US film companies persuade VPN and server hosting companies to create web blocks
Business News Digital Legal
By Chris Cooke | Posted on Wednesday, October 13, 2021
The consortium of independent American film producers who have followed the lead of the music industry in seeking to hold American internet companies accountable for infringing the copyrights of their users has reached some interesting deals in recent weeks. . Two targeted internet companies voluntarily agreed to perform some web blocking, although such blocks were not generally available to copyright owners in the United States.
Film companies – many of which are linked to Millennium Media – have targeted numerous internet companies with litigation. Many of these lawsuits mirror the lawsuit brought by BMG – then the majors – against various US Internet service providers.
While Internet businesses can bypass liability for copyright infringement that occurs on their networks due to the Safe Harbor of copyright, there are a number of tasks they must perform in order to benefit from Safe Harbor protection. . BMG successfully argued that an ISP – Cox Communications – failed to meet its obligation to put in place an effective system to deal with repeat offenders, and therefore was not protected by a shelter, and was therefore responsible for l infringement of its users.
The majors then also sued Cox and various other ISPs on the basis of the same argument, namely that these companies had failed to meet their repeat infringement obligations and were therefore responsible for the infringement of their users. And, as a result of all of that, this consortium of film companies started to become legal on this point as well.
However, the cases of film companies are interesting in two respects. First, they also started targeting Internet businesses beyond ISPs, especially VPN service providers and server hosting companies which in turn provide services to VPN companies. Second, in addition to seeking damages, they often lobby the court to order targeted internet companies to prevent their users from accessing hacking websites.
Although blocking such websites – usually triggered by court decisions – has become a common anti-piracy tactic in many other countries, it was generally not available to copyright owners in states. -United. This is largely because when Congress specifically considered introducing web blocking into U.S. copyright law in 2011 and 2012, the tech industry sparked a high-profile backlash that resulted in the complete abandonment of the plan.
It is true that the copyright industries – and in particular the film industry – have quietly pushed for these plans to be reconsidered by US lawmakers in recent years.
As part of this activity, they noted that the catastrophic predictions of the tech industry in 2011/2012 – essentially that web blocks would kill the internet – did not materialize in those countries, like the UK, where the web was blocking the internet. is now routine.
However, until now, web blocks have not really been used as part of anti-piracy efforts in the United States.
The two companies that have recently settled with movie producers are VPN provider VPN.ht and server hosting company Sharktech. They have been accused of allowing copyright infringement on their networks and not doing enough to stop this infringement.
VPN.ht and its Algerian owner initially argued that US courts had no jurisdiction over its operations. However, the company subsequently made arrangements with the film producers, committing to block BitTorrent traffic and keep logs of IP addresses on its US servers. Which appears to be a win for producers, although VPN.ht told Torrentfreak that – given that this commitment only applies to its US services – it is simply considering stopping using state-based servers. -United.
Sharktech has been targeted because it provides services to VPN companies whose users infringe copyright. Unsurprisingly, she initially argued that she was too far removed from any breach to be held accountable – because, after all, it was her clients’ clients who were committing the breach.
However, according to Torrentfreak, he also agreed to set up a web block in order to settle the dispute. It’s unclear how this will work, but web blocks will affect YTS, RARBG, 1337x, and good ol ‘Pirate Bay.
The tangible impact of these regulations is questionable, especially since VPN.ht has already identified a huge gap in what it is committed to doing.
However, it is interesting to see the number of internet companies pressured to take action against copyright infringement slowly grow beyond ISPs, to become server hosting companies, VPNs and more. . And that targeted Internet businesses are encouraged to voluntarily register for Web Blocking in the United States, slowly introducing this anti-piracy tactic in the United States market.