THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE is deciding whether it is right that an internet service provider (ISP) can be told to block access to a website suspected of playing host to pirated content.
It is due to vote on this soon, and in the meantime ECJ Advocate General Cruz Villalón, a member of the court, said that the ban mechanism was a likely one, but added that it must also be managed and proportionate.
Prompting the announcement was an approach on the Austrian ISP UPC Telekabel Wien from film outfits Constantin Film Verleih and Wega Filmproduktionsgesellschaft.
They wanted a site called Kino dammed off, and their case was knocked up to the ECJ from the Austrian authorities. According to Advocate General (AG) Cruz Villalón, they should get their way.
"[The Advocate General] Takes the view that the internet provider of the user of a website which infringes copyright is also to be regarded as an intermediary whose services are used by a third party - that is the operator of the website - to infringe copyright and therefore also as a person against whom an injunction can be granted," it said in its statement.
"That is apparent from the wording, context, spirit and purpose of the provision of EU law."
The AG said that in some instances it would be just fine for a media company to go direct to an ISP and ask for a shutdown, but added in others a court ruling should be involved.
In the UK ISPs will block access to piracy sites, but only once a court has ordered them to do so. Apparently, and judging by recent evidence, there are a lot of court orders, and they are all adhered to.
A cyber hammer fell on some 20 sites in mid-October and already in November we have seen a handful shut down. µ