ISP anti-“piracy” blockades are compatible with European law, says top advisor

Rights-holders should be allowed to force ISPs to block access to copyright-infringing websites, Europe’s top legal advisor has said.

In an opinion published by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on Tuesday, Advocate General Pedro Cruz Villalón said these blockages are permitted under EU law under certain circumstances, as the ISP qualifies as an “intermediary”.

Countries such as the UK have been allowing such injunctions for some time, but Austria’s High Court wanted the CJEU’s take on the matter before definitively allowing one in the case of UPC Telekabel Wien, an ISP, and rights-holders Constantin Film and Wega. The CJEU still has to give its own ruling — Cruz Villalón is only its advisor.

Cruz Villalón did however point out that it’s not OK for courts to tell all ISPs to block all websites that may provide copyright-infringing content. The crucial Scarlet-SABAM case in Belgium already established a couple years ago that courts can’t order ISPs to monitor traffic and filter out file-sharing.