Business News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal

DNS resolver Quad9 fails to overturn web-blocking order secured by Sony Music

By | Published on Tuesday 7 December 2021


The not-for-profit DNS resolver Quad9 has failed to have a web-blocking injunction issued against it in the German courts suspended, but it has already said that it plans to appeal the court’s latest decision.

Web-blocking, of course, is a preferred anti-piracy tactic of the music and movie industries in those countries where such injunctions are available. It’s normally internet service providers that are ordered by the courts to block their users from accessing piracy services. However, even once ISPs but web-blocks in place, more savvy internet users can easily circumvent the blockades by using a virtual private network or an alternative DNS resolver.

Which is why copyright owners are now also starting to seek web-blocking injunctions against VPNs and organisations like Quad9. It was Sony Music which successfully secured a web-block order against Quad9 through the German courts earlier this year.

However, whereas most ISPs these days just accept web-blocking orders as a routine part of the business of internet provision, Quad9 hit back at its web-blocking order, arguing that it was far removed from any copyright infringement occurring online.

It said in September: “Quad9 does not condone copyright infringement and supports artists and rightsholders in their ownership of content and prevention of abuse. However, we strongly believe that recursive DNS is the wrong place to try to apply legally mandated controls, and is at best incorrect, and at worst may be contradictory to the safety of end users as well as damaging the stability of and trust in the global internet”.

It also added that the site it was being ordered to block – which hasn’t been formally named – isn’t even hosting the infringing content. It went on: “In this action, the site that is demanded to be blocked is not directly housing the infringing content – it is merely a collection of links that point to other sites which contain the content for download”.

“It seems to our view that this extreme distance from the actual infringing party is highly concerning”, it added, “as any precedent made with this court proceeding is broad enough to apply in a significantly large number of technical environments, not just those involving DNS”.

However, despite those objections, last week the Hamburg Regional Court declined to suspend the web-blocking injunction, which means Quad9 is still blocking the targeted site. But, says the DNS resolver, it will continue to fight the court order.

Quad9 General Manager John Todd says: “We’re disappointed that this first set of hearings ended in what we think is an outcome that is not consistent with the legislative intentions of the German government. There are a large number of internet-based services which we think ultimately are put at serious risk by this ruling, and we will not stop our legal challenges on this injunction”.

“We object to the decision not just for ourselves but for all of our end-users, network operators, software developers, and network services that we believe are the targets of this ruling in its much wider context”, he adds.

“As a non-profit whose goals are to protect end-user privacy, security, and rights, we will continue to pursue our legal fight against what we think is an outcome that threatens the very core of the internet’s ability to be a useful and trusted tool for everyone”, he concludes. “Corporations should not have the ability to directly demand that network infrastructure operators censor sites”.