Italian court orders Cloudflare to set up web-blocks
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By Chris Cooke | Posted on Tuesday, July 19, 2022
Italy’s record industry has won an interim injunction against internet services company Cloudflare ordering it to block users from accessing three copyright-infringing BitTorrent sites through its DNS resolver.
Although Cloudflare is a completely legitimate company, it has been regularly criticized by the music industry for facilitating piracy operations. This generally relates to Cloudflare providing services to individuals or companies accused of widespread copyright infringement, including services that allow infringers to hide their location or identity.
For its part, Cloudflare has always resisted calls to more proactively identify and block copyright infringers among its customer base, generally arguing that – while it is happy to comply with court orders – it cannot not just cut customers based on copyright complaints. owners.
In Italy, the dispute with Cloudflare was slightly different. The company also offers Internet users a so-called DNS resolver. Most people don’t even realize they’re using a DNS resolver when accessing the web because it’s a process handled by their ISP. However, you can choose another DNS resolver if you wish.
There are various reasons for doing so. But one of the reasons is that – if your ISP has blocked you from accessing a website due to hacking, probably due to a music industries secure web blocking injunction or cinema – switching to an alternative DNS resolver often allows you to circumvent the blockade.
With web blocking now a favorite anti-piracy tactic of the music and film industries in every country where web blocking court orders are available, the underhanded tactics people employ to get around the blocks are a source of concern for music and film companies.
The question is which internet companies beyond conventional ISPs should be obligated to help ensure that web blocks are as effective as possible. For example, what about alternative DNS resolver providers?
In Germany, Sony Music sought to force a non-profit DNS resolver called Quad9 to launch some of its own web blocks, an obligation Quad9 tried to fight.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the majors – coordinated by national and global trade groups FIMI and IFPI – have sought to force DNS resolver Cloudflare to block access to three hacking sites that are already subject to web blocks in the country.
The first blocking orders concerning these three sites were launched by the Italian regulator AGCOM. But do these commands also apply to Cloudflare? Well, yes, because the court in Milan has now issued an interim injunction to that effect. And the Internet company has 30 days to comply with this order, otherwise it will face daily fines.
Welcoming the move, IFPI boss Frances Moore said, “Cloudflare’s services allowed users to access copyright-infringing websites that had been ordered blocked by the regulator. Italian AGCOM. These sites divert revenue from licensed music services and ultimately those who invest in and create music.”
“By ordering CloudFlare to cease providing access to these sites,” she continues, “the Milan court has issued an important decision which we believe sends a clear message to other online intermediaries that they too can be prosecuted if their services are used for music piracy”.
Meanwhile, Enzo Mazza, CEO of FIMI, adds: “We welcome the court’s decision which will further strengthen the ongoing infringing site blocking program executed by AGCOM in Italy, while increasing the effectiveness of rights holders to protect their content online”.