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Movie industry drops web-block injunction request from MovieTube case

By | Published on Wednesday 19 August 2015


The Motion Picture Association Of America has dropped its request for a preliminary injunction that would require internet service providers in the US to block access to the copyright infringing MovieTube.

The Hollywood trade group says that the web-blocks are not now needed because the MovieTube sites have been offline for several weeks anyway. The group’s lawyers added that: “Plaintiffs are no longer seeking preliminary injunctive relief at this time but will seek permanent relief as soon as possible”.

The preliminary injunction element of the MPAA’s litigation against Movietube was the most interesting bit for two reasons. First, while now the norm in many European countries, web-blocking has not been allowed as an anti-piracy tactic in the US to date, not least because Congress rejected specific web-blocking proposals set out in the proposed SOPA and PIPA acts in 2012. Second, the MPAA was looking for search engines as well as ISPs to block access to Movietube sites.

As previously reported, the MPAA’s request for a web-blocking injunction motivated various big tech firms in the US to submit a document to the court – despite not being party to the case – arguing that the movie industry’s proposed injunction was far to wide-ranging, and that granting it would go against the wishes of Congress given the whole SOPA debate.

The movie industry’s trade body doesn’t specifically state that its change of heart here is motivated by that submission, but you don’t need to be much of a cynic to assume the two things are very much connected. Not least because the MPAA’s lawyers say that, because they’ve withdrawn the request for preliminary injunction, that letter from big tech should now be disregarded.

Whether calls for web-blocking will return as this case goes through the motions remains to be seen. Certainly it is thought the MPAA is still keen to get web-blocking underway in the US, and its counterpart in music – the RIAA – would be sure to follow in filing web-blocking actions against a plethora of piracy sites if Hollywood was able to set any kind of web-blocking precedent in an American court.