as in the UK. But Bredbandsbolaget remained vocal in opposing the move to web-blocking in Sweden yesterday – despite not being offered any further route of appeal in the courts – while another Swedish net firm Bahnhof, which has a history of being confrontational with the anti-piracy brigade, was even more scathing.

According to Torrentfreak, Bredbandsbolaget said in a statement that it felt that this week’s ruling was not compliant with Swedish law, while adding that web-blocking wasn’t an effective way of combating piracy. It’s no secret that it’s relatively easy to circumvent any web-blocks, though rights owners still reckon that they are an effective way to education consumers, and to encourage them to use licensed content services instead of the illegal ones.

Said Bredbandsbolaget yesterday: “The Patent And Market Court Of Appeal has not taken into account the intention of the legislator with Swedish law. Our belief is that this type of blockage is not effective to prevent unlawful distribution of copyrighted work on the internet. Nor is it a good guarantee that creators will get paid for their works. Services must evolve and become more customer orientated”.

Meanwhile Bahnhof boss Jon Karlung said of the court ruling: “The entire industry is in shock. It is disastrous in so many ways, the judgment is a deathblow to a free and open internet. We are the postman and the postman does not read people’s mail, or take control over the content. [This ruling signals] the death throes of the copyright industry”.

Of course, web-blocking is now routine in the UK, with piracy sites regularly blocked, and it has to be said that the free and open internet hasn’t been noticeably killed here, nor have the copyright industries died. And, of course, as Karlung himself would no doubt point out, those who want to use their freedom on the open internet to nab other people’s content without paying for it can always circumvent the blockades.

This week’s injunction only covers Bredbandsbolaget and the two piracy sites specifically listed in the ruling, though it is expected that the Swedish music and movie industries will now seek similar injunctions against an assortment of ISPs and piracy sites.