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Web-blocking back in the Swedish courts

By | Published on Thursday 8 December 2016

Web Block

The music and movie industries are having another go at getting web-blocking underway in Sweden, hoping that a new specialist court might find in their favour this time.

As much previously reported, web-blocking, where internet service providers are forced to block their customers from accessing websites that rampantly infringe copyright – or facilitate copyright infringement – is a popular anti-piracy tactic of the entertainment industry. It has limited effect, because proxies quickly pop up via which people can still access blocked sites, though rights owners reckon it still performs a useful function, at least educating consumers as to which sites infringe copyright.

Whether web-blocks are an option depends on local copyright law. In some countries specific new laws have been passed to allow web-blocking, while in others – including the UK – the courts have decided blockades are possible under existing rules. Whenever web-blocking is being considered for the first time it proves controversial – with most ISPs objecting – though once underway in a country it usually quickly becomes the norm, and some net firms in those countries now back the anti-piracy tactic.

However, when the major record companies and reps for the film industry tried to get a web-block injunction against The Pirate Bay in Sweden last year, the District Court Of Stockholm sided with internet firm Bredbandsbolaget, which argued it had no obligation to block the infamous file-sharing site.

Now the music and movie outfits are having another go, taking the matter to the Patent And Market Court Of Appeal, a new IP-focused entity that sits within the Svea Court Of Appeal. Bredbandsbolaget continues to argue against the web-blocks, while the music and movie industries are again countering that the net firm should be obliged to put in place measures to reduce the amount of copyright infringement conducted over its network.